Updated at 12:16 p.m.
Developers, architects, builders and realtors scattered soil on Tuesday to begin construction of the first of three new buildings on Preston Avenue. The complex, known as Dairy Central, will include food stalls, restaurants, office space and 251 apartments.
The building was constructed in 1937 as a home for Monticello Dairy Inc, a local ice cream production company that had expanded into milk, cheese and butter. During the groundbreaking, developer Chris Henry said that he hoped to continue that history in Dairy Central.
"This remarkable facility was once the center of milk, cheese and ice cream production throughout Charlottesville and Albemarle County — a true farm-to-table operation," said Henry, who is the president of Stony Point Design/Build. "We are beyond excited to reinterpret this history through Dairy Market, a food hall and community gathering place that will inhabit the historic portions of the building standing today."
One of the future tenants of the food hall, Angelic's Kitchen, catered for the ceremony. Angelic Jenkins founded Angelic's Kitchen after graduating from the Community Investment Collaborative entrepreneurship program in 2015.
"Our focus will be soul food — fried fish, macaroni and cheese, chicken..." Jenkins said. "And hush puppies. The hush puppies are always popular."
The 10th and Page neighborhood, which lies between Preston and West Main Street and is primarily African-American, is likely to be the neighborhood most impacted by the development. When the City Council approved Dairy Central, councilors commended the developers' efforts to engage with the neighborhood and suggested that the process could be a model for other teams.
Developers plan to open Dairy Central in 2020.