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Development Digest: Tech companies reserve space at Dairy Central

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Two national-level technology companies are planning to settle into Charlottesville’s 10th and Page neighborhood this spring and summer. 

CoStar Group and Dexcom have reserved 35% of the office tower in Dairy Central, the development team behind the live-work-play complex on the old Monticello Dairy property announced on Monday. CoStar Group manages several international real estate listing and analysis sites like , while Dexcom provides glucose monitoring for people living with diabetes.

The two companies are part of the growing tech scene in Charlottesville. Dexcom already has employees in Charlottesville from its acquisition of local company TypeZero Technologies and plans to expand. CoStar Group will be new to the area.

Charlottesville economic development director Chris Engel said that he expects Dexcom and CoStar Group to locate around 100 jobs at Dairy Central, based on the square footage the two companies are leasing. 

The development team hopes to keep those working at Dairy Central on-site as much as possible. Office workers will be able to live in apartments on the property and take lunch breaks at the food hall in the renovated Monticello Dairy building. 

This set-up is part of why 80% of the office space is already leased, according to the company that is managing the leases, Cushman & Wakefield | Thalhimer.

“One of the big reasons Dairy Central is so appealing to office tenants is being able to sell that they have every draw that a young employee would want in their office environment,” said Thalhimer’s John Pritzlaff.

  • address: 946 Grady Ave.
  • scale: 180 apartments; 50,000 square feet of office space; 30,000 square feet of food stalls, restaurants and retail
  • food hall price points: from $10 lunch option upwards
  • next steps: openings this spring and summer
View of the construction site of the Center of Developing Entrepreneurs on the western end of the Downtown Mall.

How to keep a crane from falling

On windy days, the 232-foot-tall crane in the former Charlottesville Ice Rink site rotates gently over the western end of the Downtown Mall.

The crane eventually will construct the Center of Developing Entrepreneurs, which will be nine stories tall at its highest point. 

Safety is top-of-mind for Hourigan, the company in charge of construction at the site — particularly after a recent crane accident elsewhere downtown. 

“We take it very seriously because, obviously, construction is a risky business. We have to look out not only for our employees on the site but the general public,” said Mike Castle, who directs Hourigan projects in Charlottesville.

Part of a crane collapsed near Garrett Street on Jan. 6 during construction of the high-end office building 3Twenty3, injuring one construction worker. The crane has been taken down and removed from the site, and work has stopped until engineers and safety professionals can figure out what went wrong. 

We take it very seriously because, obviously, construction is a risky business.

Mike Castle, director of western business unit at Hourigan

This was the first time within memory that a crane-related accident happened on one of Batson-Cook’s construction sites, according to company communication manager Jason Wasulko. Wasulko declined to provide an update on the status of the worker’s injury, out of respect for him.

The crane at the CODE site is a different type than the moveable, crawler crane that fell at 3Twenty3. The CODE crane is stationary and was inspected both when the base was engineered and when the crane was erected. Wasulko said that the 3Twenty3 also was inspected by a third party when it was installed and that it was inspected regularly.

“Yes, cranes are a big deal,” Castle said. “It’s unfortunate what happened down the street. I do feel for them.” 

Castle said that the CODE crane also is inspected daily by Hourigan’s on-site safety manager and weekly by the crane supplier. The crane never carries a load beyond the construction barricades to avoid putting the public in harm’s way. 

Castle said that Hourigan has not had any crane accidents and that the company has a better worker safety rating — used by insurance companies — than the industry standard.

  • address: 218-230 W. Main St.
  • scale: 500-600 jobs, including several large businesses already in the area
  • amenities: plaza, auditorium, food stalls, parking garage, green roof, showers for bikers, lactation room, podcast recording space
  • next steps: construction estimated to be complete by summer of 2021
This drawing illustrates what Virginia Land Co. generally wants the Hollymead Town Center to look like.

