Above Water

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Waterhouse—the six-story, $20 million structure located between Water and South streets—is almost ready to welcome its anchor tenant, WorldStrides. Almost.

Architecht Bill Atwood, pictured at the Waterhouse site last year, said it’s still "a tough time to build anything."

Of course, being neither horseshoe nor hand grenade, architect Bill Atwood’s long-debated mixed-use project won’t reap any reward for being “almost” finished. Rather, to earn a five-year, 50 percent property tax rebate from the City of Charlottesville, Waterhouse needs to be completed by March 2012. That deadline jumped forward to this November when WorldStrides, a student travel company based in Albemarle County, inked its lease.

In fact, WorldStrides’ current lease, for a suite on Peter Jefferson Parkway, was due to expire at the end of October, according to Pavilion Properties agent Lisa Jones. However, client and landlord negotiated an extension.

“We agreed to an extra month, so they have until the end of November,” said Jones. WorldStrides currently occupies a 25,000 square foot space at Peter Jefferson, but a total 50,000 square feet is available come November, when suites adjacent to WorldStrides open up.

Atwood concedes that the project might be “a little behind” its construction time frame, but says Waterhouse will be ready for WorldStrides to start its lease on time. He adds that, due to heavy rainfall during Hurricane Irene’s march up the East Coast, a few cranes destined for Charlottesville wound up partially submerged by waters from the Susquehanna River.

“They will not move in until the entire building is closed in,” said Atwood last week. “It needs to be waterproofed right now.”

Atwood says the building is being constructed “like a layer cake,” and that the foundational floors—a parking garage and roughly 45,000 square feet of office space—are finished, or close to it.

“It will look like a complete building, and we’ll be doing residential work as we sell those units and move on,” said Atwood. “Access to the two buildings [residential and business] is separate.”

In a previous C-VILLE feature, Atwood remarked that the city’s tax-increment financing (TIF) funds would help the developer purchase Downtown parking spaces. Atwood now says WorldStrides employees have several spaces reserved in the Downtown Parking Garage. Those spaces will likely be made available when Waterhouse receives its certificate of occupancy, said Atwood.

So, WorldStrides may inhabit an almost finished new home, and Waterhouse may yet nab its TIF funds, so long as nothing else throws so much as a single crane off-track. Asked whether WorldStrides could negotiate another extension to its contract, Jones said, “They haven’t brought it up,” and added that the company planned to move around Thanksgiving.

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