Design panel gets first look at Monticello Dairy redevelopment

The Charlottesville Board of Architectural Review had the chance Tuesday to take a first look at plans for the redevelopment of the former Monticello Dairy building on Preston Avenue.

“In the rehabilitation work, we can bring this building back so people think about it a little bit differently,” said Lee Quill, the architect hired by Stony Point Design Build to work on the project.

“This project has a real potential for putting this building back into the forefront of Charlottesville,” Quill said.

Quill and representatives from Stony Point Design Build appeared before the BAR for a preliminary
 about demolition of portions of the site.

“This is phase one of a multi-phase project, and we’ll be back here many more times,” said Chris Henry, of Stony Point Design Build. “This is kicking off the rehabilitation of the existing dairy building for what we think will be an exciting mix of new retail and a new office space.”

Much of the building was designated as an individually protected property in 2008, which means the BAR must approve demolition permits.

“The original central two-story portion and the flanking one-story portions are dated to 1937,” said Mary Joy Scala, the city’s historic preservation planner.

The eastern section of the building that is now Cho’s Nachos and Beer was built in 1947. The western section of the building that is now Central Battery Specialists was built in 1959.

The request is to demolish a second-story addition that was built in 1959, as well as the parts of the building that are not covered by the property designation.

The first phase would include two additions, one of which would encroach on the protected portion of the property. The second would be three stories tall, with a parking garage below.

“The additions being presented tonight are the most important pieces in the development because their designs will frame and enhance the older building,” Scala said.

The architectural team is Cunningham Quill, the same firm that worked on the 2013 study of the city’s Strategic Investment Area.

“We do a lot of historic adaptive reuse in the Washington region, and we’re very excited about working down here,” Quill said.

Two restaurant spaces will be built in the first phase. A skylight atop what used to be the dairy’s cold storage room will be refurbished.

“I think that will be an amazing feature and will bring light back into the building,” Quill said.

The large vehicle repair shop on West Street is also part of the property but is not slated for redevelopment at this time.

“On the top and on the back, we’re adding office space,” Quill said. “The whole first floor is going to be retail.”

Quill said future phases will step down in size as they approach smaller structures in the 10th and Page neighborhood.

Quill wanted to know if the BAR had any concerns about what has been presented so far.

“I don’t have any issue with the rooftop removal, per se,” said BAR member Breck Gastinger.

“This is a really exciting project,” said BAR member Stephen Balut. “It’s clear you have already put a lot of thought into it at the very beginning and your approach to it seems very considerate and ambitious and creative.”

However, one BAR member who lives nearby the development pointed out that it must proceed careful-ly, given neighborhood concerns about gentrification.

“There’s a lot of fear, and there’s nothing the neighborhood can really do a lot about this project, but there’s a lot of fear,” said Carl Schwartz.

Quill said he was aware of the concerns and that he was listening.

Gastinger said how the Monticello Dairy building develops will set the tone for the rest of the area.

“This is not only at a critical intersection for the city but also important for setting the tone for future de-velopment on Preston Avenue,” Gastinger said. “Preston always will have a different character from our other corridors. It very much should be different from the Downtown Mall and West Main.”

In an interview with Charlottesville Tomorrow, Henry said the second phase could include mixed-income residential units that will be developed through dialogue with the city and the neighborhood.