The site of a former Better Living Building Supply storefront on U.S. 29 is slated to become the new home of Malloy Ford.
“What we’re showing is a major transformation of this site and I think a really interesting and appropriate reuse of the existing warehouse building,” said Ashley Davies, with the firm Williams Mullen.
“I think it’s really going to breathe new life into the site,” she said.
A building that had been used by Better Living as a building supply store and warehouse will be renovated into a new Malloy showroom. An addition will be built on the rear for a repair shop.
Davies made her comments earlier this week before Albemarle County’s Architectural Review Board. The panel must approve the design for it to move forward because the location is along one of the county’s entrance corridors.
“The proposed design for the building is a very contemporary one and doesn’t really reflect the traditional architecture of the area,” said county planner Margaret Maliszewski. “The design includes the addition of branding elements to help tie this particular location to the corporate standard.”
Better Living Building Supply will remain next door to the south, in the company’s former furniture store space, and has plans to expand with a new building. The ARB granted preliminary design approval for that proposal in August.
The Malloy group has locations in Winchester and Woodbridge. The company also sells Mazda, Hyundai and Mitsubishi vehicles.
Malloy first came to the region in 2013 when it took over a building on Pantops Mountain that had been occupied by Battlefield Ford.
A representative for Malloy Ford said in an interview that Malloy will retain the building on Pantops for a similar use, but the exact plans are still being determined.
The Board of Supervisors would need to approve a special-use permit for outdoor sales, storage and display for the new dealership on U.S. 29 to proceed.
Maliszewski said the proposed architecture shares elements with nearby showrooms such as those for the Jim Price Auto Group and the Brown Automotive Group. She said the metal and glass used in the structure contribute to a modern style.
“The material, color, texture and reflective finish emphasize modern design rather than historic architecture of the county,” Maliszewski said. “The inclusion of glass here is an improvement over the existing building.”
Davies said Ford wants its dealerships to look modern and her role is to help facilitate a back-and-forth discussion about how the design can be adjusted to make it appropriate for Albemarle.
“We really wanted to come in for a conceptual review first because, from the very beginning of this project, [staff] has been very clear that the county isn’t going to just accept everybody’s brand standards, so we want to start these conversations early,” Davies said.
Kurt Keesecker, of BRW Architects, is working with Davies on the project.
“Since we’re familiar with the context, we’re going to try to be the intermediary liaison and try to propose some solutions that may have been appropriate in this area on past projects,” Keesecker said.
Keesecker’s boss, ARB member Bruce Wardell, recused himself from the discussion.
The remaining three ARB members present said they had no issue with the site plan but had some concern over the brightness of the reflective metallic siding.
“We’re not allowed to design it or help you design it, but we can tell you that’s just not what we typically see,” said Chuck Lebo.
Fred Missel said it will be important for the design to match other approved projects along U.S. 29.
“You all do scale, proportions, materials and transparency so well,” Missel said. “The materials are one thing. The brand is another thing. The corridor has to trump those things.”
The item will return before the ARB with more details at a later date.
Keesecker said the ARB’s initial feedback was helpful.
“Massing-wise, generally, we’re OK in terms of our openings and the footprint of the building,” Keesecker said. “Most of what we need to come back and explore are the materials.”
The ARB also granted approval of an initial site plan for a Staybridge Suites hotel in Hollymead Town Center at the corner of Meeting Street and Timberwood Boulevard.
The building has been reduced in height from five stories to four.