Residence Closures Will Leave VCU in a Student Housing Crunch 

click to enlarge More than 31,000 students are enrolled at VCU, and changes to the Gladding Residence Center and other spots will cause a temporary squeeze.

Scott Elmquist

More than 31,000 students are enrolled at VCU, and changes to the Gladding Residence Center and other spots will cause a temporary squeeze.

Virginia Commonwealth University is working to expand its growing footprint in a dense, urban environment. But on-campus housing options are getting increasingly limited.

Shortages in the next school year result from the closure of two buildings in VCU’s Gladding Residence Center, eliminating 830 beds. Combined with the closure of another, smaller dormitory, the university will be down about 1,000 beds next year, as first reported by the university’s student newspaper, the Commonwealth Times.

But help is on the way — at least in two years. Two of the Gladding center’s three buildings, which front Monroe Park, will be demolished in August and replaced with a 12-story residence hall that can house more than 1,500 students.

Construction on the roughly $100 million project, which would include retail and administrative offices on the ground level, is scheduled to be completed in 2018. The university has entered into a 50-year contract with Texas-based American Campus Communities, a private developer of campus housing, to carry out the redevelopment.

On the medical campus, low-rise dorms have been closed with plans to eventually demolish them to make way for the construction of a building to place the university’s 11 allied health professions programs under one roof.

As those plans roll forward, the number of beds available for next year will be reduced from about 6,200 to 5,100. That makes housing options even tighter for a university that requires upperclassmen to enter a housing lottery to determine who receives on-campus housing.

And about 1,100 students were told that they couldn’t stay in their same rooms next year.

Colin Muldon, who lived in the Gladding center during his freshman year, failed to get a high-enough number in the housing lottery and is searching for an apartment off-campus. But he’s come around to the idea and says that he’s happy to see that the buildings, which date to about 1980, will be replaced.

“I think it’s a good idea,” Muldon says. “Honestly, they are pretty bad. Things are always breaking, especially in the bathrooms.”

Plus, he says, “At least I don’t have to sign guests in anymore.”

University officials say that the new Gladding dorms will provide an additional 600 beds, which would allow all freshmen to live on the academic campus. Currently, several hundred of them live in Cabaniss Hall on the medical campus.

“On-campus housing encourages student success and increases retention rates,” VCU’s president, Michael Rao, said in a statement. “This new residence hall will help develop the area around Monroe Park and better connect our community and neighbors.”

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