Charlottesville’s City Council approved a special-use permit Wednesday that will allow a 648-bedroom student-housing complex to be built at the corner of West Main and Roosevelt Brown Boulevard.
A divided council voted 3-2 to grant the permit, which allows Campus Acquisitions to build a multi-story, mixed-use building near the University of Virginia Medical Center.
“The project has been transformed through a community process,” said Stephen Bus, vice president of Campus Acquisitions.
The council altered a condition the Planning Commission had requested earlier this month that would reduce the number of four-bedroom units in the complex by 25 percent.
Some commissioners had expressed a concern that the building would provide too much student housing in one area of the city. Instead, councilors agreed to allow those units to be more evenly distributed throughout the L-shaped building.
In the past 18 months, the council has approved two other student-geared complexes on West Main. The Flats at West Village is currently under construction, and a project called The Standard will get underway later this year after demolition of Republic Plaza is completed.
Councilors Bob Fenwick and Dede Smith expressed concern that the 1000 West Main project would have too heavy an impact on the Medical Center.
The developer disagreed.
“We are adjoining property owners and we are a big project,” Bus said. “We are going to have an effect on them and they will have an effect on us. We have established a framework to work through the remaining issues.”
The project had the support of one resident who remembered a time when West Main was a shopping destination.
“This building is an anchor and has features that the other two [complexes] do not,” said Stuart Kessler. He added that he thinks the retail aspect of the project will spark more vitality on the street. Currently, the property at 1000 W. Main is vacant.
However, other residents said they were concerned that the building was being marketed to affluent students because of its proximity to the Corner district.
Scott Tempuri said he wanted the council to wait until the Flats at West Village is done before making a decision on 1000 W. Main.
Fenwick and Smith voted against the permit for 1000 W. Main.
“I think this is the nicest of the student complexes, but I don’t like any of them,” Smith said.
Fenwick said the property was being developed in a speculative bubble and that the council should wait before granting an approval.
“It’s too much, too quickly, and it’s not going to end very well for some people,” Fenwick said. “We don’t need it right now. I have a big problem with the idea that UVa is annexing Charlottesville.”
However, the majority of councilors decided the project deserved a permit.
“This is the kind of development we’re looking for,” Mayor Satyendra Huja said.
Councilor Kathy Galvin said the project would help supply housing for UVa students, which would help free up housing elsewhere in Charlottesville for families.
Bus said he hopes ground will be broken on the project this spring.