Looking west at a rendering of William Taylor Plaza Credit: Credit: BCA Architects and Engineers

Residents living near the corner of Ridge Street and Cherry Avenue pleaded with the Charlottesville City Council on Monday to deny a zoning amendment that would pave the way for a hotel to be built as part of the mixed-use development known as William Taylor Plaza.

A representative of the Ridge Street Neighborhood Association presented the council with a petition with more than 500 signatures from people opposed to the hotel.

“A hotel on this gateway property does not serve residents of the surrounding neighborhood, does not complement the neighborhood’s historic or environmental assets, does not activate the street and has not been presented to residents in context to the city’s Strategic Investment Area plan,” reads the petition.

However, a hotel is an allowed use because of a 2009 rezoning that granted Southern Development greater residential density on the Ridge Street portion of the site.

“In the original 2009 planned unit development rezoning, [the application] only stated that this would be a mixed-use development with commercial and residential use,” said city planner Matt Alfele. “The proffered development plan did not go into any detail about what type of commercial.”

As part of the rezoning in 2009, Southern Development agreed to a condition that 90 percent of the parking spaces be built in a structure.

Southern Development is seeking to reduce that requirement to 60 percent to accommodate a Marriott-branded hotel that wants more surface parking behind the structure.

Plans submitted state that the hotel would likely be a Fairfield Inn and Suites, an economy brand that has more than 700 locations across the world. There is one such franchise on Branchlands Boulevard off U.S. 29.

Five of seven planning commissioners present at their May meeting recommended that the council deny the amendment.

The council held the first reading for the amendment in June. A majority of councilors indicated they would support the change.

The petition was organized in part by the Ridge Street Neighborhood Association and Melvin Grady, who was a candidate in the 2013 Democratic Primary for the City Council.

“The residents of the Ridge Street and Fifeville neighborhoods have stated overwhelmingly that they do not want a hotel at the corner of Ridge and Cherry,” Grady said.

Grady said he understood that the rezoning amendment was not about the hotel, but that it should not be built with opposition from several hundred people and over the planning commission’s recommendation.

“Voting to change the rezoning after getting this petition is not democracy in action,” Grady added. “The fact that decisions are being made without proper input from residents is not in keeping with the council’s vision statement concerning ‘smart, citizen-focused government.’”

A resident of Midway Manor said the entire development was not consistent with the Ridge Street Historic District.  The area became a neighborhood for both wealthy merchants and the African-American community in the late 19th century. 


“All of the historical places in Charlottesville for black people are gone,” said Mary Carey. “Do you hear us? We are people in this community and we have heritage here.”

Council’s discussion of the item took place late Monday.

West Main discussion delayed

The council had been scheduled to weigh in during the meeting on the future of the West Main Streetscape, but decisions about implementation of the $340,000 planning study will not be made until at least Aug. 17.

The city hired the Alexandria-based firm of Rhodeside & Harwell to recommend changes to the street’s configuration and work on the plan began in October 2013. However, the council has not taken a position on the how to proceed after being presented with a $30 million price tag in December.

The council did agree in June to initiate a study of whether to change the zoning on West Main Street to limit the heights of future buildings. Both items will be the subject of a July 28 Planning Commission work session.

Also, developer Oliver Kuttner deferred consideration of a special use permit to allow up to 233 small apartments at 201 Garrett St. The item will be heard on a future agenda.