A narrow 3-acre strip near the Giant grocery store on Pantops is the perfect place for a hotel, according to engineer Justin Shimp. Shimp represented family-owned company DCJM Investments LLC on Monday at an Albemarle County Architectural Review Board meeting about the hypothetical hotel. Dennis and Julie Minetos, of DCJM Investments, also own and run the neighboring Auto Superstore.The hotel is in the very preliminary stages and does not even have a particular chain or company associated with it yet. But the shape of the property, the views from Pantops and the traffic needs and infrastructure made this use of the property ideal for the tentatively named Overlook Hotel.

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“If it were my hotel, I would put a rooftop bar up there because it’s a great view, but that would be up to whoever operates the hotel,” Shimp said. The county review board did not agree with Shimp that the site is ready for a hotel at this moment. The board decided not to recommend approval of the Overlook Hotel’s initial site plan until the development team can remove several restrictions accumulated on the land over time. The property was part of the original plans for Pantops and the Rivanna Ridge Shopping Center created under Charles Hurt. A 70-room hotel was even envisioned on the site, Shimp said. Shimp plans to apply to the Board of Supervisors to rezone the property to remove several rules carried over from that time, including a maximum amount of floor space that is much too small for a hotel. Shimp also was hired for efforts to build a Holiday Inn Express & Suites slightly down the road towards Charlottesville at the intersection of the U.S. 250 and Stony Point Road.

  • location: south side of U.S. 250 near the intersection with Hansen Road
  • scale: 100-115 rooms in four stories, 2.69 acres
  • amenities: 117 underground and surface parking spaces
  • next steps: Pantops Community Advisory Committee meeting in 3-4 months
Shawn and Atieno Bird rent out rooms in their home in Crozet a few times a month. Credit: Credit: Emily Hays/Charlottesville Tomorrow Credit: Credit: Emily Hays/Charlottesville Tomorrow

Crozet couple wins approval in first test of new homestay rules

Shawn and Atieno Bird’s house on McCauley Street was the first public test of Albemarle County’s new system for regulating Airbnbs and other homestays. The county changed its homestay regulationsin August to require these properties to register every year with the county, pass annual fire inspections and follow certain rules designed to reduce disturbances to neighbors. Based on the location of the Birds’ house, the couple was only allowed to book guests in two rooms of their house and not in the second, smaller structure on their property. The Birds asked the county for a waiver to be able to rent out up to four rooms at a time, including up to one room in the accessory structure. The Board of Supervisors, two of whom were recently elected and one re-elected this fall, unanimously approved the Birds’ request and thanked them for being guinea pigs for the new process. The couple said that they were very grateful for the support but do not understand the need for many of the rules.The most lenient rules are for large rural properties. A good start to a business-friendly process, Shawn Bird said, would be to apply those regulations everywhere. One key rule is that large rural properties are allowed to rent out an entire house without a manager present several days a year. “Typically, a family uses Airbnb because they want to rent the house. They don’t want us to be there, and we don’t want to be there,” Atieno Bird said.County planner Rebecca Ragsdale said that there are seven other similar waivers pending to go to the Board of Supervisors.

  • address: intersection of McCauley Street and St. George Avenue
  • next steps: public meeting on results of homestay changes in April
Chick-fil-A, Inc. has won an approval to demolish the Burger King in the Barracks Road Shopping Center and build a new restaurant with a drive-thru. Credit: Credit: Submitted rendering Credit: Credit: Submitted rendering

Council approves Barracks Road Chick-fil-A

The Burger King restaurant in the Barracks Road Shopping Center now has the key approval needed to transform into a Chick-fil-A.The new Charlottesville City Council on Monday approved Chick-fil-A, Inc.’s application to build a drive-thru on the property. Three members of the five-person council began their first terms at the meeting. New Councilor Michael Payne cast the sole vote against the drive-thru, saying that he campaigned on walkability and was not ready to give up that vision just yet. Councilor Heather Hill provided the counterpoint that the context of the shopping center is not at all walkable and she would not be letting her children walk through it any time soon. 

  • address: 1000 N. Emmet St.
  • estimated menu prices: $3.75 chicken sandwich to $8.19 southwestern-style salad
Residents meet at the South First Street community center to give input and get information about the upcoming plans for redevelopment in the neighborhood, June 14, 2019. Credit: Credit: Zack Wajsgras/Charlottesville Tomorrow Credit: Credit: Zack Wajsgras/Charlottesville Tomorrow

South First Street approved

The first resident-led plan to redevelop Charlottesville public housing has City Council’s support. The City Council on Monday unanimously approved a special use permit for the South First Street neighborhood. Mayor Nikuyah Walker said this sets a new standard for redevelopment of the Charlottesville Redevelopment and Housing Authority properties.While the two other sites being redeveloped first – Crescent Halls and the South First Street ballfield – had resident input and leadership, the plan discussed on Monday is the outcome of months of work by a dozen women who live in the existing South First Street. The resident planners settled on a layout of townhouses and apartment buildings clustered around courtyards, where parents standing in a kitchen windows would be able to see their children play.  

  • location: 900-1000 S. First St.
  • scale: 113 one- to five-bedroom townhomes and apartments
  • amenities: clubhouse, non-residential space, basketball court, bicycle parking 
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Emily Hays

Emily Hays grew up in Charlottesville and graduated from Yale in 2016. She covered growth, development, and affordable living. Before writing for Charlottesville Tomorrow, she produced a podcast on education and caste in Maharashtra, India.