The Charlottesville Planning Commission has granted design approval for one new building at a corner of Barracks Road and Emmet Street, but commissioners want changes made to a proposed CVS before they will take a vote.
“This is such an important intersection in the city,” said Commissioner Genevieve Keller. “If I had to vote tonight, I would vote no.”
The Planning Commission has jurisdiction over design approvals in the city’s entrance corridors, rather than the Board of Architectural Review.
This is the second time the CVS application has gone before the Planning Commission in that body’s capacity as the entrance corridor review board.
“This is a road that has been auto-centric for many years, and we are trying to make it more urbanized,” said Commissioner Jody Lahendro.
Under the site plan, three existing buildings will be demolished to make way for the CVS. They are ALC Copies, the former Tavern Restaurant and the former Anderson’s Seafood Market.
Property owner Clara Belle Wheeler had previously submitted an application for a four-story apartment elsewhere on the property, but the Planning Commission denied a critical slopes waiver in October 2013. They also unanimously deferred review of the apartment project because members noted that the application failed to address the gateway nature of the location.
A new plan emerged when the parcel currently occupied by ALC Copies was added, allowing the building to front directly onto Emmet Street. In September 2016, the commission granted a deferral for the CVS application to allow the developer to make revisions.
The retail strip that includes the Meadowbrook Pharmacy will not be demolished at this time.
The representative for CVS and the Rebkee Company asked for a deferral when it appeared the commission would not grant approval Tuesday.
“Each meeting that we do this, it’s lost time and money, so we would rather get to that point where we’re all in agreement,” said Ashley Davies with the law firm Williams Mullen.
Commissioners asked for changes such as adding windows to the side of the building that faces Barracks Road.
Another issue is which materials would be used: brick or stone.
“Our charge is to make it relate to the entire corridor, so, for me, the stone would be out,” Keller said. “I feel, architecturally, it is a little busy.”
The commission also wants changes to the signage and wants the eastern side of the building to have more transparency so that a blank wall doesn’t face the Meadowbrook Shopping Center.
The commission, however, did grant a certificate of appropriateness for a retail center that will be called Barracks Row.
“The building will feature pedestrian access and storefront on all four sides of the building, as well as a covered patio element for a potential restaurant on the Barracks Road side of the building,” reads the project narrative.
Alan Taylor, president of Riverbend Development, said the shopping center will include three electric-vehicle chargers underneath a solar canopy. He said the company is seeking to employ new technologies in all of its new developments
The other corner property across Barracks Road at 1200 Emmet St. has been vacant for several years. A bank received a certificate of appropriateness in July 2007 but the structure was never built.
The new building will be a single-story retail complex with a flat roof, but no tenants have yet been announced.
Existing sidewalks on both Barracks and Emmet will be expanded from 5 feet to 7 feet wide.
“The street trees and landscaping will create a nice frontage and a comfortable place to walk,” said Mary Joy Scala, the city’s preservation planner.
Commissioners discussed details about signage and lighting, especially as they relate to Meadowbrook Road to the rear, but they approved the project.
“This is a nifty project and I think it is very appropriate to its site,” Keller said.
While Keller liked the design, she voted against the motion to approve the certificate because the plan has illuminated signage facing Meadowbrook Road.
The man who lives in the house closest to the developments encouraged commissioners to keep a few things in mind as they conducted their review of both projects.
“My understanding is that while the entrance corridor review guidelines speak to design, they also contemplate the impacts on surrounding areas,” said Tim Heaphy. “Our concern over all is that two new developments with retail will cause traffic volume problems that will back up into our neighborhood.”
Heaphy said he wanted to the city’s overall vision for Emmet Street.
“Thinking about how these two developments fit into this decision would also be useful,” Heaphy said. “Figuring out how these projects are harmonious with that is important to us.”
Several changes are in the works further north on Emmet Street. Council approved a special-use permit at 1300 Emmet St. last June, and they approved a permit for a drive-thru at 1248 Emmet St. The latter will allow a Zaxxby’s restaurant to open in a space formerly occupied by Lord Hardwicke’s.