With site’s townhouses not selling well, developer changes course

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Development activity is picking up again at the Shops at Stonefield.

Weeks after approving the design of a six-story hotel at Stonefield, the Albemarle County Architectural Review Board is considering how a similarly tall apartment building will contribute to the appearance of the shopping center and Hydraulic Road.

“In context here, [the scale] probably works. I think if this were on West Main, we would all be gagging,” ARB member Frank Stoner said at the group’s meeting Monday.

The shopping center’s zoning allows up to 800 residential units. One-third of the potential homes already have been constructed, and the proposed apartment building would add 160 one- and two-bedroom apartments to the mix.

The developers had planned to build townhouses at the intersection of Kober Way and Inglewood Drive, the site of the proposed apartment building. According to John Regan, executive vice president of The Christopher Cos., low demand for the existing townhouses at Stonefield changed the developers’ plans.

“The sales pace of the townhouses has been slow. We felt that this would be a better product for the success both of the retail and the overall project at Stonefield,” Regan said.

The developers are targeting young professionals and retirees. Regan estimated that the rents would range from $1,400 to $1,700 per month, depending on the size of the apartment.

The first floor of the building would include office space intended for Castle Hill Gaming, a company headquartered at 1807 Seminole Trail that makes slot machines for casinos. The resident entrance would include a community room with a gas fireplace, a cafe, a fitness room and a multi-purpose room where yoga or art classes might be held.

“The experience is coming through the front door of your new home and seeing the community room off to your left, with a gas fireplace going and glass at the corner, looking at the park, looking at the Hyatt across the street, looking at the movie theaters, restaurants, what have you,” said architect Bill Devereaux, president of McLean-based Devereaux & Associates.

The review board did not vote on the design of the apartment complex but offered guidance on how to make the building compatible with its environment.

Like the second Hyatt recently approved by the ARB, the developers will need the Board of Supervisors to approve a special exception for the building’s height. If all goes smoothly, construction on the apartment building could start as soon as this fall or winter.

Also at Monday’s ARB meeting, the board approved the design of 12 townhouses and a C&F Bank for Stonefield. The townhouses will border Hydraulic Road, and the bank building will be behind BJ’s Restaurant off U.S. 29.