Virginia Commonwealth University (or VCU) is a 30,000 student entity broken down into two campuses.
The Medical School Campus, located near the Broad Street/Interstate 95 interchange in Downtown Richmond, surrounds the VCU Health Center and is known by many old Richmonder’s as MCV. The main campus (Monroe Park Campus) that straddles Belvidere and Broad Streets between Monroe Ward and The Fan District, is home to the non-medical programs in the arts (both performing and visual), business, engineering and advertising. The main campus, sometimes referred to as the Monroe Park Campus, is far larger than the Medical Campus and educates the University’s undergraduate students and non-medical graduate students.
VCU relies heavily on the private sector to provide housing for its students. While there are some dormitory options for students, the large majority of the students live ‘off-campus.’ The term ‘off-campus’ in VCU vernacular means ‘adjacent to campus’ and therefore a short walk, bus trip or bike ride away. Living options targeted at the student population are far more prevalent surrounding the main (Monroe Park Campus) than the Medical Campus Downtown. This makes the housing market for the medical student far more varied and challenging.
The Medical Campus
For the medical students, finding a place close by means considering housing in Richmond neighborhoods that are still in transition. The neighborhoods that immediately surround the Medical Campus are Jackson Ward/Carver, Downtown, Shockoe Bottom and arguably Church Hill. All of these neighborhoods have been in the process of being aggressively redeveloped after receiving historic designations in the early 2000’s. Being designated ‘historic’ makes many federal and state incentive programs available for developers to renovate older structures and it has been used extensively to help bring life back to many blighted sections in Richmond.
Several condo projects are available close to the Medical Campus in both the Jackson Ward neighborhood and Downtown. In Jackson Ward, available for sale condos can be found in The 212, The Marshall Street Bakery and The Emrick Flats. In the Downtown neighborhood, available projects include the Vistas on the James, Riverside on the James and Gotham. The fractured condo project in the old Miller and Rhodes building Is no longer being marketed for sale and is now functioning as apartments. It offers a good option for those seeking close proximity to the Medical Campus.
Monroe Park Campus
The neighborhoods of the Fan District, Oregon Hill, Monroe Ward and Jackson Ward/Carver all surround the main Monroe Park Campus. Tenement styled 3-story walk up apartments (some renovated and some not) surround VCU to the west in the Fan along with many row homes that can be purchased by parents for their children. In the working class neighborhood of Oregon Hill to the south, the housing stock is decidedly less luxurious and therefore popular with the students. Housing in Oregon Hill can be purchased or leased relatively inexpensively. In Carver to the north, many older warehouse structures have been converted into loft styled apartments and offer a more modern option for the undergraduate student. Housing in Carver and Jackson Ward can also be purchased relatively inexpensively. Several condo and townhome projects provide newer options close to the Monroe Park campus including the Cary Mews, The Overlook, Tribeca, Iron House Place, The Windsor and the Cary Flats.
Overall, the housing market surrounding both campuses is very diverse with many shapes, sizes and prices all within a reasonable walk to either. The fact that the private sector provides much of the student housing means more options for parents including single family homes, row homes, town homes, condos, lofts and flats. With interest rates and pricing at some of the lowest points in decades, it means a wonderful option to offset some of the cost of tuition with a strategic purchase.