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CoStar Group Pledges $18M to Build Arts, Innovation Center at Richmond's VCU

Wed May 17, 2023 - Northeast Edition
VCU News

The planned CoStar Center for Arts and Innovation is expected to be a 213,000-sq.-ft. multidisciplinary complex on a 1-acre site at the prominent intersection of Richmond’s Broad and Belvidere streets. (VCU photo)
The planned CoStar Center for Arts and Innovation is expected to be a 213,000-sq.-ft. multidisciplinary complex on a 1-acre site at the prominent intersection of Richmond’s Broad and Belvidere streets. (VCU photo)

A partnership was announced May 12 between Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) and CoStar Group, a provider of online real estate marketplaces, information and analytics in the commercial and residential property markets, to support the development of the Richmond school's planned Arts and Innovation Academic Building through an $18 million commitment.

The project, tentatively to be named the CoStar Center for Arts and Innovation, will consolidate VCU's nationally recognized School of the Arts, ranked fourth in the country among graduate programs, and its other innovation initiatives under one roof for the first time, according to a news release from the university news service.

CoStar Group's investment adds to the company's long-standing history of investment in educational opportunities in the commonwealth of Virginia, and its capital city.

"CoStar Group's strategic partnership — the second-largest corporate commitment in VCU history — will provide a launch pad for generations of VCU innovators, artists, makers and performers," said Michael Rao, president of VCU and VCU Health.

"We're excited about our plan to name the CoStar Center for Arts and Innovation, which will recognize the tremendous alliance that has grown between VCU and CoStar Group. This collaboration will enrich our students, CoStar Group's workforce, and the city of Richmond alike."

It is expected that the planned CoStar Center for Arts and Innovation will encompass a 213,000-sq.-ft. multidisciplinary complex on a one-acre site at the high-profile intersection of Broad and Belvidere streets, just a few blocks northwest of downtown Richmond.

Designed to be a resource not only for VCU but for the wider community, the Center's proposed design will feature flexible classroom spaces, interdisciplinary performance venues and makerspaces for rapidly growing partnerships across arts, business, humanities, sciences, medicine and engineering.

VCU News noted that activities in the building are expected to range from opera to quantum computing, integrating the disciplines of engineering, cinema, theater, immersive media technology, gaming and the creation of new knowledge.

"VCU has proven to be a constant source of innovation and energy, and CoStar Group has drawn heavily from its graduates and creative talent in recent years," explained Andy Florance, founder and CEO of CoStar Group, and a member of the VCU Board of Visitors since 2021.

"As we continue to expand our business, our interests align seamlessly with VCU's commitment to educational excellence. I am confident that Dr. Rao's leadership will continue to make a positive lasting impact and that he will be a thoughtful steward of the center's resources."

Ground will be broken this fall for the construction of the CoStar Group Arts and Innovation Center, with an expected public opening in early 2027, VCU News noted.

Sparkling New Building Will Match VCU's Excellence

Virginia Commonwealth University is widely recognized for its academic excellence; its School of the Arts' graduate program is ranked fourth nationally among public and private schools. In addition, its graduate advertising program, called Brandcenter, is rated as the best in the United States, and is a top digital media and marketing school as well.

The university plays a leading role in the cultural and economic life of Richmond, encouraging its students to be active stewards of the city they call home.

In turn, CoStar Group has adopted and continually expanded its presence in Richmond for its diverse amenities, artistic and economic vitality, and multitalented workforce — one trained in large part by VCU.

Institutionally, CoStar Group has long advocated for educational investments as a pathway to success for young people, a belief mirrored by the personal philanthropic efforts of Florance, who received an honorary doctorate from the school in 2019.

The company's global headquarters was formed in Richmond in 2016, and now employs more than 1,500 people. CoStar Group recently broke ground on a new campus in the Virginia capital which is expected to more than double the firm's workforce in the city, with new jobs spanning research, technology, operations, software development and sales.

Once the expansion is complete, CoStar Group is poised to become the largest technology company in Richmond.

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