By Sean Tubbs
Thursday, April 12, 2012
By Sean Tubbs
Thursday, April 12, 2012
By Sean Tubbs
Wednesday, April 11, 2012
By Brian Wheeler
Wednesday, February 15, 2012
With Albemarle County and the city of Charlottesville both working on updates to their comprehensive plans, new reports on the local housing market are informing discussions about housing choices and availability.
Local officials and environmental activists both say the reports raise important questions about the types of homes people want to buy, their preferred location in the community, and whether the county should adjust its growth area to accommodate more homes and jobs.
Tom Olivier is the chairman of the Piedmont Group of the Sierra Club.
“There are built-in conflicts between some of the things being proposed in [Albemarle relating to] economic vitality, namely the promotion of job growth, which, of course, usually ends up meaning promotion of population growth,” Olivier said at Tuesday’s meeting of the Albemarle County Planning Commission. “Population growth is the great destroyer of open space resources.”
Albemarle County staff said Tuesday that the continued pace of new homes being built in the rural countryside was “the thorn in our flesh.”
“We have concluded there is a base demand for rural-area housing that we can’t really impact,” said Wayne Cilimberg, the county’s director of planning. “It is too easy to live in the rural area and drive in to work.”
Albemarle County Planning Commissioner Don Franco called for a better understanding of how to direct more people to housing in the 5 percent of the county designated for growth.
“We want to make sure opportunities are there so we don’t put additional [development] pressure on the rural area,” Franco said.
By Kurt Walters
Sunday, January 15, 2012
Despite the recent fizzling of plans to open a state-of-the-art 12 screen movie theater, Hollymead Town Center developer Wendell Wood is confident in the market’s continued interest in the development.
He cites four new buildings providing 265,000 square feet of commercial space that are going up next to Kohl’s and says that he is seeing “pretty good demand” from prospective tenants.
“I should think people would be pretty impressed with what’s going on [at Hollymead Town Center] right now,” Wood said.
Even after receiving an approval from the Albemarle County Planning Commission for a larger movie theater, Great Escape Theatres has given up on the project.
“It’s died from inaction,” said Mark Graham, Albemarle’s director of community development, noting that the applicant failed to submit its final paperwork.
Wood identified a different culprit, saying that the theater would not accept the county’s favored traffic pattern in front of the proposed building site. He said that another movie theater has expressed interest in the location but that they also thought that the county’s traffic demands were inappropriate for a cinema.
By Kurt Walters
Tuesday, December 6, 2011
The Albemarle County Architectural Review Board moved a planned Trader Joe’s grocery store at Stonefield one step closer to construction on Monday with a 3-2 vote approving the building’s brick color.
The brick facing the intersection of U.S. 29 and Hydraulic Road had emerged as a sticking point after the board asked Stonefield’s developers to reconsider their choice of white painted brick. The developer returned in November with an off-white and unpainted brick selection.
That meeting, however, ended in a 2-2 stalemate, with two members objecting to the brick remaining any shade of white and the other two finding the avoidance of paint to be adequate. Bruce Daggett, the absent fifth board member in November, cast the tie-breaking vote Monday to approve the brick selection, named “white stone.”
Developers of Stonefield, a mixed-use development along U.S. 29, ran into a minor roadblock in the form of a rare tie vote from the Albemarle County Architectural Review Board on Monday.
The four board members in attendance reached an impasse over the use of white-colored brick on the Trader Joe’s building slated to be built at the intersection of U.S. 29 and Hydraulic Road.
Board members Charles Lebo and Paul Wright voted in opposition, having long expressed disapproval with the use of white brick on the Trader Joe’s building, which they described as giving the building a monolithic appearance and clashing with the community’s character.
“I’ve stated in the past and I’m stating it now: I’m looking for a more earth-toned brick color,” Lebo said.
However, the board found difficulty in suggesting an alternative color choice. Bruce Wardell and ARB chairman Fred Missel expressed concern that choosing a different brick color could cause the building to stick out from the rest of the development.
“I think putting red brick on that corner or tan brick on that corner would be like a cartoon,” Wardell said.
Developers said that the white brick color was important because white is perceived as a good color choice for retail businesses and because it is in keeping with the contemporary appearance they are seeking in the design.
By Sean Tubbs
Wednesday, November 16, 2011
The Albemarle County Planning Commission has recommended that the developers of a new 30-unit subdivision near the Clifton Inn be given permission to fill in the flood plain in order to strengthen an existing pond dam.
Country Inns Extraordinaire Inc. sought a special use permit for the fill, which will allow them to build a road across the top of the dam that creates Clifton Lake to satisfy one of the requirements of a 1978 rezoning that allowed for the residential development.
That rezoning required the developer to provide for a second entrance to alleviate traffic pressure on Shadwell Road, which currently serves the Shadwell Estates neighborhood with an entrance onto a congested U.S. 250.
Without the requirement, all traffic from the development would have had to use Shadwell Road. The developer has spent many years trying to come up with a solution.
The new road across the dam would allow the developer to connect the new subdivision to North Milton Road via Randolph Mill Lane.
“This is fulfilling that requirement of the board for the rezoning,” said county engineer Glen Brooks. “It’s a road we’ve anticipated for the county for a long time.”
By Sean Tubbs
Tuesday, November 15, 2011
Stribling Holdings LLC has opted to not seek a rezoning for the development of the 69.4-acre Granger property. That process would have allowed the county to negotiate with the developer to pay for new infrastructure in exchange for the rezoning.
“It is a by-right development, so we can’t require them to propose a rezoning even though that’s what the comprehensive plan calls for,” said county planner Megan Yaniglos.
A 2004 planning document known as the Area B study called for “a new neighborhood center on the Granger property, with small scale mixed-use.”
The company will instead use the existing residential zoning to build 74 single-family units on the land, which is immediately south of Fontaine Research Park.
Approved in 2004, the Belvedere neighborhood off East Rio Road has begun to take shape, as residents have filled the first 80 homes and the development prepares to hit a number of other milestones.
Belvedere is known for its environmental focus and its marketing of a “green,” community-oriented and active lifestyle. Every home in Belvedere carries an EarthCraft green building certification, which developers said raises costs but is demanded by many prospective homebuyers.
“Regrettably, it does cost more [to build green homes],” said Bob Hauser, CEO of Stonehaus, the developer of Belvedere. “But we knew that there was a component of the market that not only would consider [green homes], but absolutely would demand it, and I think we’ve found those people.”
Belvedere follows the Albemarle County “neighborhood model,” which aims to create mixed-use communities in which walking and other forms of alternative transportation are viable. Developers and residents alike say that this creates a level of community interaction that many find appealing.
The Stonefield development hit a major milestone Monday when it received a certificate of appropriateness from Albemarle County’s Architectural Review Board.
Albemarle ARB Chairman Fred Missel
While board members said the Stonefield designs were still not perfect, they, and developers alike, expressed a sense of relief at moving forward with what has been an intensive review process.
“I think we’ve done everything we can to help take a ‘blank wall’-covered development and mitigate that in many ways and creative ways,” said board Chairman Fred Missel. “I don’t think we could do any more to really help that, frankly.”
Developers of the Stonefield project had returned to address design concerns raised at an Oct. 3 work session with the ARB, as well as questions raised in a staff report prepared by county planners.
Echoing a familiar note from throughout the process, the board focused on the design of Trader Joe’s, and especially its south facing wall along Hydraulic Drive. Only three of the review board’s five members were in attendance, but the building’s two principal critics, Paul Wright and Charles Lebo, were there and enumerated their concerns.