Renderings of new building at 925 E. Market Street Credit: Credit: dBF Associates Architects

The Charlottesville Planning Commission voted 5-2 Tuesday to recommend a special-use permit to allow Woodward Properties and CMB Development to construct a five-story apartment building at the corner of 10th and Market streets downtown.  

The approval came despite pleas from nearby residents for officials to take more time to weigh the project’s impact.

“There is a lot going on in this neighborhood,” said George Gilliam, a former city councilor and resident of the adjacent Randolph condominium complex.

To the north, work is proceeding on the redevelopment of the former Martha Jefferson Hospital to accommodate the CFA Institute and other firms. To the south, construction on the 301-unit City Walk apartment complex continues.

The property slated for development is currently home to ABC Preschool, a facility that will move to a new location on Market Street early next year.

In all, the developers have proposed 56 units and 20,000 square feet of commercial space on the ground and first floors. A structured parking garage with 100 spaces is also planned underneath the building.  

“Staff believes the proposed development will be harmonious with existing patterns of use and development within the neighborhood,” said city planner Michael Smith. “[It] provides residential density at a location within walking and biking distance of the Downtown Transit Station, Downtown Mall and major employers.”

Gilliam asked for the city to take more time to study the area.

“To throw another densely developed building into the mix at this stage, with the significant unknowns and potential problems lurking, strikes me as perhaps several months premature,” Gilliam said.

The building is projected to generate 851 new vehicular trips a day, but Smith said he did not feel that would have an adverse impact on the neighborhood. The developer will build sidewalks on 10th and Market, filling two current gaps in the system.

“What we’re doing is working with the city to provide the sidewalk circulation and greenspace,” said Richard J. Funk, vice president of the architectural firm dBF Associates.

Some commissioners shared Gilliam’s concerns about the effect the additional density would have on traffic.

Initially, the site plan showed two entrances to the parking structure on 10th Street.

“That seems like it could be a perfect storm of bottling up 10th Street in a horrific kind of way,” said Commissioner John Santoski.

The commission’s approval was conditioned on a requirement that the site plan be redesigned to have one of those entrances moved to an alleyway parallel to Market Street.

“We certainly will do our best to address your concerns,” said developer Keith Woodard.

Other conditions included wider sidewalks on 10th Street and a requirement that private clubs be restricted from using the commercial space on the ground floor.

Commissioners Lisa Green and Michael Osteen voted against the project.

“I’m sympathetic to the application moving fast, but the city hasn’t been engaged on how to do the sidewalk and streetscape,” Osteen said.

The development will be marketed to young professionals and not to families. Most of the units will be rentals, but Funk said condominiums could be part of the building. That decision won’t be made until a full market study is conducted.

The project is not subject to entrance corridor review guidelines or design review from the Board of Architectural Review.

As part of the application, developers will contribute $122,444 to the city’s Affordable Housing Fund.

Gilliam said he generally supports the creation of residential units downtown, but wanted staff to take the time to further study the impacts.

“With a few more residential rooftops, a major food store will likely decide to locate somewhere in the immediate area,” Gilliam said. “I am not hostile to this type of development. I just would like to see it proceed in a way and at a pace that lets us maximize the benefits and minimize the burdens.”

The City Council will consider the special-use permit at a future meeting.