BAR Rules on Demolitions, Carousel Fence

Last night, the Board of Architectural Review voted to allow the partial demolition Holsinger warehouse on West Main, the erection of a 3.5′ fence around the planned carousel in front of the Virginia Discovery Museum, the demolition of the former Merchants Tire and Peyton Pontiac buildings next to the bridge, and the demolition of the old Strawberry’s building next to the Paramount theater. Jake Mooney has the story in today’s Progress.

29 thoughts on “BAR Rules on Demolitions, Carousel Fence”

  1. Didn’t see you at the meeting, Waldo. How ’bout some attribution on the main page?


    Daily Progress staff writer

    In a marathon meeting Tuesday, Charlottesville’s architectural review board approved three separate demolition projects on West Main Street, including the historically black First Baptist Church’s plan to knock down the rear two-thirds of a former warehouse built by photographer Rufus Holsinger.

    Early in the session, which took more than five hours, the board also approved a scaled-down, 42-inch protective fence for an 8 1/2-foot-tall “kiddie carousel” the Virginia Discovery Museum hopes to install on the city’s Downtown Mall.

    The discussion of the church’s proposal to knock down the 87-year-old Priority Press building, though, was the centerpiece of what board member Kenneth Schwartz called “definitely my most memorable Board of Architectural Review meeting in I don’t know how many years.”

    Before the 6-1 vote in favor of leveling part of the historic structure to make way for a church expansion, several board members said they had been so moved by the passionate testimonials of the church’s parishioners that they overlooked staff recommendations and the guidelines the board usually follows on demolition requests. [note: this is not wholly correct. Staff recommended against total demolition, but was OK with the partial demolition. A correction should run in the paper.]

    A string of emotional speakers called the church’s social programs an invaluable resource to surrounding neighborhoods, arguing that the congregation could be forced to move if it cannot expand.

    “I’m a firm believer in the guidelines,” board member Preston Coiner said. “I attempt to follow them whenever I can, but I’ve done a lot of soul searching, and I’ve called on a lot of the same powers that y’all have called on, and I intend to support your application.”

    “When I look at my heart and myself,” Chairwoman Joan Fenton said, pointing to a copy of the board’s rules for demolition requests, “I believe there is a morality that takes precedence over what this document says to me.”

    Other members argued, however, that the board’s job is strictly to rule on architectural matters — not to consider broader social issues.

    “I would remind the public that the name of this board is the Board of Architectural Review,” said member Lynne Heetderks, the lone vote against the demolition and the head of the Albemarle County Historical Society. “It’s not the board of cultural review, it’s not the board of social review. That’s City Council’s job.”

    The lead architect on the project is Councilor Maurice Cox, who did not speak at the meeting and who planned to recuse himself from any council discussions of the matter. Board member Wade Tremblay was absent from Tuesday’s vote, and member Craig Barton recused himself because he is a member of Cox’s architectural firm, RBGC.

    Despite Heetderks’ caution, and similar admonitions from Schwartz, a crowd of church members packed the meeting room in City Hall to support the proposal.

    “My biggest concern has always been people, what’s best for people. Buildings, clothes, cars, it comes and goes,” the Rev. Bruce Beard, the church’s pastor, said during a break in the meeting. “It’s not as important as a drug addict that goes through my program to get off drugs. … That, for me, is more important than the front of a building that used to be a warehouse.”

    Partial demolition, he added, represents a compromise from what church officials had hoped to do. “I’m willing to go along with it,” he said. “I’m less than enthusiastic about it.”

    Still, the church members in attendance cheered as it became apparent the board would allow the demolition.

    The two preservationists who spoke during the public comment period offered only mild resistance, arguing that other city houses of worship have expanded with an eye toward preserving historical buildings, and noting that the vast majority of the buildings that stood along West Main Street in the early years of the 20th century are gone.

    Preventing further loss of historic resources, Schwartz argued, is the reason the board exists.

    Though he voted for the demolition, the University of Virginia architecture professor ended his comments on an ominous note: “I would fear that in future decisions that may come before this board, that the way we have countermanded staff’s recommendations and undermined our own guidelines may come back to haunt us.” [Again, this isn’t wholly correct. They didn’t countermand staff’s recommendations.]

    In other votes, the board also approved demolition of the former Merchants Tire and Peyton Pontiac Buildings, just over the Drewary Brown Bridge from the church on West Main Street.

    The City Council ruled in 1997 that the buildings, owned by Dave Matthews Band manager Coran Capshaw, do not contribute to the street’s historic nature, but Schwartz disagreed, calling the Peyton Pontiac building “one of the only remaining structures of the automobile era, the heyday of the automobile on West Main Street.”

    Jim Grigg, the architect in charge of the project, said outside the meeting that Capshaw has not decided what to do with the land.

    In its fourth approval of a demolition request Tuesday, the board also voted to allow removal of the so-called “Strawberry building,” at 217 E. Main St., to make room for the renovation of the Paramount Theater. Board members heard, but did not vote on, Paramount representatives’ plans for a replacement building.

