Terry Vassalos, owner of the Anderson Brothers Building on the Corner, which is now occupied by Satellite Ballroom and Plan 9 Music, would neither confirm nor deny rumors that a CVS pharmacy may take over the space. “It’s nothing definite. It’s not done,” he says. “It’s rumors. There are not any papers signed. It can be true, but there’s not anything yet.” He did, however, confirm that CVS is interested in the location.
“They look at the space, yes,” says Vassalos. “I cannot go into the details. There are a lot of people involved, the people that are there, the new people, and I cannot say anything about the details of the contracts.”
Last week, Jim Bland, owner of the Richmond-based Plan 9 chain, which leases the record store and Satellite Ballroom spaces from Vassalos, echoed that sentiment, acknowledging that talks have been taking place but that no definitive decisions have been made.
Vassalos is not exaggerating when he says there are a lot of people involved. While Plan 9 leases the entire property, Satellite Ballroom, Higher Grounds Coffee (inside of Plan 9) and Just Curry (which occupies the rear end of Satellite) would all be in danger of losing their current locations if CVS leased the space. Those businesses all operate under Plan 9’s main lease of the property, which sources say runs out at the end of May.
Despite chatter on some local blogs, employees at some of the potentially affected businesses say that they had not received word of any decision. “I’ve heard the rumors but nothing official,” says Matt Binder, manager of Plan 9’s Corner location, when asked about the store’s potential closing. Danny Shea, who books bands at Satellite Ballroom, says he doesn’t know that much about what’s going on. “I’ve feel like been left in the dark,” he says.
Calls to the regional CVS real estate manager were not returned immediately. Robert Hargett of the Rebkee Company, which develops CVS pharmacies in Virginia and was behind the proposed CVS at the corner of W. Main Street and McIntire Road, says this isn’t his project. “We do them across the state, but I haven’t heard anything about this,” says Hargett, whose W. Main project was shot down by the Board of Architectural Review in 2006. “I’m sort of steering clear of Charlottesville these days.” No plans for the property have come before city planners.
Plan 9 moved into the Anderson Brothers Building in the spring of 2002 from its previous Corner location at 1325 W. Main St., which now houses Cavalier Tan. Higher Grounds, which first set up shop (or, cart, as it was at the time) near Baja Bean in late 1993, moved in to share the space with Plan 9 in 2003. In 2004, Michael’s Bistro owner Chuck Adcock opened Satellite Ballroom in the adjacent part of the property, which Plan 9 had been using for overflow retail space and some entertainment events, both public and private. Just Curry came on board in 2006.
Satellite Ballroom owner Chuck Adcock standing outside the venue, which could find itself replaced by a CVS.
While Plan 9 would be able to fall back on its Albemarle Square location for local business, the end of Satellite Ballroom would leave a significant hole in the landscape of Charlottesville music venues, at least until Coran Capshaw’s Red Light Management completes renovations on the Jefferson Theater, a Downtown Mall property purchased in 2006. Some smaller bands that currently perform at Satellite could find alternatives in venues like Outback Lodge and Gravity Lounge, but upcoming acts such as They Might Be Giants, Colin Meloy and Nick Lowe would not likely be bringing their tunes to town if it weren’t for the Ballroom.
Jon Bray, a member of local rock band Truman Sparks that has opened numerous times for acts at Satellite, says that the Jefferson, when it opens, will likely be able to fill that void, but points out that the Ballroom’s location is important. “The major advantage of Satellite is that it is very accessible to students.”
Jake Hosen, a local concertgoer and DJ at WTJU, UVA’s college radio station, is bothered by the rumor of a pharmacy moving in to replace the current businesses.
“It seems to me like a sneaky attempt to bring a CVS onto the Corner,” he says. “I feel like there are a few powerful individuals here in Charlottesville trying to decide what culture we can and can’t have, and things that don’t fit the image are quickly eliminated.”
While Hosen wouldn’t be too surprised to see Plan 9 shut its doors, he would be upset to see Satellite go. “With places like Trax, Atomic Burrito and Starr Hill having closed, it’s like we’re running out of places here, and it’s not for lack of demand.” Hosen cites discussion of the possible deal on WTJU’s e-mail listserv as evidence that people care a lot about the future of the Satellite and Plan 9, with even former Charlottesville residents expressing their dismay at the rumors. “It seems like it’s hit a chord with a lot of folks,” he says.
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