By Julia Glendening

Charlottesville Tomorrow

Thursday, June 11, 2009

The

Charlottesville Planning Commission

has approved changes to
the preliminary site plan for a new Whole Foods store that was

originally approved on July 22, 2008

. The grocery store, which has now
been reduced in size, will be built at the intersection of Hydraulic
Road and the future Hillsdale Drive Extended. The Commission
unanimously approved the new site plan, however, with conditions that
will need to be reviewed by the applicant, S.J. Collins Enterprises,
LLC.


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On June 9, 2009, the project amendments were presented by

Mary Joy Scala

,
the City’s Preservation and Design Planner so the Commission could
review compliance with City entrance corridor guidelines. Initially,
the plan included a 66,600 square foot building with a three-level
parking garage. The store will now be 40,000 square feet and will have
a sizeable rear surface parking lot with the store fronting on
Hydraulic Road instead of the new portion of Hillsdale Drive facing
Gold’s Gym. Other updates included retaining walls, railings, a
non-public store front on the east end, and two types of brick and a
tan stone material that will be used.

Questions from the Commission were answered by

Dan Tucker

, the
Director of Development and Construction from S.J. Collins Enterprises,
LLC and the Project Manager for the new Whole Foods. He also presented
the plans and clarified the placement of trees, benches, and pedestrian
pathways.

Most of the Commissioners said they felt the site plan still needed to
be reviewed further to eliminate logistical problems with future
pedestrian and vehicular traffic. They will get that chance when the
site plan returns before them at a later date, but this date has not yet been scheduled according to Commissioner

Missy Creasy

.

“[The site plan] may be adequate, but I definitely see problems there that we can talk to engineering about,” Commissioner

Mike Farruggio

said.





Director of Development Dan Tucker presents the plans to the Planning Commission

The design included two entrances and exits for regular traffic, as well as an emergency vehicle entrance. Commissioner

Cheri Lewis

was concerned about the Hillsdale Drive exit that leads to a dead end
at the present time. There are plans to connect Hillsdale Drive from
Whole Foods to the road’s existing location near the Senior Center and
the Branchlands neighborhood sometime after 2014.

“[Hillsdale Drive] is a road that may never be built, [that] is what we
are told right now,” said Lewis. It’s not just a few years behind.
There is no VDOT funding for it at all.” Recently,

the owners of the
Regal 4 cinema announced plans to expand their theater

, despite it
being in the path of the Hillsdale Drive extension.


Matt Fitch

of Bohler Engineering responded that signage would be
enough to direct traffic. Lewis said she did not think it was feasible
to assume people would use both entrances and exits.

Commissioner

Michael Osteen

said he believed three pedestrian
paths to the store was an excess and the interior path in the front of
the store was not needed. He commented on his approval of the path
within the parking lot, but also said he noticed that paths did not
connect and there might be problems where they overlapped with major
traffic entrances.

Tucker said that Whole Foods had expressed the need for an interior
path to display seasonal merchandise and begin the shopping experience
before a customer even enters the store.

Commissioner

Bill Emory

said he would like to see a more direct
pedestrian pathway from the neighboring residential areas. He also
expressed his appreciation that the design was conscious of the
Meadowcreek stream rehabilitation effort.

The Commission added a number of conditions to their approval including:

Although the Commissioners had many comments about the design, they
said the new plan was more compatible with the entrance corridor design
goals. Specifically with the addition of a rear parking lot, an
increased number of trees, and a design that might encourage more
pedestrian traffic.

“This will be a very good project and an asset to our community,” Commissioner

Genevieve Keller

said.

TIMELINE FOR PODCAST

01:00 Farruggio introduces topic

01:35 Scala presents site plan changes

09:55 Osteen begins questions

13:55 Tucker presents information about plans and answers questions

20:50 Lewis asks a question about design

26:00 Keller asks a question about materials

26:55 Nueman asks a question about storm system

28:55 Farruggio begins discussion about entrances and exits

1:09:00 Conditions are discussed

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