The story of conflict between Oregon Hill and VCU is as old as the University itself. The 1976 VCU Master Plan refers to the neighborhoods at the edges of the campus as “a no-man’s land of speculation and decay” and identifies a need for the University to “mark out its territory” in regards to future development. Proposed “New Campus” buildings were to be located south of Monroe Park, and the plan specifically references “Northern Oregon Hill”—cut off from the neighborhood by the expressway—as a prime location for new “off-campus housing, parking, and commercial establishments."
While the 1976 recommendations only mentioned Oregon Hill as an area for consideration and community discussion, 1989’s plan proposed major acquisitions by the University south of Cary Street. Community outrage halted these plans, but Oregon Hill residents recall the days before the growth of VCU—when Oregon Hill used to span from east of Belvidere up to Main Street—as they continue to struggle against further encroachment.
Carver residents trace their uneasy relationship with VCU to the opening of the Siegel Center in 1999, which began the University’s ongoing push north of Broad Street. A recreation center, a parking structure, a large bookstore, a 396-bed student dorm, and an artschool complex followed. Because the projects made use of abandoned and underutilized properties along Broad Street, residents and local businesses were not displaced. Nevertheless, some Carver residents objected to any plans that would increase student population in the neighborhood, fearing that the character of the small neighborhood would be lost.