  2. Didn’t see you at the meeting, Waldo. How ’bout some attribution on the main page?

    Sorry about that — I was in a big hurry to get to Computers4Kids, and accidentally left that out.

  3. There’s nothing arrogant or wrong about wanting proper attribution for stories. Jake Mooney’s just asking for fairness and Waldo quickly corrected his oversight.

    Other local news sources have been known to cite stories regarding the Dave Matthews Band that came from Waldo’s website. That’s wrong, too, and I think they’ve made corrections, when called on it.

    Fair’s fair.

    By the way, though, what does the Daily Progress have to say about Jake Mooney posting their stories directly on this site? I know Jake Mooney writes them, but I believe Media General owns them.

  4. Can’t go but a day around here before that Jake Mooney starts poking his little Hawaii nose where it don’t rightly belong. What with him and that buffoon Horseworker69, this place is being run by the inmates.

  5. You’re right, I was making an assumption as to who posted the stories, without knowing the facts.

    But, the question still remains, is somebody violating the Daily Progress’s copyright by posting their stories, without their permission? Granted, maybe the Daily Progress has granted permission. I don’t know.

    Don’t get me wrong; it’s helpful to see the stories posted here. But, I’d be interested in hearing whether there really is a violation of copyright (regardless of who may have committed the violation).

    Anybody with knowledge in the field?

  6. “little Hawaii nose” I have no idea what this means. insult?

    No doubt that it is one of the inside jokes the puerile like to litter across this site.

    Don’t worry . . . just move on . . . (unless of course you are an indigenous person of Hawai’i — in which case you might rightly excoriate these puerile pansies).

  7. actually I was born on the island of Oahu and wanted to give the poster a chance to explain their meaning BEFORE lashing out.

  8. Hey can we get back on track. Does anyone care about the demolition of these buildings?

    If you believe in the Amityville Horror, I suspect that the ghosts of those ripped off at the auto place might rise and haunt Cvillians…..


  9. Not if your a native.

    Precisely. The indigenous language uses glottal stops. That is what is represented by the apostrophe. Thus, the name has four syllables.

    Have a listen here (a WAV sound file).

  10. Now that you ask , the warehouse being torn down is OK by me. Just because a building is old doesn’t mean it’s worth keeping. With that logic I would be writing this on an commodore amiga with a super fast 9600 baud modem. It’s a warehouse for goodness sake not the Rotunda.

    Hell, blow it up and sell tickets.

  11. The people living on Hawaii now call it “Hawaii” and the original poster called it “Hawaii”. Where you all get off making this into some sort of ‘we got there first’ man-ranch, I don’t know.

    You may well have an argument that the people there before the Americans called it something that sounded like you might pronounce “Hawai’i”, if that means much of anything in this context. But you certainly have no compelling argument that the original poster was referring to those islands in that particular sense, as opposed to the generalized state of the nation spelled “Hawaii”.

    Snooty-snoots can all eat it. I, too, say Hawaii, I use infer to mean imply and vice versa and, dammit, when I feel like, I say beg the question to mean invite the question. My language is one of usage, not one of elitism.

    PS – I presume by native you all don’t mean born there, right? Eat it commies.

  12. this is the second use on this board of this phrase. Could you, for the love of god, explain in a way that will communicate to the unenlightened what the heck this “man-ranch” means. The first time, seafood hut, it was used in reference to a salad dressing.

  13. communicate to the unenlightened . .

    I don’t know which is worse: that a clique of some Anonymous Cowards with the collective maturity of an auditorium of Brittany Spears fans like to use this board to pass open notes each other messages replete with otherwise inane lingo — “works with horses” (tee-hee!), “man-ranch” (squeal!), “Hawaii” + “Mooney” (chuckle!), “cum-towel” (feigned-gasp!) — or that someone else here would be so desperate to learn and parrot their talk.

    How so very “middle school”.

  14. Snooty-snoots can all eat it. I, too, say Hawaii, I use infer to mean imply and vice versa and, dammit, when I feel like, I say beg the question to mean invite the question. My language is one of usage, not one of elitism.

    Is this a machine-translation?

  15. “How so very …”? If you don’t mind my saying, that’s an odd construction.

    But my real question, which has remained unanswered over on that other thread, is this: How are you, “Belle” any less anonymous than me? You’re all about calling people cowards, but you’re posting under a pseudonym that can’t be traced to any real, identifiable person. If I register under the screen name “Anonymous,” does that make me less of a coward? I don’t think so, and I don’t think it makes you less of one that you’ve come up with a false identity to use in all your so very Ani DiFranco-style posts.

    Please, “Belle,” “BurntHombre” and all the rest of you: If you’re going to throw stones at people for posting anonymously, provide your real names, addresses and phone numbers as a resource. If you’re going to criticize people for being unaccountable, how ’bout some accountability from you?

    Or else shut up.

  16. Using a pseudonym does at least create a sense of consistency, which is some sort of accountability.

    Any DiFranco

  17. Fine. So my pseudonym is “Anonymous.” I get the feeling it’s a hell of a lot more accurate than “Belle,” by the way.


    Daily Progress staff writer

    The decision by Charlottesville’s architectural review board to allow

    partial demolition of a historic West Main Street building made waves in

    city development circles this week, as critics questioned the board’s

    methods and a prominent member resigned with little explanation.

