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Central Virginia offers plenty of shopping options
August 21, 2003

Shopping choices for Central Virginia residents are poised to grow by leaps and bounds if several proposed major shopping centers are approved. Developers often have said that area shoppers must go as far as Richmond, Tysons Corner or Washington for upscale fashions.

U.S. 29 Corridor
In Albemarle County but just across the street from Charlottesville, officials have inched closer to a decision on the proposed construction of a wide-ranging development called Albemarle Place, at the northwest corner of U.S. 29 and Hydraulic Road.

The development would feature more than 1.7 million square feet of commercial and residential spaces, including a 16-screen cinema, a hotel, 300 housing units and high-end retail stores such as J. Crew, Williams-Sonoma, Pottery Barn and Ann Taylor.

A few miles north on U.S. 29, a 180-acre development across from Hollymead Gardens Cemetery will feature trendy mass merchandiser Target. Plans for the Hollymead Town Center also include a Giant grocery store, apartments and townhomes, offices and small retail shops.

Just north of the town center, developers also are looking to create a project called North Pointe, which would sit at the corner of U.S. 29 and Proffit Road. It would feature several large retail stores, a cinema and a 250-room hotel.

The new town centers would add to already bustling commercial activity on a section of U.S. 29 stretching roughly from the Barracks Road Shopping Center on Emmet Street in Charlottesville to the South Fork Rivanna River in Albemarle, near Wal-Mart.

Barracks Road Shopping Center has 85 stores, including those in its north wing.

The shopping center includes popular clothing retailers such as Old Navy and Banana Republic. It also has two grocery stores, 10 restaurants, a Ben & Jerry's ice cream shop and a liquor store.

Among the center's newest stores are Bubbles-Aveda Lifestyle Salon, a new computer game retailer, GameStop Inc., and a Quizno's Sub sandwich shop.

Just north of Barracks Road, at the corner of Emmet Street and Angus Road, consumer electronics retailer Best Buy plans to open a store within a year on a site that once housed a motel and restaurant.

Seminole Square shopping center, located off U.S. 29 just north of Hydraulic Road, has a Giant grocery store, a Family Christian Stores and a Marshalls clothing store, among other merchants.

Seminole Square also is home to Chi-Chi's Mexican Restaurante, the Great Wall Restaurant, specializing in Chinese cooking, and Sam Maverick ? The Restaurant, a steak house.

Farther up U.S. 29 is Albemarle Square, which includes a liquor store, a dry cleaners and several restaurants, including Georgetown Farms Market. The center also is home to Circuit City and Plan 9 Music.

Just north and across U.S. 29 is Rio Hill Shopping Center. It includes the Brick Oven restaurant, a Kroger grocery store and a Play It Again Sports. Blockbuster Video and T.J. Maxx also are there.

Dick's Sporting Goods, a major retailer of name-brand sporting equipment and clothing, plans to open shop this fall in the former Phar-Mor location in the center.

Fashion Square mall
The area's major enclosed mall, Charlottesville Fashion Square, at U.S. 29 and Rio Hill Road, underwent renovations in 2002 incorporating Jeffersonian architecture.

The renovations sparked interest from several new stores and inspired current stores to remodel.

Costing $8.6 million, the renovations included the replacement of all main entrance features, a new porcelain floor, a new ceiling with redesigned lighting, new skylights, new mall furniture and updated planters and landscaping. The mall is home to Belk, JC Penney and Sears. Among its newest stores are Motherhood Maternity, Steak Escape and Mastercuts, a hair salon.

American Eagle Outfitters is expanding and relocating within the mall and will reopen this fall. Radio Shack has opened a new store.

Limited Too, a clothing retailer targeting teen shoppers, plans to open a store at the mall this year.

Pantops Mountain
Across town, on U.S. 250 just east of Charlottesville, is the Pantops Shopping Center. This center, home and neighbor to an array of fast-food restaurants, houses an Eckerd drug store, a dollar store, two hair salons, a Food Lion, a Roses and a RadioShack, among other retailers.

Farther east on Pantops Mountain is a new shopping complex anchored by a Giant Foods store, which includes a Starbucks Coffee shop, a Blockbuster video store, F-Stop Photo, Hair Cuttery and Lady's Workout Express. Developers plan to open a restaurant and a sandwich shop at the complex.

Downtown Charlottesville
The Downtown Mall in Charlottesville is home to more than 100 shops and restaurants, including antique shops, clothing stores, art galleries, beauty salons, and bookstores. Several restaurants offer outdoor dining in season, on hundreds of tables set up along the tree-lined mall.

The area is home to the Charlottesville Ice Park, the Virginia Discovery Museum and the historic Paramount Theater, which officials plan to re-open in 2004.

The area along Water Street, just south of the Downtown Mall, in the past five years has seen the opening of a cluster of trendy and traditional home-decor shops.

Outdoor merchants often convene near the fountain on the Downtown Mall, selling everything from jewelry to incense to African art.

The mall also serves as the area's premier site of impromptu street performances, ranging from live music and dancing to clown acts.

Outer county shopping
Several new shopping centers are under construction or completed in Fluvanna, Greene and Madison counties.

In Fluvanna, Piedmont Village, a shopping center on Route 600, is under way. Developers expect to have the first phase completed by October. It will house two restaurants, a coffee shop, video store, photo shop and a mortgage company. The second phase will include a day-care center, automotive shop and car wash.

Jefferson Center, another Fluvanna retail center, is under construction near Route 53 and Turkey Sag Trail. The 105,000-square-foot center will include a video store, restaurant, jewelry store, photography studio, gift shop and real estate brokerage office.

Later this fall, shopping center developers plan to open a dry cleaner, liquor store, specialty food retailer, coffeeshop and Mexican restaurant.

In Greene County, The Virginia Co., a retailer of Virginia-made products, recently opened a distribution center and retail store.

In Madison County, North Carolina-based Chase Development Co. opened a new Food Lion at Madison Plaza, across from the high school on U.S. 29. The center also will house a Family Dollar store, a video store and several restaurants.