A 200-unit apartment development is coming just south of Interstate 64 along Fifth Street Extended.
“It’s an example of the shape of things to come for the southern urban area,” said Rex Linville, co-chairman of the Fifth & Avon Community Advisory Committee.
The by-right development, called Fifth Street Place, will have five buildings with a mix of one-bedroom and two-bedroom apartments.
The apartment buildings range from three to four stories and the development will include a clubhouse and pool.
This will be the second major apartment development on Fifth Street Extended — the first being Cavalier Crossing, a housing development geared toward students that is adjacent to the 16.3 acres where Fifth Street Place will be built.
Michael Campbell, with Dominion Realty Partners, said the apartments, however, will not be targeted solely for students.
“It’s more of a traditional kind of multi-family project where you could see some students, some graduate students, young professionals, empty nesters — a wide-mix of different renters,” Campbell said.
Campbell said he expects the first apartments at Fifth Street Place to be ready by the summer of 2017.
The arrival of a Wegmans grocery store and the rest of the under-construction 5th Street Station — located about a mile north of the development — are major reasons for Dominion Realty Partners’ interest, Campbell said.
“The Wegmans that is being built currently at Fifth Street really opens up that whole corridor,” Campbell said. “I think it’s going to be a huge difference-maker in how Fifth Street will be perceived and continue to develop.”
Wegmans is slated to open in November. Other tenants coming to 5th Street Station include Alamo Drafthouse, Dick’s Sporting Goods, Mattress Warehouse and PetSmart.
This is Dominion Realty Partners’ first apartment project in Charlottesville. The company’s portfolio includes apartment complexes in Richmond and Raleigh, North Carolina.
Campbell said the proximity of the site to the University of Virginia, Pantops and downtown Charlottesville made it attractive.
“We’ve been looking to try to find opportunities in that marketplace for a while. It’s hard to find land in Charlottesville,” Campbell said. “The combination of the location and the Wegmans going in was a ... huge thing that helped us make that decision [to develop].”
Linville said that while 5th Street Station will contribute to the development of the southern designated growth area of Albemarle County, it will have some impacts on the existing community.
“On one hand, I think it’s going to have an impact and there will be more traffic and more congestion,” Linville said. “But in the totality of things, I think this project is going to be a little piece of a much bigger amount of impact that we’re going to see in the coming years that’s largely going to be driven by that new commercial center because people are going to want to be near it.”
Linville said pedestrian and bicycle connectivity needs to be a key consideration as development occurs.
“Right now there’s not good pedestrian connectivity through that corridor,” he said.
The west side of Fifth Street currently has an asphalt path from the Mosby Mountain subdivision up to around the area where Fifth Street Place will be located. But continuing north toward 5th Street Station, the nearest major sidewalk starts in front of Sleep Inn, on the other side of I-64.
There are no bicycle lanes connecting the two areas, either.
“It is one of my frustrations as a resident of the urban area that, by and large, Albemarle County appears to be waiting completely on the development community to supply those amenities,” Linville said.
According to the site plan for Fifth Street Place, the by-right development will provide a sidewalk along the south end of the site and connect with a short sidewalk segment that currently exists in front of two houses adjacent to the property.
Campbell deferred to the county on the topic of sidewalk interconnectivity with 5th Street Station but said he thinks it could be a benefit to Fifth Street Place.
“We’re not involved with that,” Campbell said. “I think that’s one of the things that we’re going to begin to look at now that we’ve gotten started with construction and try to understand more about how the interconnectivity could work because that would be a huge benefit for our residents.”
The county’s community development department previously had proposed sidewalks, bike lines or a shared-use path for 1.5 miles of Fifth Street, but the project is not currently funded in the county’s capital improvement plan.
The proposed $2.5 million project would go from the city line on Moores Creek southward toward Hickory Street and Ambrose Commons Drive.
“[The] exact design would need to be determined with [the Virginia Department of Transportation] and input from the city in order to coordinate with their ultimate design for Fifth Street,” the county’s acting planning director, David Benish, said in an email.
Benish also said the bridge over I-64 and the interchange pose a challenge for the design.
“South of the interchange, there is an opportunity to provide both shared-use path and bike lanes, as shoulders are wide enough in some areas to stripe bike lanes.”