Last Updated: Jan 8th, 2015 - 07:42:25

Colonial Heights OKs VSU land deal
By James Peacemaker, Jr. Managing Editor
Jul 17, 2013, 14:21

COLONIAL HEIGHTS ó City Council approved a deal Tuesday night that would give a piece of land to Virginia State University so they can build a parking lot.

The deal is seen as a win-win for the city and the university, because the 184-space lot is needed by the university, and VSU would pay for improvements that the city wanted to make anyway.

The vacant 1.6 acre strip runs perpendicular to Dupuy Ave along the east side of campus near the Colonial Heights border. It is actually in Chesterfield, but is owned by the city and was an old railroad right of way. In 1975, pieces of the 100-foot-wide strip of rail bed along Martin Luther King Road were deeded by Seaboard Coastline Railroad to Virginia State University and the Colonial Heights.

Acquiring the cityís piece would connect VSUís campus with a 0.733 acre parcel of land at 475 Dupuy Avenue that it purchased in 2009 for the purpose of building a parking lot. A 0.118 sliver of this triangle-shaped property will be given to the city to widen Dupuy Avenue.

The parking lot will be near a new residence hall built by the university.

It has taken a year to negotiate the deal. It is basically already approved by the VSUís board of visitors, except for the condition to have easements for sewer, water and drainage.

William ďChuckĒ Henley, the director of public works for the city, said the new parking lot will help reduce students parking on streets in the surrounding neighborhood. The plan will maintain trees as a buffer between the parking lot and the nearby homes in Colonial Heights.

There will also be landscaping, a fence, colonial-style lighting and a sign welcoming people to Colonial Heights and VSU. The design will blend seamlessly into the work that Colonial Heights will be doing to widen Dupuy Avenue and add sidewalks and lights.

Henley said the deal is estimated to save the city more than $130,000 when you add up the costs of street improvements for VSUís side of Dupuy, the right of way and easements on the VSU property and subtract the value of the land that will be given away. Other improvements made by VSU on the property are estimated to cost $961,286.

The deal will also make it so the city will not have to take land from homeowners on the stretch of land on the opposite side of Dupuy Avenue to widen the road.

A VSU official said the university wants to make the improvements as soon as possible. She said a contractor has already priced the work and it could begin in September and be completed by December before students get back from winter break. The board of visitors must still approve the easements but it doesnít meet till September. Colonial Heights officials are still reviewing the site plan as well.

The Dupuy Avenue Modernization Project has been a controversial change to a busy street connecting VSU to the Boulevard. The changes will add a center turning lane to help ease traffic on the busy street, but it will also take away some land from the homeowners along it. Curbs, wider sidewalks, and some on-street parking will be added. The construction is expected to start in March 2015 and last until May 2016. Land acquisition has already begun.

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