Union Presbyterian Seminary apartment plan delayed

The green space will remain a green space for little bit longer.

Update #1 — October 8, 2015; 8:50 AM

From RTD:

The city’s Board of Zoning Appeals on Wednesday agreed to delay a vote on Union Presbyterian Seminary’s request for a special exception to facilitate the school’s plans to develop private land that for generations has served as a public green space.

The request came as concerned residents of the affected neighborhoods, about 50 of whom packed a conference room on the fifth floor of City Hall, prepared to weigh in on the proposal that is part of the seminary’s plan to build an apartment complex for students and others.

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Original — April 24, 2015

Back in April of last year the fate of 34 acres on Northside was unknown. The Westwood tract (Westwood Ave & Brook Road) was rumored to be slated for development by it’s owners Union Presbyterian Seminary. In May a plan was released and neighbors immediately voiced their concern and formed the Save Westwood campaign.

Union Presbyterian Seminary after consideration have adjusted their original plans but are moving forward with development of 15 acres (seen above). Citizens can keep tract of the new plan on the Westwood Tract website.

Union Presbyterian Seminary Board of Trustees released the following statement:

The Union Presbyterian Seminary Board of Trustees has approved a plan that will offer new and critically needed student housing for the first time in nearly 50 years.

The school plans to partner with a developer to build up to 310 apartments on the eastern 15-acres of its 34-acre Westwood Tract, located along Westwood and Rennie avenues in Richmond. Groundbreaking could begin as early as summer 2015 with new apartments opening late summer 2016. Students living on the property will be provided alternate housing during construction.

“The trustees’ decision affirms the land’s original intent when it was donated more than 100 years ago as a resource in achieving the seminary’s mission to prepare pastors, educators, and scholars for ministry in today’s world,” said President Brian K. Blount. “The new apartments will replace student housing that is inadequate and outdated, and will help us attract top students.”

The seminary’s newest student housing, Advance Apartments, dates to 1968.

“Some residents have voiced concern about the development,” Blount said. “To maintain our tradition of being a good neighbor, we have listened.”

The revised plan lowers buildings heights from four stories to three, reduces the number of apartment units from 349 to 310, adds more space between buildings and the street, and ties the development architecturally to the main academic quad.The seminary also will leave the remaining 19 acres untouched as an open space, which the seminary will continue to contribute to the community as a public park. “We can’t promise it will never be developed, but we have no immediate plans to do so,” Blount said.

“Many of the earliest residents in our community chose to locate in the area specifically because the seminary was here,” Blount said. “We plan to continue that legacy in this new development, both as a resource for the seminary’s mission and an investment in the future of the community.”

To learn more about the Westwood Tract project, visit https://westwoodtract.wordpress.com/

Image: Westwood Tract Project

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Richard Hayes

When Richard isn’t rounding up neighborhood news, he’s likely watching soccer or chasing down the latest and greatest craft beer.

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