A group of developers has submitted plans for a development that would transform a vacant block on West Main Street into a 219-unit mixed-use housing complex that will be marketed to University of Virginia students.

The Plaza on West Main, which is being proposed by Riverbend Management and Ambling University Development Group, would be constructed between the Amtrak station and the Hampton Inn. Two buildings would be built on a 2.12 acre parcel on which a former auto repair facility stands vacant.
“We’ve owned that property for a long time and looked at that whole area and felt it’s an urban desert between the Corner and downtown,” said Alan Taylor, vice president of Riverbend Management. “We thought bringing students down West Main Street would help revitalize the corridor.” 
The complex also be a half-mile walk to the Downtown Mall and is on several Charlottesville Area Transit routes.
The project will require a special use permit in order to have a housing density of 103 dwelling units per acre. The existing zoning restricts the density to 43 units per acre.
The building that fronts West Main Street will be a six-story structure that will contain 125 of the residential units, a 5,145 square foot restaurant with café seating, a courtyard and a fitness room. Two retail spaces will also be available.
An SUP is also required to build a 101-foot, eight-story building that would be stepped back from West Main Street. The structure can only be 70-feet tall by-right. This building will hold the rest of the apartments, as well as a clubhouse and a swimming pool.
The project as planned depicts a 405 car parking garage, of which 40 will be reserved for commercial uses in the building.
The city’s director of economic development, Chris Engel, said that Plaza on West Main, if it proceeds, would help transform one of the city’s most important streets.
He said he predicts that West Main will look very different 10 years from now.
“West Main is one of the city’s key corridors that is prime for development,” Engel said. “It represents a significant opportunity to realize job creation and quality infill development that connects downtown with the university area.”
The development is part of a revitalization trend on West Main Street. In the past year, developer Gabe Silverman has both paved the Amtrak Station’s parking lot and renovated several vacant buildings. Two restaurants and a clothing store opened their doors in those buildings this summer. Additionally, Habitat for Humanity of Greater Charlottesville opened up their regional headquarters at the corner of West Main and 10th Street earlier this year.
The applicants have also submitted materials to the Board of Architectural Review because the project is an architectural design control district.
“The body of the building massing is broken down visually to appear as a series of buildings joined together to fit into the scale of the area,” reads the material prepared by Niles Bolton Associations for submission to the BAR.
The Plaza on West Main will go before the Planning Commission for a preliminary discussion on October 9 followed by a presentation to the Board of Architectural Review a week later. The Planning Commission’s public hearing will be held in November.