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The plan to construct West2nd, a downtown development on the site of Charlottesville City Market, has hit another snag.
After 1½ hours of discussion at the Board of Architectural Review meeting Tuesday, West2nd architect Sacha Rosen said he would not modify the plan in the hope of winning the board’s future approval. The BAR then voted, 5-3, not to recommend the plan to the City Council.
“If you were to take chunks of your building, they would be very beautiful little chunks. The problem is it is a very long chunk of basically the same stuff,” said BAR member Carl Schwarz.
Planned for the parking lot bounded by Second Street Southwest, South Street, South First Street and West Water Street, the development would include 85 one- and two-bedroom condominiums and rise 10 stories. The least expensive unit costs approximately $400,000 to buy, and the most expensive costs more than $1 million.
The estimated annual tax revenue from the property for Charlottesville is $950,000.
“For me personally, I think there are fundamental problems with the height and scale, and I don’t think that’s going to be resolved,” said BAR member Emma Earnst.
The city initially sought developers for the property in 2013 to create a permanent home for the market and increase housing options downtown. Some BAR members worried that West2nd had not delivered on that promise.
“The way this project has been shaped is that this is a public space being given to the city, and I just don’t think it’s a quality public space. It’s going to be desolate. It’s going to be really hot,” said BAR member Breck Gastinger. “It’s just not a good plaza.”
The plaza would accommodate 115 vendors during the farmers market. The tents would disappear on the other days of the week and year, so the architects added shade to the plaza with several trellises and trees.
“The issue here is that at the beginning — what, five years ago? — there were so many conditions that were handed to us, and therefore to the architect, … about what this block needed to be. In the past five years, all we’ve been doing is trying to mediate,” said BAR member Justin Sarafin.
Lee and Dave O’Neill of Radical Roots Organic Farm have sold their vegetables at the Saturday market since 2000. They were involved in early discussions about the market’s new home but said that they have not been contacted to give feedback in years.
“We … have many concerns about the new market plaza. Being a market of 100 vendors, I do not see how it is feasible to keep the market anywhere similar to what it is now in a smaller space with restricted flow,” Lee O’Neill said by email.
Another vendor, Priya Mahadevan of Suvaiyana Desi Dosa, had a more optimistic take on the design.
“The layout seems quite nice from the pictures,” Mahadevan said by email. “I don’t see why it won’t work — but they need to figure out the logistics for vendor parking, space fee, and other things before I can truly make a comment.”
The West2nd plans include 102 public parking spaces. The developer, Woodard Properties, also plans to build several affordable units offsite, tentatively on Harris Street. The city could subsidize the affordable units to reach a lower income bracket or subsidize rents for another eight units on the property.
Woodard Properties has 10 days after the BAR meeting to file an appeal to the City Council, who would then vote on whether to approve the plan as-is. If the City Council also votes against the project, the developer may appeal the decision to the Circuit Court.
If the plan is approved, construction would begin in the fall and end in 2020.