Project planned in county
Community would sit near Forest Lakes
/ Daily Progress staff writer
Sep 23, 2002

Albemarle County developers plan to build a mixed-use community at the northeast corner of U.S. 29 and Proffit Road, filling out the Forest Lakes-Hollymead area north of Charlottesville.

North Pointe, to be situated on the 260-acre Towers Land Trust, is slated to feature 800 residences and 450,000 square feet of office and retail space.

It would sit across the street from the Forest Lakes subdivision and the proposed Hollymead Town Center, and a short distance east of the Charlottesville-Albemarle Airport.

According to a spokeswoman for the developers, Great Eastern Management, the pedestrian-friendly neighborhood would set aside land for a church, an assisted-living facility, a day care center and a village green within the town center.

Don Wagner, one of the developers behind North Pointe, said of the project: "It has a true Main Street concept."

The so-called Main Street concept is highly popular in Albemarle and other communities across the country intent on concentrating growth in designated zones and preserving rural areas.

In Albemarle, the Development-areas Initiative Steering Committee's three-volume report on growth codified much of this Main Street, or new urbanism, thinking with its 12-point "neighborhood model."

The neighborhood model has been incorporated into the county Comprehensive Plan, meaning that large developments such as North Pointe are expected to include features such as a mixture of uses, open spaces and interconnected, tree-lined streets.

Wagner added, "We think that it's entirely necessary for North Pointe to have some of the dreaded big boxes, because we think that's what will bring people there. But we want to assure everybody that we are not going to put Main Street on paper and build the big boxes and then never get around to building Main Street."

Unlike Albemarle Place, the proposed mixed-use development on the northwest corner of U.S. 29 and Hydraulic Road, North Pointe will seek not to compete with the Downtown Mall, but to add residential and commercial heft to a still-developing area, Wagner said.

"Given that Forest Lakes and Hollymead are just about full, given that the North Fork Research Park is going to have lots and lots of square feet, given that the [National] Ground Intelligence Center is a hop, skip and a jump north of us, given that the airport is right there, we feel that the time is right for North Pointe," he said.

Wagner said Great Eastern had been "working on" a possible project since the 1980s and that, in the last two years, North Pointe had begun to take shape, at least on paper.

Albemarle Supervisor Charles S. Martin, whose Rivanna District includes the Towers Land Trust site, generally praised North Pointe's design but added that residents on neighboring Pritchett Lane are concerned the project will disrupt their way of life.

"One of the things that the board promised to Pritchett back when this was zoned was that we would not allow access onto Pritchett," Martin said, adding that he intends to keep his promise to residents