By

Sean Tubbs



Charlottesville Tomorrow

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

The developers of a 300-unit apartment complex to be built near the

Barracks Road Shopping Center

received the blessing of the

Charlottesville Planning Commission

on Tuesday.



A 3D visualization depicting the massing of the proposed 300-unit complex

“I’m very supportive of this project and housing 500 graduate students in this vicinity,” said

Genevieve Keller

, the commission’s chairwoman.

Peak Campus Development of Georgia is the developer of the complex, which will be located at the intersection of Arlington Boulevard and Millmont Drive.

The complex will be built in two phases and will include a parking garage with 480 spaces for vehicles and secure storage for 86 bikes.

To make way for the project, several structures will be demolished, resulting in the displacement of the Jefferson Trail Behavioral System and a Region Ten office in the first phase.

Offices rented by the Virginia Department of Psychology will continue to be occupied until August 2014, at which time the project’s second phase will begin.

Peak Campus Development requires a special-use permit to build on such a dense scale. The commission recommended the City Council grant the permit.

“The request for a special-use permit to allow for a 300-unit apartment building is reasonable and appropriate on this site,” city planner Ebony Walden said. “The site is close to a major shopping center and the north campus of the University of Virginia, making it suitable for greater density that would support the university’s housing needs.”

The building will be a total height of 78 feet, but Walden said that did not present a problem.

“Staff does not find the height to be an issue, as long as the applicant addresses the pedestrian environment [in order] to make the project more human scaled,” Walden said.

As part of the special-use permit process, Peak Development will donate $360,000 to the city’s affordable housing fund because no units onsite will be designated as affordable.

“I think this is wonderful that we have an application that is going to trigger a mandatory contribution to the Charlottesville Housing Fund,” said Commissioner

Dan Rosensweig

, who also serves as executive director of the Charlottesville chapter of Habitat for Humanity.

A study required as part of the site plan application indicated that there would be a reduction of nearly 600 vehicle trips per day from the existing office uses.

Commissioner

John Santoski

said he was skeptical of those results.

“The traffic models that they use evidently are good ones but I’ll believe it when I see it,” Santoski said.

Jeff Githens of Peak Campus Development said most residents would not use their cars to get to work or school.

“With the bulk of our people being students, they are prohibited from getting a permit to park at the university because they are residents of the Arlington corridor,” Githens said. “Mass transit alternatives exist, including two University Transit stops in front of the building. Those factors were taken into consideration.”

The commission voted unanimously to recommend approval of both the special-use permit and a preliminary site plan.

“I think it will encourage pedestrian and cyclists to go to school that way,” said Commissioner

Natasha Sienitsky

.

The special-use permit will appear on the consent agenda at an upcoming City Council meeting.

Neither the Entrance Corridor Review Board nor the Board of Architectural Review has jurisdiction over the location, so the site plan review is the final chance for city officials to weigh in on its design.

The developer is seeking to begin construction in May, with completion of the first phase in August 2013.

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