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

Construction to begin on multipurpose center at VSU
By Chelsea Hopson
Dec 10, 2013, 17:20

CONTRIBUTED PHOTO A rendering shows what the new Virginia State University Multipurpose Center will look like.

CHESTERFIELD — Virginia State University is set to begin construction Friday of a massive new multipurpose center on campus as part of their long-term plan to expand the university and improve the Ettrick area.

The multipurpose center will be located between Second and Third Avenues, River Road and Boisseau Street. The groundbreaking ceremony will be held at 2 p.m. Friday at Third Avenue and Watson Street, in the footprint of the planned building.

The center will be about 165,000 square feet, which includes an arena for sporting events such as basketball and volleyball games, concerts, convocations, graduation, sports tournaments and community events.

The arena will be able to hold 5,100 people for sporting events and 6,100 for stage events.

VSU said the facility will be the only one of its type between Richmond and Raleigh, N.C., and could be used for large events, such as high school graduations.

“The Multipurpose Center holds promise to revitalize the village of Ettrick, and be a catalyst to transform it into a true college town,” said VSU President Keith T. Miller. “The facility will serve both the University and our neighbors, with events such as high school graduations, concerts and the ability to host a variety of large-scale athletic events.”

There will also be an academic portion to the center for the mass communications majors with broadcast capabilities and hospitality management majors with a full size kitchen for banquets that will interest those students.

VSU estimates it will take 22 months to complete, and cost about $57 million for construction, with a total project cost of $84 million.

The main entrance of the center will face east toward the campus center while the rear of the facility containing the loading docks will be visible from East River Road.

The plan also will include 1,500 parking spaces.

A separate mixed-use residential and commercial development along Chesterfield Avenue is also being planned.

Back in 2007, the university proposed a 2020 Vision Plan of how they see the university by 2020. Buildings such as Moore Hall, Gateway 2, the two Quads and the Engineering buildings were also parts of the plan and are now on the campus.

“The multipurpose center is a catalyst for the vision for the university,” said Jane Harris, assistant vice president for Capital Outlay and Facilities at Virginia State.

Capital Outlay and Facilities for VSU conducted feasibility studies for the multipurpose center, and from the study it showed that there really weren’t any gathering facilities such as the center. The closest structure like that being in Richmond.

“We will have a facilities operator that will be promoting the facility to traveling events for a source of entertainment that would be available to the community,” said Jonathan Taylor, Director for Capital Outlay and Maintenance Reserve.

Being that Virginia State University borders Petersburg and Colonial Heights at the southern edge of Chesterfield, VSU will be partnering with Chesterfield County and Colonial Heights on different road widening projects adjacent to the multipurpose center.

Virginia State’s Capital Outlay and Facilities purchasing department has been purchasing around 120 properties since 2009 for this project and have only been buying properties from willing sellers.

“We have not exercised eminent domain or anything like that,” Harris said.

Capital Outlay and Facilities is in the works on soliciting a new master plan for where VSU plans to go as far as updating the 2020 Vision Plan.

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