A new indoor athletic training facility soon will have a home at an existing warehouse just outside the city of Charlottesville.
“It’s a neat opportunity for kids who love sports,” said Tom Weber, representing Broadway Street Soccer, at a recent meeting of the Albemarle County Board of Supervisors.
The board unanimously approved a special-use permit to allow the sports complex. The facility, to be located at 1740 Broadway St. in the county, near the city’s Woolen Mills neighborhood, will use less than half of a vacant 48,000-square-foot warehouse for a business catering to soccer, field hockey and lacrosse players.
Weber said this particular warehouse was the perfect option, the owners supported the idea, and that a group of parents wanted to get this facility running until a larger one can be built elsewhere.
“This is a springboard and temporary location,” Weber said. He also mentioned that he was the only applicant interested in the warehouse that could start paying rent immediately.
In November, the Albemarle Planning Commission recommended limiting the life of the special-use permit to four years, given the warehouse’s location in a light-industrial district.
“If the facility was changing light-industrial land for something like apartments, I wouldn’t agree,” said Supervisor Ann H. Mallek. “This is just pulling up turf after the lease is up and moving it on to another place.”
The facility will include three small fields about the size of a basketball court, limiting the number of athletes at any given time.
That cleared up another concern of the board regarding parking and how many vehicles would be there every hour. The target age group is 8- to 14-year-olds, with many of the children expected to be dropped off by parents and picked up later.
The location of the indoor fields will be near two manufacturing facilities — Lumi Juice and an extension of Champion Brewery.
Hillary Lewis, owner of Lumi Juice, urged the board not to approve the training facility because she said it is an unsafe area for children because of traffic. She thinks the area should be reserved for manufacturing.
“Big trucks come around there at all hours,” Lewis said. “It’s not a safe place, nor consistent with the culture surrounding it.”
Following her comment, Patrick Grimes, of Albemarle County, urged the board to consider it. He said he and his son got into a wreck on the way to a similar soccer facility in Richmond.
“Facilities are hard to find, and we are one of many families who make that drive,” Grimes said. “There are dangers for traffic wherever you go and it’s not ideal to drive 60 or 70 miles each way.”
Weber said he believes children will be safe at the Broadway Street location and emphasized the temporary nature of the lease. He said the bigger concern is that there are few safe training facilities around the area right now.
“Now, kids are playing in school gyms with no padding or nets,” he said. “This will have padded posts, netting and cushioned floor, which is much safer.”
Supervisor Jane Dittmar said that having a reinvigorated focus on this particular light-industrial area would be great because other new businesses and families will be coming around that part of town.
“We could see some good things happening,” she said. “I don’t feel worried about giving up this area at all temporarily.”