Published November 13, 2003, in issue #0245 of The
BY LISA PROVENCE
Three shopping centers in the works will change the
way Charlottesville shops-- not in time for this holiday
season, but certainly by 2005.
When The Hook reported on Albemarle Place,
Hollymead Town Center, and North Pointe in our July 10
cover story, none had gotten the critical rezoning
approval from the Board of Supervisors that would allow
them to break ground.
Four months later, here's what's happening:
Hollymead Town Center
The bulldozers are hard at it up U.S. 29 just
south of Airport Road. "We're going," says United Land's
Wendell Wood. "It's going."
The BOS approved Wood's section of Hollymead Town
Center-- the part that will house the long-awaited
Target-- on July 16. Two other developers, the Kessler
Group and Virginia Land Company, will be building
residential units and smaller retail and offices as part
of the same project.
And after nearly four years, Wood has the land
rezoned and a site plan approved. The only thing he says
he needs is a highway permit for the nearly $11 million
in roadwork he had to proffer to get the county's okay
to start building. That's for building extra lanes on
U.S. 29-- "about $6 million just on 29," he says-- and a
parallel road that will connect the center to Airport
And the target date for Target? Spring of 2005, Wood
The favorite of "neighborhood model" proponents,
Albemarle Place had its rezoning approved by the BOS
Next hurdle for the center that encircles Sperry
Marine at the intersection of Hydraulic and U.S. 29:
site plan approval.
Mike Fenner, a planner with Frank Cox Associates,
which is managing the project for owners Albeville
Station LP, estimates that site plan and grading plan
approval could take several months. "I don't anticipate
any major problems, but the county will take a hard look
County planner Michael Barnes says the process could
take as much as six months-- and that the county has not
received a site plan for Albemarle Place.
Fenner estimates a best-case scenario of breaking
ground in the spring. The developers have long wanted to
open for the 2005 holiday shopping season, but Fenner
acknowledges Albemarle Place could be looking at spring
2006 for its first phase.
As for which swanky retailers are signing up for a
space in Albemarle Place, Fenner remains mum. "Once you
get the formal rezoning, you have a lot of movement in
the leasing," he says. "I know there have been a lot of
phone calls and interest."
At the October 28 Planning Commission meeting,
developer Chuck Rotgin was gaveled by chairman William
Rieley for being out of order. "I was out of order,"
says a contrite Rotgin, who attributes his speaking when
speaking wasn't allowed to a misunderstanding in
Rotgin's Great Eastern Management is behind North
Pointe, a 269-acre mixed-use project off U.S. 29 and
Proffit Road. Developers went to the Board of
Supervisors in May for rezoning approval, and were
kicked back to the Planning Commission. In October, the
Planning Commission twice deferred a vote on the
Part of the problem, says Rotgin, is "a feeling among
staff and some members of the Planning Commission that
we do not represent the pure 'neighborhood model' as
they envision it."
Great Eastern believes consumers want big box stores,
they don't want to park in back, à la relegated
parking, when they go to the grocery store, and that the
neighborhood model should be one-- but not the only--
form of commercial development in Albemarle County.
And unlike Albemarle Place and Hollymead Town Center,
says Rotgin, North Pointe has a major residential
component that includes single-family dwellings in an
area where subdivisions like Forest Lakes are almost
Critics say North Pointe will contribute to traffic
and, coming on top of Hollymead Town Center and
Albemarle Place, will create an excess of retail space.
One problem faced by the developers, says Great
Eastern spokesperson Pam Fitzgerald, is the county's
desire for connected roads and the "terrain factor" that
isn't conducive for connectivity.
"They've increased the number of units per acre and
the percentage of affordable housing units," says
Fitzgerald. "The developer has done everything to meet
the spirit and letter of what the Planning Commission
North Pointe goes back to the Planning Commission
November 18, and to the Board of Supervisors for a
public hearing December 10.
"I think all parties are frustrated by the lengthy
and onerous process," says Fitzgerald. "In the end,
we'll come up with a model that works" for the county.