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.