The Coal Tower cometh


One of the city’s biggest development projects is set to break ground after years of delay.

The Coal Tower project, located at the end of Water Street and owned by Dave Matthews Band manager Coran Capshaw, has been renamed “City Walk.” It’s a fitting moniker: Plans call for the eastward extension of Water Street and a multi-use trail for bikers and pedestrians that will connect the end of the road to the entrance of the Woolen Mills neighborhood.

The original plans for City Walk called for a residential development as big as the real estate market circa 2006. The developer, Atlanta-based Metzger & Co., intended to build townhouses along Carlton Avenue and Water Street Extended. Those buildings comprised a total 315 residential units, 250,000 square feet of commercial space, and mixed-use buildings around the property, including a nine-story tower.

More after the photo.

The Coal Tower is a Historically Designated Property.

“That plan was scrapped when the downturn hit,” said City Planner Brian Haluska. “There are no 9-story buildings involved anymore. It’s now a four-story central building that’s going to be an apartment complex with an attached garage.”

With the addition of three smaller, three-story apartment buildings along Carlton Avenue, the 302 total residential units will be a combination of one-bedroom and two-bedroom suites.

After a long pause, City Walk is closing in on its start date. According to city spokesman Ric Barrick, developers hope to begin construction on the first of the year. Construction was postponed until the developer could secure financing from the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), said Barrick. Calls to the developer were not returned by this publication deadline.

“All of the buildings are down at the east end of the property,” said Haluska. “They are leaving a fair amount of open space between those buildings and the intersections of Water and 10th streets.”

The multi-use trail, which is still in the plans, is intended as a transportation alternative for city residents who would rather walk or bike than drive. The trail, which will be developed with the project, will run along the south side of Water Street from that road’s eastern extension along the train tracks to Meade Avenue.

Originally, the city was awarded a grant to build the trail, but, according to Chris Gensic, city park and trail planner, Metzger & Co. decided to take on the project and hand it over to the city, free of charge. “We decided to take that grant money and attempt to complete a trail all the way to Meade Park,” said Gensic.

In keeping with the recent efforts to make Charlottesville more bike friendly, the city will also build a trail from the corner of Water and 10th streets to the Belmont Bridge back to the Downtown Mall near the Transit Center. The timeline of that trail’s construction, however, is still unknown, and depends on the bridge’s renovation, according to Gensic.