The Downtown Regal is being seriously overhauled, Graelyn Brashear writes in C-Ville Weekly. It will no longer be a Regal, and its owner and her new business partner are going to add a restaurant and cocktails. The owner of Violet Crown Cinema in Austin (it gets 4 stars on Yelp) wants to make this the second location in what he hopes will become a nationwide chain of such places. Regal’s 15-year lease recently ran out, not long after they managed to drive Vinegar Hill out of business by moving to showing mostly independent films. The new facility is slated to open by November.
The Charlottesville Albemarle Airport is planning a major expansion, Nate Delesline III reports for The Daily Progress. They’re spending $600k to design a new security area, bigger bathrooms, move the gift shop, replace the escalator, expand the seating areas, and a few other changes. No money has been allocated by state or federal officials for the construction, which CHO figures will run between $4 million and $6 million. Construction is due to start in the summer.
A pretty nervy redevelopment plan for the south side of downtown has been proposed, Brian Wheeler reports for Charlottesville Tomorrow. An architecture firm was hired by the city to envision how to overhaul the area encompassing the Ix Building, Crescent Hall, and Friendship Court, a pretty broad swath of the greater downtown area. The plan calls for the construction of 1,300 new housing units, 1.4 million square feet of commercial space, and bringing Pollocks Branch (a stream long ago buried in pipes) back to the surface as a linear park running through the whole area. It’s all meant, of course, to be pedestrian-friendly. The rendering shows Friendship Court completely gone, replaced with the housing units—surely an alarming image to residents of the low-income neighborhood, although the involvement of the Piedmont Housing Alliance (which manages Friendship Court) in the project is probably a good sign.
At this point it’s all just a vision—there is no developer proposing to do this, and no public funding available to kick-start such work. It’s what the city is calling a “Strategic Investment Area,” and presumably if City Council wants to make this happen, they’ll start shaping planning and development guidance to facilitate that.
The Carmike six-screen theater on 29N is closing down, Graelyn Brashear reports for C-Ville Weekly. It became a $1.50 second-run theater a year ago, but that only stalled its demise briefly. That leaves Charlottesville an all-Regal town, with their six-screen theater on the Downtown Mall and their fourteen-screen theater in the Stonefield development.
In an article about Virginia Beach municipal planning staff meeting with Charlottesville planning staff, C-Ville Weekly’s Laura Ingles writes:
Strategic Growth Area Manager Barry Frankenfield showed the group before-and-after slides of a Virginia Beach street corner. The first shot, with a remarkable similarity to the Random Row buildings at the corner of West Main Street and McIntire Road, consisted of old, rundown one-story buildings, unused sidewalks along uneven parking lots, and no trees. The second photo revealed a multi-story, mixed-use building covering several blocks, with storefronts and colorful overhangs, expansive sidewalks, and street trees every few yards.
“We went from a place where you can have a $1.99 waffle and a cup of coffee to now, you can get a piece of meat for $48,” Frankenfield said. “I think that’s progress.”
So, basically, let’s just do the opposite of whatever Virginia Beach is doing. Instructive.