The Shops at Stonefield will soon include a second Hyatt hotel.
The new Hyatt House hotel, which would be up to six stories tall, got the Albemarle County Architectural Review Board’s stamp of approval on Monday.
“With the Hyatt Place on the other side, it basically creates a gateway on that District Avenue: one side is the Hyatt Place and the other side is the Hyatt House,” said hotel architect Neil Bhatt, of NBJ Architecture.
Ojas Desai, the vice president of asset management for the company that owns Stonefield, O’Connor Capital Partners, said that the creation of opportunity zones in late 2017 helped to generate interest in the hotel project, as well as other ideas for developing the available space at the shopping center.
“It’s obviously a new program, so people are still sort of investigating,” Desai said. “From the retail perspective, just having all that traffic — it’s not a downtown, but maybe it will be a downtown, part B.”
Created by the Federal Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 to revitalize low-income census tracts, the opportunity zone provision allows investors to defer and reduce taxes on investments made in one of the qualified census tracts. In the case of the Hyatt hotel, the longer developers hold onto it, the lower the federal tax on the sale of the property would be.
Census tracts qualified by having a lower-than-average median income or a higher poverty rate and are nominated by localities. Opportunity zones in Charlottesville and Albemarle include areas around Cherry Avenue, Friendship Court, Habitat for Humanity’s Southwood neighborhood and the Stonefield shopping center.
“When the state was soliciting the tracts that would be nominated to the treasury department, a big part of our rationale was here are the places where we’ve engaged the community. We’ve done the planning, at least relative to other areas that could use the investment,” Albemarle’s economic development coordinator J.T. Newberry said in January.
The county completed a joint small area plan for the Hydraulic Road and U.S. 29 intersection with the city of Charlottesville in the fall of 2017.
The new Hyatt House hotel mirrors the Hyatt Place already in Stonefield but matches the more contemporary style of the rest of the shopping center.
“Hyatt Place is more a transitional contemporary building. It is contemporary, but not as contemporary as the entire Stonefield development that took place afterwards,” Bhatt said. “We see this Hyatt House as a culmination of the retail development.”
The new hotel fills a different niche from the more luxurious Hyatt Place. The Hyatt House is catered to corporate guests staying several days at a time; its rooms have kitchens, which allow guests attending seminars or completing accounting audits to avoid dining out for every meal.
The hotel also includes a single-story retail component, designed to look like neighboring shops.
The land where hotel will stand is currently a grassy space used for festivals. Desai said that the developers would like to continue such events, perhaps by closing down one of the shopping center’s internal streets.
The Hyatt House team still has several county processes to complete before they can start construction, including approval of the hotel’s lighting plans and approval of a special exception for the hotel’s height.
The ARB is expected to discuss the Stonefield shopping center again at its next meeting on April 15. Not all of the townhomes approved for the center have been built, and the architectural design for some of the remaining townhomes has changed.
Emily Hays grew up in Charlottesville and graduated from Yale in 2016. She covered growth, development, and affordable living. Before writing for Charlottesville Tomorrow, she produced a podcast on education and caste in Maharashtra, India.