    Kenneth Schwartz, an architect and University of Virginia professor who

    opposed two of the four demolitions approved at Tuesday’s Board of

    Architectural Review meeting, stepped down from the City

    Council-appointed board hours later in an e-mail to Mayor Blake


    In a brief message, Schwartz wrote that it is “a good time for new blood

    on the board.” Since then he has declined to discuss his resignation


    The meeting was an unusually fiery one, during which members of First

    Baptist Church spoke passionately in favor of a plan to tear down

    two-thirds of the 87-year-old Priority Press building next door in a

    church expansion. The building was constructed by noted photographer

    Rufus Holsinger.

    Church supporters cheered between speeches and, at times, jeered when

    Schwartz and other members spoke against demolition. In the end, several

    board members who voted for the proposal said they had been moved by the

    testimonials to overlook their own guidelines, which stress historic and

    architectural concerns.

    Though he eventually voted with the majority, Schwartz predicted the

    decision to stray from the guidelines “may come back to haunt us.” Lynne

    Heetderks, the only dissenter in the 6-1 vote, said the board should not

    consider factors besides architecture.

    Caravati, a contractor by trade who served on the board for seven years,

    echoed those sentiments Friday. “We were always very faithful to the

    guidelines, and we realized what our role was and what our position

    within that role was,” he said. “You have to be real careful, because

    it’s governmental action and you have to be fair to everybody all the


    Though he stressed that he was not criticizing the board’s decision in

    favor of demolition, Caravati pronounced himself troubled over members’

    stated reasons for voting and the precedents they could set.

    “The next guy,” he said, “is going to come back and construct a social

    argument that’s equally as valid and equally as emotional as the First

    Baptist Church, and how do you deny that one?”

    Adding to the complexity of Tuesday’s meeting, the church architectural

    team — led by city councilor and frequent demolition opponent Maurice

    Cox — had originally asked to tear the press building down completely.

    City planning department staff opposed the idea, and the architects

    submitted a revised request for partial demolition.

    Staff member Tarpley Vest told the board at the meeting that city

    planners “can support that scheme,” but the only written opinion in

    board members’ meeting packets was the one opposing total demolition

    based on the architectural guidelines.

    In all, it amounted to a confusing scene, and one that bothered

    Councilor Meredith Richards when she heard it recounted.

    “They’re supposed to judge a demolition request on its own merits,”

    Richards said Friday. “Insofar as the staff judgment was that the

    partial demolition request was within the guidelines, then I’m

    comfortable with the BAR’s support for that.”

    “But,” she added, “to the extent that they let emotion and social

    considerations enter their judgment, then this does set a bad


    Board Chairwoman Joan Fenton, though, defended the vote. “I don’t see it

    as inconsistent,” she said. “I see it as, here was an example of

    compromise on both sides to make something work.”

    The church, she noted, abandoned its earlier plans to move its worship

    space out of the historic church building and into the proposed new

    facility on the Priority Press site. Allowing some demolition of the

    press building but keeping the congregation in the church, she argued,

    was itself an act of preservation by the board.

    Moreover, the church would have considered leaving West Main Street had

    the request not been granted.

    “To me, this is not purely a social issue but a different interpretation

    of what preservation is, and for me preservation is the [church]

    building with the people,” said Fenton, who has a master’s degree in

    folklore. “Is it better to have the church become a bar, and keep the

    Priority Press building?”

    Fenton added that there may be cause to revisit and broaden the

    demolition guidelines.

    “In my mind, the reason they’re called ‘guidelines’ is that you’re

    looking for human beings to make a judgment,” she said. “It’s not a law

    — it’s a guideline and every person has to interpret that as they see


    Fenton called Schwartz an asset to the board, and she said she did not

    know the reasons behind his sudden departure.

    Both Richards and Caravati, meanwhile, said they doubt he quit over the

    outcome of the contentious meeting. More likely, Richards said, “he’s

    overextended and he needs to shed some of his responsibilities.”

    Developer Colin Rolph, who had a demolition request of his own rejected

    by the board in 2000, has a different theory: “He’s the one that

    realized that what they did at that meeting is going to cause them grief

    down the road,” Rolph said.

    The board cited historic preservation — and the demolition guidelines —

    when it denied Rolph and then-partner Lee Danielson permission to tear

    down four empty buildings on the Downtown Mall.

    On appeal, the council in September 2000 voted for removal of one

    building and parts of two others. The buildings remain standing, and

    Danielson won the right to buy them in a private auction with Rolph last

    week as part of the breakup of their jointly owned companies.

    On Friday, Rolph praised board member Heetderks, who also voted against

    his and Danielson’s demolition request, for basing her decision about

    the Priority Press building solely on architectural grounds. The rest of

    the board, he said, made a mistake by considering other issues.

    “It’s like anything: The minute you set a second standard, what are you

    going to do in the future?” Rolph said. “I just look at it and say,

    ‘Wait a second — where do you draw the line?’”

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