Major retail headed to Fifth Street

Major retail headed to Fifth Street

Last week, urban planner Frank Cox said that soon he will introduce plans for a major shopping center to be built between Fifth Street and Avon Street Extended, just north of Interstate 64.
Cox would not say who the major investors are in the project, but in 2003 Cox appeared before the Albemarle County Planning Commission to discuss the project on behalf of (Dave Matthews Band manager and über-developer) Coran Capshaw. Around that time, Capshaw was angling to buy several different parcels on the 89-acre site, which is currently zoned for industrial use. About a year and a half ago, the County granted Cox’s request to change the land’s designation to Commercial from Industrial in the County’s Comprehensive Plan. In two or three weeks, says Cox, he’ll ask the County for an amendment that will officially change the land’s zoning to accommodate a major retail development.
Over the past three years, Cox says the mystery developers have performed market research and conducted interviews with shoppers at big-box retailers on Route 29N. “There’s a huge percentage of folks who now visit the 29 corridor who have more convenient access to this site,” says Cox. Retail on Fifth Street, says Cox, “is something the whole County needs.”
Cox says the site will host “several large anchor tenants,” but “not a large mix of uses.” This would be in contrast to recently approved projects like Albemarle Place at the corner of Hydraulic Road and 29N, which include significant amounts of housing along with retail and services.
A major feature of the project will be a developer-funded public road that will link Fifth Street and Avon Street Extended, a connection that the County is eager to see—especially now that the massive Biscuit Run development has County drivers fretting about increased traffic in the area.

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