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The current reconstruction of one of Jackson Burley Middle’s multi-use fields will result in a new athletic track for the school and improved drainage systems for the field, George Shifflett, Deputy Director of Building Services for Albemarle County, told C-VILLE.

Tracks and field: Jackson Burley Middle School’s new field will also host the Soccer Organization of Charlottesville-Albemarle upon completion.

The new five-lane, 250-meter asphalt track replaces a previous version made unusable and unsafe by drainage issues and wear and tear, says Maury Brown, county schools spokesperson. In order to correct standing water issues, the Burley field project also includes proper grading, drainage swales, and an underground drainage system. The project costs an estimated $186,000.

Once completed, the track will be used for physical education classes, by Murray High School students and community members alike, says Brown. Because county school fields can be rented out by organizations, the new surface should be safer for both students and community groups such as the Soccer Organization of Charlottesville-Albemarle. SOCA has used Burley Middle School for the group’s 10-and-under division in recent years because of its central location and accessibility, says Program Coordinator Matt Wilson. However, the field’s standing water issues have made playing on it difficult, if not impossible at times. Wilson says he is “kind of excited” by the potential created by the field’s improvements, but says that the short-term effects on SOCA are “not great.” With Burley’s field out of commission, other local fields are currently under pressure.

The project’s completion has been slated for August 22, two days before Albemarle County Public Schools are back in session for the 2011-2012 school year. However, the field will not be available for immediate use, “in order for the grass to be established,” says Shifflett. SOCA is not planning to use the field either this fall or spring but will be “disappointed” if the field is not ready for fall 2012.

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Just when you thought the stretch between Hydraulic and Barracks roads couldn’t get any busier, a popular shortcut between the two roads closed July 5 for construction. The Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) closed the southbound lane of Georgetown Road, which sees a daily average of roughly 16,000 cars, for a pedestrian-friendly makeover that will add a 5′-wide sidewalk and marked crossings to the 0.8-mile road. The current walking path is occasionally obstructed by tree roots, and its width does not meet Americans with Disabilities Act regulations.

While Georgetown may become more easily navigable for pedestrians, residents who use other forms of transportation will not benefit so greatly. VDOT spokesman Lou Hatter tells C-VILLE that bike lanes are not included in the construction plans.

Members of Bike Charlottesville, a local coalition of bicycle advocates and riders, expressed to C-VILLE their disappointment in the exclusion of bicycle lanes. Mac Lafferty noted that the lack of lanes on a “major connector” constitutes a “real hazard” for bicyclists. According to Lafferty, local cyclists should “keep vigil on new projects” to avoid a similar dearth of input on future construction.

While the southbound lane will reopen after August 25, construction teams will continue to work on traffic signals and grading through September 23. In the meantime, signs will direct southbound drivers towards Route 29 as a “detour.”

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Don’t get mad—get even. After West Main Street parking lot owners Gabe Silverman and Allan Cadgene lost a highly publicized dust-up to Maya restaurant co-owner Peter Castiglione, the pair agreed to pave the pothole-plagued lot. Silverman and Cadgene contracted Digs, Inc. to do the job, which began in March and should conclude by June 1. Silverman and Cadgene bought the lot for $707,838 in 1997. In 2009, C-VILLE named the lot Charlottesville’s priciest commercial property, when it bore a $13.5 million price tag. Recently, however, the asking price jumped to $15.5 million. The Charlottesville City Assessor’s Office values the property at roughly $4.3 million.  

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Recent construction on the Cavalier Marching Band’s new rehearsal hall (foreground) has caused a few headaches for Rugby Road drivers. Culbreth Road, a popular shortcut between University Avenue and Rugby Road, was closed to through traffic for five weeks between February and March, which led to a lot of U-turns in the nearby Zeta Psi fraternity parking lot and congestion from Beta Bridge to University Avenue. A spokesperson for UVA’s Facilities Management says construction on the Hunter Smith Band Building is more than 75 percent complete. It will serve as an indoor rehearsal site for the band, whose outdoor practices are often canceled in cases of inclement weather. Construction of the hall, funded by a $10.7 million gift from long-time University donor Hunter J. Smith, should conclude this summer, much to the relief of Rugby Road drivers. Along with her late football-loving husband Carl, Smith provided $1.5 million to finance the Cavalier Marching Band, and contributed $23 million in 1997 to the expansion of Scott Stadium. 

