Another development proposal is testing out Albemarle County’s plan to transform its aging shopping malls.A developer wants to build a Sleep Number mattress store on U.S. 29 on the edge of land covered by Albemarle’s Rio29 Small Area Plan. Presently, the development is expected to take place in two phases — one to construct the store and one for a yet to be identified development. The currently wooded space is on the east side of Route 29, south of Fashion Square mall and north of a BB&T bank location. “It’s a phasing portion of the project,” said Scott Collins, who represented property owner BB&T, now Truist, during an Albemarle County Architecture Review Board meeting this week. “We will develop the first half, knowing that this ties in at the very edge of the Rio29 Small Area Plan.”

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The small area plan, adopted in December 2018, is a guiding plan for development and redevelopment in a 400-acre stretch of the county’s urban ring. While more than half of the area is commercial real estate, there are single-family and multifamily dwelling units within it. As the rezoning for the Sleep Number and future project is underway, the project will need to be presented to the county’s ARB once more before it could be reviewed by the county’s Planning Commission in February and potentially land on a Board of Supervisors agenda in March or April. “From a site development standpoint, they were pretty happy with the overall site layout and design,” Collins said of the ARB’s recent feedback. “From a building standpoint, the overall characteristics looked great to them. The only thing we have to look at is the compound materials being used to ensure they mix well with the characteristics in Rio29.”At this time, Collins says there are no estimated construction costs for the project and could not clarify what the second phase of the development could be. During the ARB meeting, he did suggest that the developments could be tied in with the possible redevelopment of Fashion Square. Another development proposal recently approved by the Board of Supervisors also takes a two-phased approach to meeting the Rio29 vision. 

  • location: east side of U.S. 29, south of Fashion Square Mall
  • scale:  1½-story mattress store near U.S. 29 with unspecified plans for development on back portion
  • price points: mattresses range from about $1,000 to $5,000 dollars
  • next steps: Albemarle ARB meeting
Jeff Dreyfus, of Bushman Dreyfus Architects, presented an early sketch of 612 West Main on Wednesday to the Charlottesville Board of Architectural Review. The design is expected to change significantly. Credit: Credit: Bushman Dreyfus Architects Credit: Credit: Bushman Dreyfus Architects

City gets first look at design for new West Main housing

A new building planned for Charlottesville’s key university-downtown corridor will be subtler than its newly-constructed neighbor Six Hundred West Main, according to the architect of both.Jeff Dreyfus, of Bushman Dreyfus Architects, presented an early design of 612 West Main on Wednesday to the Charlottesville Board of Architectural Review. The goal of the session was to give the design team early feedback that they could incorporate before presenting the project to the BAR for a yes or no vote. Dreyfus said that BDA was working with project developer Jeffrey Levien, of Heirloom Development, to do something very different than Six Hundred. Some of the words guiding the design are “timeless,” “quiet,” “brick” and “subtle.” BAR members said that they liked these guiding principles and urged the architects to continue to improve the design so it does not look or feel like one large block building to those passing by. The building has already won approval from the City Council to increase the number of apartments or condos per floor. It can only be a maximum of four stories tall.

  • address: 612 W. Main St.
  • scale: 55 studio to three-bedroom apartments or condos with ground-floor retail
  • affordability requirement: yes
  • amenities: pocket park, balconies, underground parking
  • next steps: Charlottesville BAR meeting 
The University of Virginia Foundation obtained a conservation easement through Albemarle County Circuit Court on Jan. 10 for 1,195 acres of land near Monticello, preventing the development of the land. Credit: Credit: McCallum & Kudravetz, P.C. Credit: Credit: McCallum & Kudravetz, P.C.

Forever underdeveloped: UVa’s Morven property placed under conservation easement

The University of Virginia Foundation obtained a conservation easement through Albemarle County Circuit Court on Jan. 10 for 1,195 acres of land near Monticello, preventing the development of the land. A conservation easement is a legal agreement that permanently limits uses of land, in this case protecting the “scenic and water-quality values of property.” The property was given to the foundation in 2001 by the late John W. Kluge.The University of Virginia Foundation hosts agriculture and food systems education programs at Morven Farm. Farming would be allowed on the property under the easement.As for permitted development on the property, the easement comes with guidelines.  No more than 18 dwelling units may be built and they cannot exceed 10,500 square feet. Farm buildings may not be constructed without written approval from the county’s easement authority, and considerations will be the impact of the height, size and site of the proposed structures. Other details of the easement guidelines can be viewed here.

  • location: across James Monroe Parkway from Morven Drive
  • scale: 1,195 acres
  • new development: maximum of 18 residences
The existing Carlton Views apartment building provides 54 units for low-income families. Credit: Credit: Emily Hays, Charlottesville Tomorrow Credit: Credit: Emily Hays, Charlottesville Tomorrow

City supports additional funds to build future affordable housing

The new Charlottesville City Council wants to uphold the commitment of the previous council to set aside a total of $1.5 million for its flexible fund for affordable housing development.The council, complete with three new members, made the announcement on Monday at its meeting about what to do with $5.8 million in unexpected revenues and savings from last year. The Charlottesville Affordable Housing Fund has been the source of local funding for projects ranging from critical renovations for old, affordable houses to new buildings like Carlton Views, which was designed with the elderly and people with disabilities in mind. The CAHF was given lower levels of funding than councilors and housing activists wanted in last year’s budget deliberations. The councilors said at that time that they would complement the budgeted $800,000 with another $700,000 if there was a surplus in funds at the end of the year. Monday was the first discussion of staff recommendations about how to save and spend the surplus dollars, which included adding the promised dollars to the housing fund. The council largely agreed with staff but discussed several changes proposed by Mayor Nikuyah Walker, like whether to pull off $200,000 from the CAHF for emergency needs with big housing projects like the redevelopment of public housing.Walker also proposed that the city save less money for the future and spend more now on an emergency fund for low-income city residents and on raises for low-wage city employees.

  • line item: $700,000 to go into the Charlottesville Affordable Housing Fund
  • total: $20.6 million earmarked through the CAHF since 2007
  • total units: 1,671 units of housing built or preserved through the CAHF
  • next steps: City Council meeting on Feb. 3 
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Emily Hays

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.

Charlotte Rene Woods

I was Charlottesville Tomorrow’s government reporter from 2019 to 2022. Thanks for letting me be your resident nerd on how local and state governments serve us. Keep up with me @charlottewords on Twitter. If you haven’t yet, consider subscribing to Charlottesville Tomorrow’s FREE newsletter to get updates from the newsroom on the things you want to know.