Construction site at the new Fifth Street Station shopping area Credit: Credit: Andrew Shurtleff, The Daily Progress

While site work is well underway, developers of the Fifth Street Station shopping center in Albemarle County, just south of the Charlottesville line, say they are busy confirming additional tenants to join the Wegmans grocery store.

“The site work on that portion of the project, in fact the entire project, is already well underway,” said attorney Valerie Long with Williams Mullen. “The projected construction start date for the buildings is the fall of 2015.”

Long, counsel for 5th Street Station Ventures, confirmed additional planned tenants include Field & Stream, Dick’s Sporting Goods, Mattress Warehouse, Panera Bread, Lee Nails, PetSmart, Great Clips, Hair Cuttery, Jersey Mikes, Sprint and the Virginia ABC.

Eight other leases are in active negotiations with the developer, Long said.

Area residents will begin to see an increase in construction activity during the coming months. All businesses in the shopping center, including the Wegmans, are expected to open in the fall of 2016.

The portion of the shopping center that will include Dick’s, Field & Stream and other stores was reviewed by the county’s Architectural Review Board at its June 15 meeting. Reviewed buildings included ones located directly to the east of the planned Wegmans and visible along the Interstate 64 entrance corridor.

The board also reviewed plans for a vegetated retaining wall on the south side of the site. The wall will be landscaped with a variety of trees and bushes to screen a portion of the building from the I-64 viewshed.

Daniel Hines, a civil engineer working on the project, assured the board that the retaining wall would be hidden from view. “It is very difficult to see the retaining wall from the highway … it will be vegetated and you won’t even notice it’s there.”

VIEW SLIDESHOW of Fifth Street Station plans
Credit: Andrew Shurtleff, The Daily Progress

The color palette of the buildings closest to the highway also was discussed. The Wegmans color palette, which includes a red or brick color, was used to inspire colors on the nearby buildings. The board emphasized that darker-toned, natural colors should be used to be less visible for cars passing on the highway.

Board member Bruce Wardell noted the large size of the development.

“We are building a building on the side of this corridor that is a fifth of a mile long,” Wardell said. “It’s multiple times larger than things like the Coliseum and the Pyramids. If this was built 2,000 years ago, people would come from all over the world to see it.”

Wardell recognized that the designers for the development have made efforts to make the stores visually welcoming. “They’ve done a good job of breaking its size down into humanly identifiable scales,” Wardell said. “We were looking at Wegmans as an idyllic shire in the forest. It’s really not that. It will be visible, and that is why good architecture is important.”

Overall, the board members said they were pleased with efforts made by the applicant’s team to incorporate Albemarle planning staff’s suggestions to improve the design.

“I think they’ve made good progress on the comments already, and the façade itself is well-defined,” said board member Fred Missell.

The Board of Architectural Review voted 3-0 to approve a certificate of appropriateness for this phase of the development. Board member Charles Lebo recused himself at the beginning of the meeting because of his affiliation with the Rio Hill Shopping Center, which also houses a Dick’s Sporting Goods.