West Grounds: More student apartments in Midtown

Some bemoan the canyon effect The Standard will have opposite The Flats at West Main. Others believe an influx of students is just the thing to liven up the corridor.

Mitchell/Matthews Some bemoan the canyon effect The Standard will have opposite The Flats at West Main. Others believe an influx of students is just the thing to liven up the corridor. Mitchell/Matthews

Another unremarkably named structure will soon be joining The Flats and The Uncommon student housing on West Main: The Standard.

Located across the street from The Flats on the site of the soon-to-be demolished Republic Plaza, the six-story, 70′ structure has already raised concerns about turning West Main into a canyon and about how the building will loom over Westhaven public housing across the tracks to the north.

Charlottesville native Scott Peyton is one of those perturbed about the canyon effect and disappointed The Standard was granted a special use permit for 70′, which, thanks to a rezoning earlier this year, is now a by-right use on the western end of the downtown/UVA connector.

“The special use permit should only be granted if there’s some benefit to the public,” he says.

The Standard will sit on 2.5 acres, and plans call for 189 apartments and a 499-space parking garage. The first floor will have commercial and retail tenants.

That it is the third apartment building targeting students on West Main is another concern for Peyton. “It’s shortsighted to enter that narrow a population on West Main,” he says. “They’re essentially university dorms.”

And with underage drinking an issue at UVA and elsewhere, he finds it worrisome that The Flats houses World of Beer on its first floor, while The Uncommon will feature a Hardywood microbrewery on its street level.

Blake Hurt, who built Republic Plaza in 1989 and is leasing the land for The Standard to developer Landmark Properties, takes a more benign view of the influx of students on West Main, which he says would be a problem if they were plopped in the middle of the Venable neighborhood. “West Main is in many ways separate from the surrounding neighborhoods,” he says.

He wants to capture the liveliness on the Corner and on the Downtown Mall, and he says, “That means you’ve got to have residents.” Those residents will bring restaurants and businesses to an area that for a long time has been “a dead zone,” he says.

Hurt believes West Main is the best place for high-density development and he pooh-poohs the notion that The Standard will create a canyon across the street from the 101′  Flats. “Is there a canyon on the mall?” he asks. The Standard is “six stories, not 12,” he says. “This is not a Monticello Hotel. Does that intimidate you?”

The Standard is being built by Landmark Properties out of Athens, Georgia, a company that builds luxury student housing with amenities such as infinity pools, fitness centers and granite counter-topped kitchens.

“The demand for student housing and low interest rates made the project attractive,” says Hurt.

Landmark Properties currently has $800 million in student housing projects under construction, according to its website. It created The Retreat brand, and is now building Retreats in Blacksburg and Harrisonburg.

The company has donated $665,777 to the Charlottesville Affordable Housing Fund, which likely means it will not be renting affordable units in The Standard. Multiple calls to Landmark VP Jason Doornbos were not returned.

Architect John Matthews says the building permit was issued in November, and the target is occupancy by late summer/early fall 2018.

Meanwhile, Republic Plaza is coming down. Does that mean an implosion in our futures?

“I think it’s far less dramatic,” says Hurt. “I think they have a machine that’s going to claw it down.”

Republic Plaza is coming down. Staff photo
Unfortunately, there will not be an explosion to take down the building. Staff photo

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