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December 18, 2008

Tolbert: Preparation for mall renovation “exceeding expectations”

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The renovation of the downtown mall is scheduled to begin in earnest just after the New Yeark. City Council received an update on the project at its meeting on December 15, 2008 from Jim Tolbert,  Charlottesville’s Director of Neighborhood Development Services.  Tolbert said the project will be ready to begin next month as most of the major elements have been bid. 

  • Brick for the project has been ordered and Tolbert said bids came under budgeted amount
  • Masonry, runnel replacement, and demolition have been placed for bid
  • Electrical work has been bid and awarded to Design Electric
  • Fountain refurbishment work has not been bid yet
  • Tolbert said the project appears to be between 10% and 15% under the project’s $7.5 million price tag, but would produce a final report on cost savings by April 2009
  • The removed bricks will be taken up and pulverized for use in trail construction

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Bricks
These bricks on 5th Street NE were removed in November as part of a demonstration project

Tolbert also shared the phasing schedule with Council and promised that no stores or restaurants would be closed during construction. He said there will be signage to direct pedestrian traffic while bricks are being removed and replaced. Block captains will meet every two weeks during the project to relay information between business owners and construction crews.  

When Council agreed to the project in July, Councilor Holly Edwards had asked about the possibility of employing local youth as a workforce development project. Tolbert said Barton Malow, the firm managing the construction, is working with the Charlottesville Albemarle Technical Education Center (CATEC) to hire students to serve as assistants for the project.  

“The hope is that those individuals would be helping do a lot of the work that needs to be done, directing citizens as citizens are looking for how to get to the businesses, but they’d also be learning the carpentry trade while they’re there,” Tolbert said. Councilor Satyendra Huja said Tolbert’s effort to create opportunities was a model for future City projects.

Sean Tubbs

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