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Charlottesville review panel approves Water Street building
View of 550 East Water Street from Downtown Transit Center
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Credit: Core Real Estate Development
View of 550 East Water Street from Downtown Transit Center
Sean Tubbs | Wednesday, March 16, 2016 at 8:39 p.m.
Charlottesville’s Board of Architectural Review has given its conditional approval for a mixed-use building at 550 E. Water St. but they want to see some changes before granting their final okay. 
“For us to come back to you next month does not prohibit our process,” said developer Andrew Baldwin. 
The quarter-acre property is between the former Union Station and the King Warehouse Building and is currently a parking lot rented by the C&O restaurant. Both buildings are contributing structures in the downtown architectural design control (ADC) district.
The BAR approved the project’s massing in October 2015, and Baldwin returned Tuesday for a certificate of appropriateness for the design. 
At one point, Baldwin had considered asking the city for a special-use permit for a nine-story building but opted to go by-right when it became clear he wouldn’t get the BAR to recommend approval. 
“The proposed building has below-grade parking, commercial office space and residential condominiums,” said Camie Mess, a historical preservation assistant with the city.  
The building’s west end will be six stories tall and will include one apartment on each floor. The east end will be three stories tall and will house the offices. 
“The site includes a public courtyard at the west end and a private courtyard at the east end,” Mess said. “The five-foot setback is landscaped with street trees, ornamental trees and ferns.”
Baldwin no longer plans to use the rooftop on the taller end as a terrace for tenants. 
“We decided that this is something that tenants might go up to three or four times a year, at best,” Baldwin said
The BAR recommended approval of the certificate of appropriateness with conditions. 
“We would like to see some continued design development on warming up the façade on the street side,” said BAR chair Tim Mohr. 
Members asked for windows on the north façade to be slightly larger and for Baldwin to submit a new landscaping plan. They also want more information on lighting. 
The project continues to be opposed by residents of the Holsinger building across the street.
“One of the specific ADC guidelines for new construction is that the height should be within 130 percent of the average for the block,” said David Myatt. “Has anyone done any work to see if that specific requirement is complied with?”
Mess said that requirement had been met, but Myatt said he is not convinced and said he wanted to see the city’s math. 
Another BAR member said that the construction of the five-story Holsinger building in 2006 likely affected the calculations in favor of allowing the height at 550 E. Water St. 
“The Holsinger kind of throws things off a bit in the direction of more [height],” said Carl Schwarz. 
“We are going to go back and research the 130 percent requirement,” said BAR member Justin Sarafin. 
In other action, the BAR also agreed to allow a barber shop pole at 105 Third Street NE to be tem-porarily removed to another downtown location while an art gallery rents the space. 
They also approved minor revisions to Market Plaza and approved a certificate of appropriateness for a new roof for 206 W. Market St. 
Stephen Balut, the newest member of the BAR, did not vote because he said he had not had time to read the materials after learning of his appointment by City Council. 
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