Over objections of some property owners, Council takes first step to identify historic buildings

A portion of the Wachovia bank in the Barracks Road Shopping Center is being considered for designation as an Individually Protected Property

City Council has indicated it supports the designation of four separate buildings in the City of Charlottesville as Individually Protected Historic Properties.  After passing through both the Board of Architectural Review (BAR) and the Planning Commission, Council held a first reading of the historic designation measures at its meeting on September, 15 2008. If Council passes the ordinance change at its meeting on October 6, 2008, it will be the first time since 1993, and only the second time ever, that the city has focused protection on individual buildings.

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The first building is former Coca-Cola plant, now converted into apartment buildings, on 10th Street. City Councilor

Satyendra Huja

expressed agreement with the BAR that examples of this era of industrial architecture are fairly unique and deserve protection. The second building still functions as a Coca-Cola bottling plant on Preston Street. Built in 1937, it is the largest remaining example in Charlottesville of the art deco style, a mixture of both classical and modern design elements popular around the world between the 1920’s and the 30’s. Since there have been newer or less significant additions to the building, Council decided to designate only the front portion of the property as historic.

The old Monticello Dairy building is another being considered for protection

The third building is a bank that sits on a 22 acre property in Barracks Road shopping center. The original building dates back to around 1965. Although modern in design, it was intended as a reference to the Rotunda. Councilor

Holly Edwards

felt it contributes to the “Jeffersonian feel that makes Charlottesville Charlottesville.” Finally, the fourth building is the former Monticello Dairyon Grady Avenue. Another industrial building in the Preston corridor, the Monticello Dairy is noted for its neo-classical façade.

Several of the property owners objected, whether in part or in full, to the designations, claiming they would lose the flexibility to engage in future redevelopments of their property. To do so they would have to seek approval from the BAR. Councilors wrestled with the idea of moving forward without the owners full consent. Mayor

Dave Norris

asked staff to consider the possibility of providing incentives to help “soften the blow” of the approved restrictions. This could be achieved, in the form of tax breaks, or through recommendation to the National Historic Register.

Council also spent time deliberating between protecting the whole parcel and selecting important the parts of the building for protection. The dilemma arose because many of these buildings have been added to several times, and some of the owners were willing to grant protection of the old portion while seeking to retain the right to alter the less significant additions. In August, the City Planning Commission had struck a compromise by selecting individual buildings in larger parcels but not breaking down the buildings into parts. Council’s action followed this reasoning, except in the case of the Coca-Cola plant on Preston, which was approved only for front portion of the building facing the street.

Other properties are also working their way through the approval process to become individually protected. On October 6, Council will hear the first reading of an ordinance to protect Holy Temple Church of God on Rosser Avenue. Two other public hearings for Fry’s Spring Beach Club and 603 Dale Avenue have not yet been scheduled according to Mary Joy Scala, the City’s Preservation and Design Planner.

Daniel Nairn