Cash registers will ring for the first time at Albemarle County’s newest retail development today when Pier One Imports begins business at its new location at the intersection of U.S. 29 and Hydraulic Road.
Stonefield, which long was known as Albemarle Place, has been in the planning stages for many years and ownership has changed hands several times. Supervisors unanimously approved a rezoning for the 65-acre facility in October 2003, but groundbreaking did not take place until last year.
“We developed through a recession,” said Brad Dumont, vice president of development at Edens, a South Carolina-based development firm. “I don’t think a lot of companies would take on the risk of a $150-million project after 2008.”
The mixed-use development is expected to open slowly. The Regal Stadium 14 movie theater is scheduled to hold its grand opening Nov. 9. Trader Joe’s grocery store is set to open Nov. 14. Williams-Sonoma and Pottery Barn plan to open in the spring.
“We appreciate the vision and professionalism of Edens in bringing the project to reality,” county spokeswoman Lee Catlin said in an email.
Stonefield’s opening creates vacancies in other area shopping centers. Pier One left The Gardens near Albemarle Square, and Blue Ridge Mountain Sports will move from the Barracks Road Shopping Center into a 15,000 square-foot space that will serve as its flagship store.
Dumont cited confidentiality agreements in declining to name several other potential Stonefield retailers, including a craft brewery, a locally based home goods store and national outdoor apparel and cosmetics stores.
“They don’t want to open right in the middle of the winter so we kind of have to get through that season before we make some more announcements for the spring,” Dumont said.
Edens has partnered with San Francisco-based MacFarlane Partners to develop the 137-room Hyatt Place and had partnered with Houston-based Johnson Development to build 250 apartment units. The first tenants are expected to move in before the end of the month. Edens is negotiating with companies to build a block of four-story townhomes.
Many of the stores and restaurants in the first phase of development will face Bond Street, which Dumont said will be the heart of Stonefield.
“Food is very important to Edens,” Dumont said. “We feel like that’s what really creates the place. Where we place those restaurants is important because they pull people up and down the streets. We’ve been very strategic in placing our restaurants up and down Bond Street.”
Custom benches and other accoutrements that Edens officials refer to as the “jewelry of the center” will be set along the street.
“The jewelry becomes things like green-walls and the furniture and the light fixtures,” said Edens spokesman Ryan Panitz. “That’s really important for us as it helps us create a place.”
When Stonefield first opens, it will be missing one building originally planned.
“We decided to hold off on building this building and made it into a one-acre park,” Dumont said. “There’s one tenant we’re specifically waiting for before we build.”
Many of the buildings are unadorned but Dumont said that would change as each new store is equipped.
“On the front end, you’re going to see it looks a little blank, but it will allow for the retailers to have their own identity,” Dumont said.
Dumont said there will be room if the intersection of U.S. 29 and Hydraulic Road is ever converted into a grade-separated interchange.
“If they wanted to go forward with those plans, we’ve planned for it, but right now we’re just waiting to see what happens,” Dumont said.
Dumont estimated that about 1,700 people have been employed during construction and the project will spawn 700 to 800 permanent jobs. He also estimated that Stonefield would generate $85 million in tax revenue for Albemarle over the next 10 years.