New housing approved for Hollymead

As big box stores have declined, developers are starting to reimagine strip malls as places for housing. 

The Albemarle County Board of Supervisors unanimously approved Virginia Land Co.’s request on Wednesday to allow housing in areas of Hollymead that had been planned as commercial spaces. 

Shimp Engineering represented Charles Hurt and Shirley Fisher of Virginia Land Co. in the meeting. As part of his presentation, Justin Shimp showed how the value of Amazon versus department stores like Sears and JC Penney has changed since 2003, when Hollymead Town Center was first approved.

The stock prices of the three companies were somewhat similar during that rezoning, around $20-$50 a share. Now, each share of Amazon’s stock is worth roughly $1,800, while each share of the two big box stores are worth less than $1. 

  • location: Timberwood Boulevard, off U.S. 29 north
  • scale: maximum of 230 apartments or townhomes in two blocks of Hollymead Town Center’s Area C
  • affordability requirement: 15% of housing
  • estimated affordable rents: $1,082/month for a one-bedroom apartment, based on U.S. Housing and Urban Development Fair Market Rents for 2020
  • amenities: green space, pocket park, potential gym or rooftop deck
  • next steps: site plan submission to county staff 
Developer Nicole Scro wants to build a one-story office building or furniture store, a cluster of small cottages and a row of townhomes at the intersection of Rio Road East and Belvedere Boulevard.

Small Rio Road development barely advances to Board of Supervisors

An attempt to bring a smaller, less expensive housing type within walking distance of Charlottesville has struggled to win county support. 

 The Albemarle County Planning Commission voted 4-3 on Tuesday to recommend developer Nicole Scro’s plan for the corner of East Rio Road and Belvedere Boulevard. The next public hearing will be Scro’s second attempt to win approval from the Board of Supervisors. 

Scro wants to build a cluster of small cottages and a row of townhomes, which would have downstairs apartments that could be rented out by the homeowners. The homes would be buffered from the traffic of Rio Road by landscaping and a commercial building.

The Dunlora neighborhood has organized against the project out of concerns about traffic and safety with the increasing development of the area. Six Dunlora neighbors spoke against the project at the hearing. One additional neighbor said that she has converted to supporting the project based on the need for housing and all the changes Scro has made to accommodate community concerns. 

Three commissioners — Corey Clayborne, Bruce Dotson and former supervisor Rick Randolph — still felt Scro was trying to do too much on the property and that the office building did not make sense in that location. 

  • address: 999 E. Rio Road
  • scale: 11-28 apartments, townhomes and cottages; office building or furniture store
  • estimated sales price: $280,000-380,000 cottages, around $480,000 townhomes subsidized by renting out downstairs apartment 
  • affordability: 15% of residences affordable to those making 60-80% of the area median income
  • amenities: biking/walking path leading to downtown Charlottesville, dog park, playground, common greenspace
  • next steps: Board of Supervisors meeting scheduled for March 4 
The drive-through for the new Human Bean location would face U.S. 250 and the front of the building would face Hunter’s Way.

Coffee shop recommended on outskirts of Pantops

Albemarle County tries to keep all development within growth areas around Charlottesville, Crozet and Rivanna Village. Some spots predate that policy and have to be dealt with separately.

The county Planning Commission voted unanimously on Tuesday that a coffee shop would be O.K. for one of those spots, a commercial block on U.S. 250 outside of Pantops. The commission reasoned that the shop would likely serve employees in the block and not draw additional traffic into a rural area.

The restaurant, which would not include a bathroom or indoor seating, would be attached to a hardware store. The chain imagined for the shop is Oregon-based drive-thru coffee company, The Human Bean.

  • address: 2300 Hunters Way
  • scale: two-story commercial building
  • price range: $ for a small, fresh-brewed coffee to $ for a large, Java Chip smoothie, at the nearest location in Lexington, Kentucky
  • amenities: walk-up and drive-thru windows
  • next steps: Board of Supervisors meeting