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City architecture group weighs in on Quirk, Blue Moon projects
Rendering of the future Quirk Hotel on West Main Street
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Credit: ARCHITECTUREFIRM
The developers of the Quirk Hotel envision it as a hub for the arts community
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Sean Tubbs | Wednesday, May 17, 2017 at 8:05 p.m.

As Charlottesville waits for a new streetscape design for West Main Street, the city Board of Architectural Review granted design approvals for two projects that will incorporate four existing buildings.

The BAR approved the final design for a new six-story apartment building that will wrap around the Blue Moon Diner and another building at 600 W. Main.

The group also granted an initial approval for the new Quirk Hotel that will be built across the street.

“The current design consists of four levels that are 52 feet high above West Main Street and five levels above Commerce Street with a rooftop appurtenance level that includes a rooftop bar,” said Mary Joy Scala, the city’s historic-preservation planner. “The BAR should decide if the massing is appropriate so the applicant can proceed in the design.”

The new structure will extend into the vacant space at 425 W. Main.

“I think this is a great project,” said BAR member Stephen Balut. “Starting with the fact that you are preserving the two structures on site is great.”

The BAR granted approval for the size and scale of the buildings.

The developers of the Quirk also sought permission to demolish portions of the structures.

The structure at 501 W. Main was built in 1893, and 503 W. Main dates back to 1824. The developers said they want to remove additions that were made after original construction.

“They’re not very well done, frankly,” architect Danny MacNelly said. “I think they detract from that original historic character.”

An attorney for the Quirk argued the removals were necessary.

“The goal here is to give space around 501 and 503 W. Main to allow the pedestrian connection to be the bridge between the old and the new,” said Jennifer Mullen, with the firm Roth Jackson.

Scala said she could recommend some of the demolition requests.

“I think it’s good that they are maintaining the main portions of both houses and incorporating them into the plan,” Scala said, but she said she had reservations about some of the sections requested for demolition.

The BAR declined to grant permission for the demolition of a 1924 brick addition on the side of 501 W. Main because of its significance as a doctor’s office from that period. However, the panel did allow removal of other portions of the two buildings.

The BAR also approved the demolition of the former Mel’s Barber Shop on Commerce Street.

“It is not currently recognized as a historic building nor is its design unique,” Scala said.

The Quirk Hotel on Broad Street in Richmond was financed in part by historic tax credits but the company will not seek to use them in Charlottesville.

“Some of it has to do with the interior work that we plan to do,” MacNelly said.

Brad Worrell, who lives in the Starr Hill neighborhood, said he appreciated the Quirk’s community engagement on the project.

“The things that are very important to the neighborhood have been already raised and acknowledged,” Worrell said, but he added there are still concerns about how the project will affect driveways on Commerce Street.

To ease one concern, all guest parking will be valet to prevent people unfamiliar with the area from driving on the small roads in the neighborhood.

“The existing hotel in Richmond gives us a lot of encouragement that they are following through with good design and high-quality materials,” said Melanie Miller, the BAR’s chairwoman.

Developer Jeffrey Levien’s Six Hundred West Main Street will feature 53 apartments. The BAR’s approval of a certificate for appropriateness means the project can soon move to construction.

“Everything that we’re addressing tonight is everything that needs to be addressed in order to get the approval for the building permit,” said Jeff Dreyfus, with the firm Bushman and Dreyfus.

Dreyfus presented new windows and new landscape and lighting plans and demonstrated how mechanical units will be screened from view.

Dreyfus will return to the BAR at a later time for final approval of signage and lighting.

The BAR voted unanimously to approve the certificate of appropriateness for the project.

“Overall, you have given us exactly what we have asked for,” Miller said.

The Blue Moon Diner will close on May 31 after a final show with regular Jim Waive. Owner Laura Galgano said the restaurant will open again in the new building after a period that she described as a “sabbatical.”

The West Main Streetscape also received attention from city officials this week. On Monday, the City Council approved the schematic design for the $31 million project that has been under development since 2013.
 

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