Just another development
North Pointe should fit right in on Route 29N
August 22, 2006
By by Meg McEvoy
The future site for
North Pointe, a mixed-use development planned for Route 29N, just north
of Profitt Road, seems less like a “places we’ll lose” and more like a
place we’ve already lost. The now wooded land would be yet another link
in a chain of developments—Forest Lakes South, Hollymead, Forest
Lakes—that run along the congested highway. The Board of Supervisors
approved a revised North Pointe development August 2. Though developers
are still in site-planning stages for the 269-acre housing and
commercial development, other nearby projects carved out the area’s
character long ago. Nevertheless, I went last week in search of traces
of Route 29’s past.
One access point to the future North Pointe site is Leake Lane,
which, with only a garden center, self-storage facility and lumber yard,
is not a lively spot. Lengths of barbed-wire top aging fences. There is
a lot of forest back there, but it’s not exactly a nature preserve.
The noise from Route 29, bright with sunlight glinting off dozens and
dozens of cars, is audible. Surrounding communities with new houses and
cul-de-sacs infringe on all sides. If North Pointe is the new kid on the
block, it will fit right in. Commercial space (675,000 square feet) to
the south will give way to almost 900 residences that will stretch all
the way to the Rivanna River.
The people at the 14-year-old Southern States Cooperative nursery
know it’s coming. Their manager, Carol Church, has been active at North
Pointe meetings, but she’s away and can’t comment. I should check at 84
Lumber, they tell me, when I go looking for a reaction. “They’ve got an
opinion on everything.”
But apparently, they don’t. The store manager tells me he’s aware of
the impending development, but they have no comment, either. 84 Lumber’s
corporate office bounces me back and forth to several different
spokespeople. No one knows about the Charlottesville location—the guy
who does is on vacation.
Whatever’s happening at the North Pointe site has happened to other
29N spots already. The nearby residents live in North Pointe-like
houses, shop at North Pointe-like stores. The main drag reminds me of
the main commercial lanes of Williamsburg, Fredericksburg, Northern
Virginia, anywhere. At 10am on a workday, cars line up 12 or 15 deep to
get through intersections.
Though planners and neighbors worry that North Pointe will bring
more people, more cars, more strain on infrastructure, I can’t help but
wonder—will it even matter? Joining the multitudes, I turn my car onto
Route 29’s four lanes and battle my way back towards the city.