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We’ve noticed a little more commotion than usual on East Rio Road, where development of the Albemarle Housing Improvement Program’s (AHIP) Treesdale Park is accelerating along the notoriously congested two-lane road. Last November, Pinnacle Construction and Development Corp. broke ground on the affordable housing project, which AHIP estimates will serve nearly 900 working families over the next 50 years. The planned 88-unit multi-family community is located between Stonehenge Road and Towne Lane on East Rio—a few minutes by car from the proposed site of McIntire Road Extended, the city’s unconstructed portion of the Meadow Creek Parkway. Treesdale will offer a mix of two- and three-bedroom apartments for families earning up to 60 percent of the area median income. (In Albemarle County, 60 percent of the area median income equates to $36,000 for a family of four.) Treesdale Park, an EarthCraft and EnergyStar project, will carry reduced water and energy bills for future residents, as well as a diminished environmental impact. The project will also include a community center with classrooms, daycare programs, a computer lab and a fitness center. 

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Construction crews broke ground on eastbound sections of Hydraulic Road to provide access to the site of a planned Whole Foods supermarket. Nighttime construction is expected to continue on westbound portions of the road through December 21. The Whole Foods on 29N will abandon its current location to occupy the new 40,000 square foot location when construction there finishes, likely before the end of 2010, according to Charlottesville Tomorrow. Jim Tolbert, director of neighborhood development services, told C-VILLE that the Whole Foods is “almost at final site plan approval.” After that, it’s just a matter of when they’re ready to start the construction, he said.

The Whole Foods is being developed by Meadowbrook Creek, LLC, which will fund the first portion of the Hillsdale Drive Extension, designed to relieve traffic from the busy 29N corridor by connecting Rio Road to Hydraulic Road. The first portion will connect Hydraulic Road to the store. Amid budget cutbacks, VDOT funding for the rest of the $30.5 million extension has been delayed. “There is no money for the rest of the road,” Tolbert said.­

C-VILLE welcomes news tips from readers. Send them to news@c-ville.com.

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In 2006, the Charlottesville Parks and Recreation Department found the swimming facility at Meade Park, Onesty Pool, to be “beyond the point of cost-effective repair.” It would need to be fully replaced. Maybe having learned from previous park projects (read Meadowcreek Parkway, McIntire softball fields), the city has gone out of its way to make sure the community is as involved in the process as possible. Several community meetings were held over the past two years to draw up and finalize a plan for the park.

Construction broke ground in early September and should be done by July 4th, according to city spokesman Ric Barrick. The project has been contracted to the Richmond branch of Kimley-Horn and Associates, a national contracting firm. According to the city website, the Farmers in the Park market will be held as usual on Wednesday evenings, 3-7pm, kicking off on June 10. The market will be relocated to the rear of the park to accommodate construction.

C-VILLE welcomes news tips from readers. Send them to news@c-ville.com.

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Norcross Station, the railroad warehouse turned chic apartment complex, is prepping to add a third building. R.E. Lee & Sons have been clearing the strip of land between Garrett Street and the Norcross Station parking lot since the end of November. Rick Jones, of R.E. Lee, says they have begun pouring concrete, and estimates that the building will go vertical within three weeks. Jones hopes to have the project completed by May. The building will add 24 units of one- and two-bedroom apartments. The Norcross Station website announces that the units are available for lease now and should be available for occupancy this summer. Project developers are Bill Ditmar and Hunter Craig.

 

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Though the dirt has been red on the Whole Foods site for weeks, the Planning Commission at its July 23 meeting finally recommended approval of a 66,000-square-foot store on Hydraulic Road, which company reps say will be the grocery store chain’s greenest building this side of the Mississippi. No matter how “sustainable” the structure, planning commissioners wanted to see more trees and less parking on the site when the project was discussed June 10. To help win a recommendation, developers promised to plant trees on a nearby public housing site. At least one big question mark remains: As noted by The Daily Progress, developers have yet to secure right of way for Hillsdale Extended, a planned through road to provide a parallel to Route 29 and that would be the main Whole Foods entrance.
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Pantops has some fertile soil for development. Preparation work is underway for Richard Spurzem’s Gazebo Plaza shopping center, which historically has been a lightening rod for controversy. Spurzem took the county to circuit court to get the go ahead for the project. Now, Gazebo Plaza makes for a conflict between two surrounding neighborhoods: Spurzem has proffered to realign Hansens Mountain Road to provide a better entrance for Ashcroft residents, but that road would cut through the Glenorchy neighborhood, which doesn’t want the extra traffic.

“We’ve got about a year of site work left,” Spurzem says. “We’re still a couple of years away. But the opportunity to get through this road thing is not going to last very long. When I build a shopping center and the traffic is really bad and then five years from now [the county and the Virginia Department of Transportation] say we’ve got to put that connector road in, at that point they’re going to have to condemn my shopping center.”

C-VILLE welcomes news tips from readers. Send them to news@c-ville.com.

