When the Sears in Fashion Square mall closed this spring, another chain was preparing to reanimate the store’s empty shell. Spirit Halloween takes over vacant stores in shopping malls across the country from August to November. The chain has an agreement to be in the former Charlottesville Sears during the fall this year and next year. When the Toys R Us location on Seminole Trail closed in 2018, Spirit Halloween took over that space. “We build our stores in less than 10 days from the ground up. We bring in special walls and fixtures and our own merchandise,” said Vickie Brewster, who is currently the district manager for four Spirit Halloween stores in Virginia.The store applied for and received approval from the Albemarle County Architectural Review Board in October to install its sign on the outside of Fashion Square, well after the store had opened for the season. Brewster said that the sign inside the mall did not need a permit, so shoppers still were able to find the store. On Wednesday afternoon, Brewster had yet to decide on her Halloween costume for the year. With her 30% employee discount, she said she already owns all of the costumes she wants from the store. 

  • address: 1531 E. Rio Road
  • scale: 30 employees
  • last day open to public: Sunday 
The 10th and Dairy apartments will be located at the intersection of 10th Street Northwest and Grady Avenue, behind the Dairy Market office and food hall. Credit: Credit: Stony Point Development Group Credit: Credit: Stony Point Development Group

Construction begins on 10th & Dairy apartments

As the renovation of the former Monticello Dairy building wraps up, the next phase of the future Dairy Central complex is beginning. Chris Henry, of Stony Point Development Group, and other partners in the project celebrated the groundbreaking on 10th and Dairy, the first apartment building in the complex. Another 71 apartments are possible in another phase.Henry said that the team wanted to set an example for how developers could contribute to affordable housing solutions by providing triple the number of units required and building them on-site. Another apartment phase would include an additional 5 affordable apartments.Henry proposed that the city help the team provide apartments for lower-income groups by redirecting some of the building’s future taxes directly into rent subsidies. The city did not agree on whether that would be a good idea, so that suggestion is not being implemented, according to city Director of Economic Development Chris Engel.

  • location: at the intersection of 10th Street Northwest and Grady Avenue, behind Dairy Market
  • scale: 180 apartments in 10th & Dairy, six floors but designed to look like four floors from the street
  • price points: from $1,300 one-bedroom apartment upwards
  • affordability requirement: yes, exceeded with 15 units affordable at 80% of area median income
  • amenities: courtyard with outdoor pool, fitness room, several lounge rooms, indoor fireplace, bike room, dog washroom 
  • parking: 137 underground spaces, 140 spaces shared with Dairy Market on surface parking lot
  • next steps: opening summer 2021 
Townhouses (represented in orange) would line South First Street while apartments (represented in yellow) would bookend the neighborhood on Elliott Avenue and Hartmans Mill Road. Credit: Credit: BRW Architects Credit: Credit: BRW Architects

Public housing residents present South First Street plan to city officials

As both public and nonprofit-owned housing has aged in Charlottesville, a movement to put residents at the center of decision-making has been gaining momentum. That movement took another step on Tuesday, when public housing residents presented a special use permit to the Charlottesville Planning Commission. Residents of the South First Street neighborhood have been meeting with BRW Architects every Sunday since June to devise the plan. Residents Pat Howard and Alesha Garland did the bulk of the presentation, describing the principles that guided their work and how the plan meets those values. For one example, many residents will be able to move into one-, two- and three-bedroom apartments being constructed this year on the South First Street ballfield before redevelopment begins on their neighborhood. However, several families live in four- and five-bedroom apartments now, so the resident planners decided to build those apartments first in a place that would not displace those them during construction.All of the planning commissioners lauded the residents and said that they saw the best practices in neighborhood design in the plan. The only critical comment was from commissioner Jody Lahendro, who said he was disappointed that the plan did not include more trees, given their health and environmental benefits. Planner Carrie Rainey said that the plan does not yet meet the city’s tree requirements and staff is providing that feedback to the team.

  • location: 900-1000 South First Street
  • scale: 113 one- to five-bedroom townhomes and apartments
  • amenities: clubhouse, non-residential space, basketball court, bicycle parking
  • next steps: Charlottesville Planning Commission vote scheduled for Dec. 10 
Grant Duffield listens to Westhaven resident Joy Johnson after a Charlottesville Redevelopment and Housing Authority meeting in May 2016. Credit: Credit: File photo Credit: Credit: File photo

Housing authority promises no delays due to director transition

The Charlottesville Redevelopment and Housing Authority has a plan for how it will handle the departure of Executive Director Grant Duffield. Rather than appoint one interim director, the authority is splitting the temporary responsibilities between three current staff members: redevelopment coordinator Dave Norris, interim director of operations Kathleen Glenn-Matthews and housing director Claudette Greene.The CRHA board members assured residents on Monday that they are committed to making sure all public housing services and redevelopment services continue uninterrupted. They are considering restructuring the executive director position and do not plan to post the job before January.Duffield has taken a position directing redevelopment efforts in Newport News after three years of championing a “residents first” mentality at CRHA.

  • most recent annual salary: $107,495
  • next steps: formation of executive director search committee 

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.