Dear City Council members and citizens of Richmond, VCU has proposed building an inappropriate 100,000 sq. ft. recreational facility in the Oregon Hill neighborhood. VCU cannot build the recreational facility as proposed without city approval to close two alleys on the site of the proposed building. We note that the proposed new master […]
Dear City Council members and citizens of Richmond,
VCU has proposed building an inappropriate 100,000 sq. ft. recreational facility in the Oregon Hill neighborhood. VCU cannot build the recreational facility as proposed without city approval to close two alleys on the site of the proposed building. We note that the proposed new master plan of the City of Richmond calls for a moratorium on closing streets and alleys in the city.
In 1990, the state review by the Wilder administration rejected the VCU master plan that proposed athletic and dormitory expansion into the Oregon Hill neighborhood. Instead, all of these facilities were constructed on vacant surface parking lots in the Broad/Grace Street corridor for the betterment of the University and the City. After this, VCU President Eugene Trani pledged that no new VCU facilities would be built in Oregon Hill south of Cary Street.
VCU now owns vast surface parking lots in the Broad and Grace Street corridor, and it would again be better for the University and City to develop these vacant parcels instead of encroaching into Oregon Hill. VCU did not include any of these vacant blocks in the Environmental Impact Report (EIR) when considering alternative sites for the proposed recreational facility. Before the state review of the EIR was complete VCU illegally began construction of its Lobs and Lessons tennis facility on the one feasible alternative site included in the EIR for the recreational center.
The Oregon Hill neighborhood endorsed the VCU master plan 2020, which called for a smaller natatorium to be constructed at Cherry and Cary. Last year, VCU abruptly changed its master plan, without community involvement, after the recreational project was already submitted for state review.
The inappropriate scale of the proposed VCU recreational facility was cited in staff reports of the Va. Dept. of Historic Resources and the City of Richmond. But VCU has not reduced the size of the proposed structure that would stretch over 270 feet on Cherry Street. While this huge building would be detrimental to the Oregon Hill neighborhood, it would be an asset on the many vacant parcels that the University already owns on Grace and Broad Streets.
By refusing VCU’s request to close the alleys between Cherry and Linden Streets, you will be supporting the goals of the city’s master plan and helping to direct VCU’s expansion to vacant areas in the Broad and Grace Street corridor sorely in need of development.
Thank you for your consideration of this request.
President, Oregon Hill Neighborhood Association