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June 05, 2012

Green screens and donut shop windows under review by Albemarle

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DailyProgressBy Courtney Beale
Charlottesville Tomorrow
Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Green vegetative building screens and windows on a new Dunkin Donuts were among the topics discussed during Monday’s Albemarle Architectural Review Board meeting.

Katurah Roell, from the Piedmont Development Group, was given the go-ahead for his company’s plans to renovate the Pantops Med Express building. The plan includes a green screen, essentially a vertical plant trellis, which will improve the building’s facade.

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Albemarle County Architectural Review Board

However, this addition to the Med Express building caused ARB members to discuss the possible need for more regulations concerning green screens. Members noted that other green screens on buildings in the Barracks Road Shopping Center have not been successful.

“My fear is we get these green screens on all these things in places — for example, on Barracks Road — and there are some places that look great and there are other walls that seemingly never get covered,” said board member Paul Wright.

Board Chairman Fred Missel said that perhaps the lattices themselves should be regulated in the future, in case plants do not thrive and cover them in a reasonable amount of time.

“We’re probably going to see a lot of green screens because it seems to be the Stonefield approach to mitigating blank walls,” Missel said, referring to an approach being used on the new Trader Joe’s grocery store. “As we entertain more and more of these green screen ideas, we may want to consider what the green screen looks like without the plants, just in case.”

Staff member Margaret Maliszewski said the type of green screens chosen and the procedure for the maintenance of the screens are both included in site plans, architectural plans and building permit drawings.
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Eric Goetz

Screening of another sort was the issue addressed by Eric Goetz, representing Dunkin Donuts. The ARB debated whether to allow some of the windows in Dunkin Donuts’ future Rivanna Plaza location on U.S. 29 north to be covered. The traditional layout of Dunkin Donuts, he said, does not perfectly match the layout of the Rivanna Plaza unit they will lease.

The building’s foundation and utilities already have been placed and Dunkin Donuts asked the ARB to consider uses that would block the windows from inside the shop.

“There is no magical solution for this,” Wright observed.

“It creates a really, really difficult set of circumstances [and], in a way, it would have been a more straightforward discussion if [the tenants] said, ‘Yes, we know we haven’t approved the building, but that building needs to be modified because … our interior layout doesn’t match that footprint,’” said ARB member Bruce Wardell. “It does pose some really difficult issues.”

ARB members conferred over how to regulate what was allowed to be visible through the windows. Some members were in favor of allowing customers to see certain pieces of kitchen equipment against the windows or of using health department-approved blinds to shield the kitchen from outsiders.

It was ultimately decided in the work session that the design of the kitchen was outside of the ARB’s realm of control and the tenant could place most types of equipment in front of the window as long as it was not considered signage and was approved by the health department.

“It’s a building that’s there and a building that they’ve got to deal with,” Wardell said. “Dunkin Donuts has to make a decision about how they want to treat [their] corporate image.”

“Well, if there is a silver lining, maybe the second generation of tenant will want those windows, so they can just pull up the blinds,” Missel said.

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