This week, 8/28

Charlottesville is an expensive place to live, and with a new crop of students settling in at UVA, we figured it was a good time to pull together some of our favorite deals around town. See our completely idiosyncratic list, from coffee to donuts, and add your own go-tos online.

Also this week, we take on new businesses (Waterbird Spirits) and old debates (dueling petitions to close the mall crossing at Fourth Street to vehicles, or keep it open.)

The Downtown Mall, designed by noted landscape architect Lawrence Halprin, opened in 1976. It’s one of the longest pedestrian malls in the United States, and one of the few from that era that survived into the present day. It’s in all of our interests to keep the mall thriving. Yet, though the Fourth Street crossing opened relatively recently, in 2006, the suggestion that it should be once more closed to traffic was met with such a vociferously negative response, from downtown business owners and others, that the original petition was withdrawn before it could even be brought to City Council for debate.

In other mall-related news, local filmmaker Lorenzo Dickerson premieres his documentary 3rd Street: Best Seats in the House on Thursday, August 27. The film reflects on the experience of going to the Paramount back when African American residents had to use a side entrance, and were relegated to the balcony. Judging from the previews, the doc is both an exercise in nostalgia (older folks recall date nights and special movies) and anti-nostalgia (a reminder that many of our most treasured public spaces were segregated only a generation ago).

Which is all to say that the Downtown Mall, like the city itself, is constantly evolving. Our work is to make sure it reflects the community we want to be. —Laura Longhine

Posted In:     Opinion,The Editor's Desk

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