Next fall, residents of a new housing complex on West Main Street might have 99 problems, but their apartment won’t be one of them—or at least, that’s the verbiage that was handed out on keychains at Six Hundred West Main’s metaphorical groundbreaking ceremony last week.
Despite pouring rain, about 40 people and a bulldog named Butch came out to the future site of the swanky apartment complex set to open behind the Blue Moon Diner in 2019.
More reminiscent of a concert than a press conference, the event featured black graphic tees that nodded to the desire for backstage passes and edgy, apartment-branded posters that were up for grabs at a merch table about 20 feet in front of the stage, where developer Jeff Levien, designer Ivy Naté and architect Jeff Dreyfus shared some words about their project.
“We’re sort of reclaiming West Main Street for the rest of the city,” said Dreyfus.
The group made it clear that the apartments aren’t for UVA students, and Naté said one reason Charlottesville needs such a space, which will have its own art gallery, is because it lacks “curated design” for its non-student population.
Rental costs aren’t established yet, per Levien, who also declined to comment on how much the project cost. Levien and Naté, who are married and moved to Charlottesville from New York City about five years ago, have tag-teamed on a number of developments, but this will be their first in the city.
This one will feature modern design elements such as perforated metals and glass, according to the architect, a principal of local firm Bushman Dreyfus Architects, who couldn’t help but mention Thomas Jefferson: “That’s what he would be using today,” Dreyfus said.
A rock ’n’ roll theme has dominated the marketing for West Main’s newest digs. “Is it a little rock ’n’ roll?” asks Naté. “Definitely. But it’s where rock ’n’ roll goes to kick back.”
The quote appears in a folder that was handed to reporters, which features a photo of Naté and Levien at the Blue Moon bar. Levien, sitting on a barstool and pouring an inordinate amount of either sugar or cream into a cup of coffee, stares longingly at his wife, who’s positioned on the countertop sucking back a shot of Jack Daniel’s while wearing aviator sunglasses, studded jeans and platform boots.
Levien credits Naté with the theme.
“She’s much cooler than I am,” he says, a gray beanie on his head that he claims his wife made him wear. As Butch, the pair’s dog, sniffs his leg, the developer says hints of the rock ’n’ roll lifestyle will be carried into the apartment design, with dark bathrooms, dark kitchens, chandeliers and the art gallery.
For what Levien called the “proverbial shovel in the ground,” folks who’ve had a hand in bringing Six Hundred West Main to life put on black hard hats but ditched the golden shovels often used during such a ceremony. Instead, with a giant stencil and a few aerosol cans of paint, they permanently sprayed the apartment’s logo onto the pavement, as “Kansas City” by The New Basement Tapes played over a loudspeaker.
For perhaps the first time in Charlottesville’s history, an apartment complex comes with its own Spotify playlist. Give it a listen at spoti.fi/2poxUPO.
Between now and the grand opening, the Six Hundred West Main team will do 600 hours of community service.
“I think being of service is a true example of good teamwork,” says Levien. “I could go on and on, but this isn’t an Oscars speech.”
Multiple other recently developed or under-construction apartments and hotels dot West Main.
Since the 2010 census, Charlottesville has grown 13 percent, more than any other Virginia city, according to Chris Engel, the city’s director of economic development. And the city has set aside $31 million for a West Main Street facelift.
“People are coming to Charlottesville like they’re going to other big cities,” says Engel says. “The point of cities is multiplicity of choice.”
Looking for a place to live? Six Hundred West Main offers:
- 65,000 square feet of residential space
- 53 rental residences
- 6 floors
- Studios, one- and two-bedroom units
- Private terraces
- 8-foot windows
- High ceilings
- Meditative courtyard
- Outdoor fireplace
- A private art gallery with resident lounge
- Parking and bike storage
- 4,700 square feet of retail