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Amid the great swatch of red dirt, five houses are springing up in Belvedere. The 675-unit development, which has billed itself as a green project, is beginning a five- to six-year build-out. Cass Kawecki of Stonehaus, Belvedere’s developer, says the initial five houses will be move-in ready by June. The village green will be opening in mid-summer, and a community owner’s association is germinating. “We’re at that point where it’s transitioning from an idea and concept to a real, active, lively place,” says Kawecki. Plans for the SOCA soccer complex will be in front of the Albemarle County Board of Supervisors on Wednesday. There is still work to be done, though. Stonehaus has sold 55 lots to two builders. Kawecki says over 20 percent of those lots are under contract or reserved.

C-VILLE welcomes news tips from readers. Send them to news@c-ville.com.

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A Charlottesville development dream team has broken ground on a five-story building that will cozy up to the Downtown ACAC on Monticello Avenue. The project, according to city neighborhood planner Brian Haluska, is a joint venture between Red Light Management (read: Coran Capshaw) and ACAC (Phil Wendel), two of the area’s financial heavy hitters. According to Lane Bonner of Grubb & Ellis, the building’s first floor will be retail space, with office space on the second through fifth floors. Construction crews were digging footers and elevator shafts at the beginning of May. The building, says Bonner, should be completed in February 2009. Just up the block sits the site for The Gleason condos, construction for which J.P. Williamson of Octagon Partners says is scheduled to begin June 1.
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That’s not a strip mine on the city’s horizon. Martha Jefferson Hospital is grading land and doing site prep work for the construction of an extension of Peter Jefferson Parkway. A quick note to State Farm employees and other Pantops office workers: If you hear any explosions, it is probably not the inaugural terrorist assault on Charlottesville. Rather, crews will be blasting once a day for the next six weeks to create material for the road bed. Construction on the proposed 1.2 million-square-foot hospital building isn’t expected to begin until next year. The hospital plans to occupy the new building by 2012.
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Construction began last week on the first of 340 townhomes on the 58-acre tract that will become the Pavilions at Pantops. Owned by North Pantops Townhouses LLC, the development has two builders, Ryan Homes and Southern Development Homes. Townhomes will range from 1,600 to 2,200 square feet. No telling when they will be done, though. But you can bet that the developers hope that when they are, the real estate market looks a whole lot different.
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The off-campus student housing boom continues at 1707 Jefferson Park Ave., where workers have prepared this formerly vacant lot for a massive retaining wall to protect a 10-unit, 28-bedroom apartment building. Developed by Robby Knoll and designed by Fred Wolf, the project required a special use permit for increased height, density and reduced setbacks. It hit a snag when it came before City Council in May 2007—most councilors thought it an attractive design, but Dave Norris didn’t like the density and Kevin Lynch wanted a farther setback from the street. In response, Knoll trimmed two bedrooms and pushed back the building several feet. It’s slated to be finished by August, so that it can house students coming back in the fall.
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Soil on Route 29N always seems to be in a state of upheaval, though not always with concrete plans in the works. When we reported last year on this 35-acre Albemarle County site, north of Airport Road, we were told the earth movements were simply to keep active a site plan for an 80,000-square-foot building, with only plans to grade and seed the land.

So does the return of the backhoes mean we’ll see some industrial complex rise on the terrain? Apparently not. "Hopefully one day there’ll be some sort of warehouse or other kind of facility there," says Blake Hurt, president of Capital Real Estate, but Rivanna Partners LLC, which has owned the property for 20 years now, is still just keeping the site plan active. Despite the "For Sale" sign, Hurt says the current plan is not to sell.

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Poplars will have to find a new glen. Construction recently began on the second phase of Poplar Glen, a development of townhomes in Albemarle County on the south side of Ivy Road, near the intersection of the Route 29/250 Bypass and Route 250 West. Owners of the property, Weather Hill Development, are building 28 townhomes on the 3.6-acre site, adjacent to the first phase of the development (built by Hauser Homes) and the University Heights apartments. The townhomes will start from the mid-$400,000s and will feature two to four bedrooms with two to 2.5 baths, depending on the floor model.

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Nestled at the corner of Solomon and Berkshire roads off Hydraulic Road in the county’s urban ring is the construction site that soon become the Solomon Road Condominiums. Thirty three bedroom townhomes should spring up by October on the 2.4 acre parcel, built by Southland Homes. Prices will start in the mid-$200,000 range. Southland purchased the site from Weather Hill Homes in April 2006 for $970,000.

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First there were trees, then there was…red dirt. Next there will be the Country Green Cottages: Sixteen single family detached houses on four acres located off Country Green Road near Old Lynchburg Road. The land is owned by Dale Ludwig of Palmyra, who also has significant holdings in the city. Ludwig purchased neighboring parcels for the development in 2002 and 2005. Construction on the houses, mostly priced in the $300,000 range, will begin in approximately two months as soon as the necessary streets have been completed—and as soon as a builder is contracted. Until then, more dirt.

