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Another hurdle cleared for Market Plaza on Water Street

The developers of the nine-story Market Plaza on Water Street have all the permissions they need from the city to schedule a ground-breaking for the L-shaped mixed-use building.

“We’re very pleased to have all of our approvals for Market Plaza and we appreciate breaking ground on the utility relocations in November,” said Gregory Powe, one of the architects who have been working on the development.

The Charlottesville City Council unanimously took three actions Monday that conclude a planning process that dates back to December 2013. That’s when councilors agreed to ask the private sector for proposals to develop the city-owned parking lot that has been home to the Charlottesville City Market since 1993.

“We’re not quick, but we get there in the end,” said City Councilor Kristin Szakos.

Construction of the building cannot begin until the above-ground power lines are relocated underground. Powe hopes actual construction will begin in April; occupancy is expected in January 2018.

When completed, Market Plaza will have 68 dwelling units, 55,000 square feet of office space and 10,000 square feet of retail space.

Council agreed to conditions under which the city will sell five parcels of land to a team led by Keith Woodard.

They also agreed to commit a large portion of the sales price to placing utility lines underground with the collaboration of the Charlottesville Economic Development Authority.

The city will receive a total of  $2.4 million for the property and will spend up to $ million to remove utility poles.  Woodard will invest a similar amount for utility relocation.

Council also approved the 99-year lease for the Department of Parks and Recreation to operate the City Market. Language was added earlier this month to expand the possible market times well into the evening.

“Those hours have been extended by the applicant to 9 p.m. closing times,” said Chris Engel, the city’s economic development director. “The previous version had it closing at 8 p.m.”

The market will have approximately 24,000 square feet of outdoor space as well as restrooms, indoor event space, elevators and parking spaces on market days.

“There’s also an option to add an additional market day in the future if the market demands that,” Engel said. The city can also use the space for other uses up to 10 times a year.

Councilor Bob Fenwick said he would support approval of the project but wanted to make sure all stakeholders were included in the conversation.

“For some reason the vendors have fallen out of this conversation and what we do tonight is in no way going to guarantee that the market is a success unless and until the vendors come back into this discussion,” Fenwick said.

Szakos expressed concerns that there was nothing in the language that would require benches or other street furniture in the plaza.

Attorney David Pettit, representing Powe and Woodard, said his clients would ensure there was at least some seating and that the Planning Commission will get to review a site plan.

“We’ll find a way to work it into the lease,” Pettit said.