Albemarle prepares for arrival of Costco at Stonefield

Costco is expected to open a store and gas station in the second phase of the Stonefield development.

Officials from the retail giant were present Monday as the Albemarle County Architectural Review Board took an initial look at the plans for the property.

“We believe Costco is 100 percent committed to Stonefield,” said Brad Dumont, a vice president with Edens, a South Carolina-based development company.

The first phase of Stonefield opened last fall, nine years after the county rezoned the 65-acre property for commercial development.

The second phase will be made up of the “big-box retail” site as well as several smaller buildings that will be closer to U.S. 29.

At this stage, the board’s review is limited to the size and configuration of buildings, location of parking areas and landscaping and determining which trees should be preserved.  Costco does not yet have to supply architectural details for its buildings or fuel canopy.

Board member Bruce Wardell took issue with a phrase in the applicant’s report that the structure would be a “brand-oriented building.”

“There was a concern … we were just going to get the trademark Costco building,” Wardell said. “I think that’s the issue for me.”
Dumont said Costco is aware of the high standards expected by the board.

“When we started our negotiations with Costco to bring them in as a potential tenant, we had them drive through the area to look at some of the newer [facilities] that they’ll have to tie in to the overall architectural context,” Dumont said. “It won’t be your standard off-the-shelf Costco.”

The board voted 3-1 to recommend moving forward with the initial site plan.

Wardell, who cast the dissenting vote, said his concern was over the creation of parking spaces between the buildings and U.S. 29. Businesses in the first phase are immediately adjacent to the road.

“If they’re trying to tie in these two sections together, using a different planning principle in phase 2 would tend to make them more dissimilar,” Wardell said in an interview.

However, Wardell voted to recommend approval on other motions related to the development.

Edens will return to the architectural review board later this year for a final certificate of appropriateness for Stonefield’s second phase.

“This is not their first rodeo through the ARB `so they know what’s expected,” said board member Chuck Lebo.

Dumont would not elaborate on a timeline for when a final approval would be sought, or for when construction would begin.

A potential roadblock in the development of the 21-acre parcel is a temporary stormwater retention pond on the site. It was created after Great Eastern Management and the owners of the Pepsi-Cola bottling facility filed a lawsuit against Edens, the City of Charlottesville and Albemarle County.

The suit claims the stormwater permits were unlawfully issued and could lead to flooding at the bottling facility, Seminole Square shopping center and on the proposed Hillsdale Drive extension. If Edens loses the case, the developer could be ordered to develop a new stormwater management plan.