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This ugly-looking hole in the ground will someday (a year from now) grow up to be Pantops Park. Not in fact a park at all, Pantops Park will be home to another Virginia National Bank branch, its operational headquarters (where they process the checks) and other offices. That building will cover 40,413 square feet. Two other office buildings will cover 22,550 square feet apiece. The five-acre Pantops property on Route 250 is being developed by Enterprise Properties, LLC at an estimated cost of $12.3 million, according to building permits.

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To make an omelet, you’ve got to break some eggs, and to make a new UVA building in the midst of Charlottesville, you’ve got to tear down something else. This junk and clutter represents the new beginnings of the South Lawn Project (www.ats.virginia.edu/southlawn).

At a cost of $105 million, the first phase of the project will see the extension of the Lawn over Jefferson Park Avenue, connecting to the 110,000-square-foot College of Arts and Sciences building that contains classrooms, offices, a café and a 250-seat lecture hall. Also on the site will be a monument to the family of Kitty Foster, a free black washerwoman who lived on the site during the 1800s—the first memorial to African Americans on Grounds. It’s scheduled to be complete by the fall of 2010.

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Never fear: This apparent blemish on Monticello’s (www.monticello.org) nearly flawless face is but a necessary step on the path toward improvement. Construction of the new 42,000-square-foot Thomas Jefferson Visitor Center and Smith History Center began January 19 with the demolition of Monticello’s former ticket office.

The new facility will house an improved ticket office, gift shops, exhibition space, a café and a renovated education center all under one roof. The visitor center is expected to be completed and functional by late 2008, with a dedication ceremony appropriately scheduled for April 13, 2009—Thomas Jefferson’s birthday. The project’s cost has been set at $53 million, $10 million of which will be endowment funds set aside for utility costs.

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The inexorable march to fill all empty city lots continues at the southern edge of Belmont. Dozers are grading in preparation for 29 residential units in the Carter’s View development—single-family detached housing with three-four bedrooms. Southern Development Homes, which bought the completed subdivision plan from Legend Development, expects it to be complete by the end of 2007. It’s not the only new development going into the unpretentious neighborhood: Just a street away, 29 townhouses and 31 single detached are nearing completion near Brookwood, also by Southern Development. They’re priced at $339,000 for the townhomes and $359,000 for the detached.

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Among the restaurants and shops of W. Main Street, one address sticks out like a sore thumb: 858-860 W. Main, a muddy lot next to the Hampton Inn. Although the trucks, steel beams and construction fencing make the lot look like the burgeoning site of some mixed-use condo and retail building, the space is currently being used only as a storage area for construction supplies. Fluvanna Holdings LLC owns the land, buying the 1.2 acres for $1.7 million in September from previous owner Waste Management. (Before that, it was a Pontiac dealership.) Who’s behind Fluvanna Holdings LLC? It would appear Coran Capshaw: The address matches that of Red Light Management. A call to Red Light was not returned. According to Brian Haluska, a Charlottesville neighborhood planner, some local residents have complained that the company has not done enough to fence off the area and conceal the site from public view. As of yet, there has been no mention of future development projects for the site—though considering the price and the owner, you can bet that there will be.—Stephanie Woods

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Kroger spokesman Carl York admits that the giant fence around the Barracks Road Shopping Center grocery is a bit unsightly, but necessary. “To close a store like that means big changes,” York says. “We’re essentially gutting it and remodeling it.” What will the remodeling entail? “An expanded Nature’s Market section, a deli with sushi and grab-and-go sandwiches, a tea shop kiosk, and an expanded wine selection and cellar,” says York. Contractor John S. Clark Company is putting previous Kroger experience in North Carolina to use, and architecture firm Baskerville and Son is monitoring the project’s design. And when do we get back our Harris Teeter alternative at Barracks? “If everything stays on schedule, we’re looking at the middle of December,” says York.

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The enormous hole in the ground at the corner of Jefferson Park Avenue and Valley Road is a sign of progress, according to Will Bynum, project manager at Kjellstrom & Lee. K&L, the contractor that brought you the tennis facility at the Boar’s Head Inn and an addition to the maternity-services wing at Martha Jefferson Hospital, is at work on a new apartment complex at 1600 Jefferson Park Ave. “Something like 34 units in three buildings were demolished at the site in August. We’re replacing it with one building, and 20 units,” says Bynum. “Each unit will have four bedrooms.” Bynum also said that the building should be ready for occupancy next fall.

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This expanse of 15 acres between Cherry and Cleveland avenues, called the Cherry Hill Planned Unit Development, will soon become 117 housing units. The project consists of 94 townhouses that will be ringed by 23 single-family homes, according to plans filed with City Neighborhood Development Services. Some dwellings should be on the market as early as next fall. At the latest City Council meeting, Jim Tolbert said that, while it might look a mud hole, Neighborhood Development Services visited Cherry Hill recently and found that developers are following all of the appropriate erosion and sediment control measures.

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