We’re Paying for Albemarle Place’s Sewers

Jayson Whitehead reports in the current C-Ville Weekly that the developers behind Albemarle Place (on the old Sperry Marine site) have just now bothered to check whether the sewage system can handle their added capacity and, surprise, it can’t. The sewer line running down 29 is called the Meadow Creek interceptor, and it was put in by the city in the ’50s. The guys at Albemarle Place are complaining mightily, but if they’re planning on putting up a dime in proffers to help pay for the enormous upgrade project, I haven’t heard anything about it. I fail to understand why we’re obliged to pay for all of the infrastructure upgrades necessary to accommodate any fool who wanders into town and tries to plop down an enormous development where it doesn’t belong, Biscuit Run-style. Look at the title of most any page on their website: “Albermarle Place.” That says it all, doesn’t it?

I moved from merely disliking Albemarle Place to hating it when I saw that they’re calling the private road that will run through the development “New Main Street.” Screw you, Albemarle Place, for trying to declare that you’ve improved on downtown by privatizing it. Plus, we’ve got a sewer and you don’t, so ha-ha.

52 Responses to “We’re Paying for Albemarle Place’s Sewers”


  • I’d bet dollars to donuts that the “New Urbanist” line that Albemarle Place’s developers have trotted out is as bullshit as Old Trail Village. I drove out to Old Trail a few months ago. That’s “New Urbanist” in the same way that I’m “a Calvin Klein model.” It’s your standard craptacular sprawling suburban development, with your $200k ghetto over here, your “from the $300s” ghetto up there, and the “$500s” ghetto way over there. The housing is all separate from the vast, muddy fields that will ostensibly eventually comprise the commercial district. And the whole affair is far, far removed from the urban network of Charlottesville, making it your basic gated community and not, in fact, in any way New Urbanist.

    Ditto for Albemarle Place. If its developers were serious about New Urbanism, they’d have located the thing closer to anything. It’s a monolith. Fine, you can walk around once you get there, but you’ve got to drive there. The whole thing will be a giant roadblock to developing the parallel roads that are necessary to make 29 run better, and it’s not like Albemarle Place would ever be willing to have any part of that parallel network run through their joint.

    Hollymead Town Center was all about this sort of development, though not going as far as to label themselves New Urbanist, IIRC. And that is, again, your standard crappy shopping center. They could even figure out walkability from the car to the store: there’s often no path between the two, requiring trampling on their groundcover. There’s still a sea of parking, and driving through the parking lot is an exercise in frustration. I’m convinced that these places label themselves as New Urbanist or mixed-use (or a variation thereof) only to get approved, knowing full well that they’re going to adhere to no such standards. I guarantee you that Albemarle Place will do the same thing.

  • cville_libertarian

    These are the types of costs which must be built into the costs of the developments. Even if the developers merely pass them on to the ultimate tennants/buyers, they are part of the true costs of the developement – they are not externalities, and the city, for damn sure, shouldn’t be paying for this. They don’t even recapture the tax revenue from the property and sales taxes. The road upgrade costs should be handled the same way.

  • That’s “New Urbanist” in the same way that I’m “a Calvin Klein model.”

    I’ve always heard you are a very handsome man.

    They don’t even recapture the tax revenue from the property and sales taxes.

    Not directly to be sure. Since the RWSA is owned by the city and county it will recapture some of the money. This could be affected by a direct transfer from the county to the RWSA.

  • OK I am with you on the sewer cost thing but I am a little puzzled by your hate of this center. You said “I fail to understand why we’re obliged to pay for all of the infrastructure upgrades necessary to accommodate any fool who wanders into town and tries to plop down an enormous development where it doesn’t belong.” Where it doesn’t belong? Huh?! This is nothing like Biscuit Run which is on the fringe of development and on the boarder with rural areas. It’s a piece of land that is right smack in the middle of tons of shopping centers. If a development doesn’t belong at the intersection of 29 and Hydraulic then by God there are a lot of developments way out of place. Have you looked at the plans for the center? It looks like what you would want if you are asking for dense development and mixed use. Granted, for now it will be an island that you have to drive to but you have to start somewhere. If we never develop or redevelop any one property we will never get anywhere.

    This is a serious question: are there any development plans out there that you think are well thought out and a good idea in this community or would you be satisfied if we walked around and took the keys out of every bulldozer in the Charlottesville area?

  • Where it doesn’t belong? Huh?!

    So long as there is insufficient sewer capacity, there can be no question that a development of that scale does not belong there.

    This is a serious question: are there any development plans out there that you think are well thought out and a good idea in this community or would you be satisfied if we walked around and took the keys out of every bulldozer in the Charlottesville area?

    Do you like owning kittens or would you rather roast and eat their flesh?

    Let’s rephrase the question.

    Are there any major developments proposed or underway that I like? No. I think development is best done gradually, by people adding a house here, an apartment complex there, all under the umbrella of a reasonable master plan. When it’s done monolithically, it’s almost always bad. That’s what comes of the pressure of stockholders and the political clout that comes from the massive campaign contributions so often made by developers on that scale.

  • Waldo, you are trippin’. I for one fully accept the notion that people will move to Albemarle Place and live, work, and shop there.
    It will be one hermetic enclosure of Cheesecake Factory waitresses living in half-million apartments and shopping at Restoration Hardware when the mood suits.
    Onward, to the future!

  • What is the actual legal obligation for the RWSA to make improvements that are only necessary because of new construction? Frederick seems to be treating it as a done deal; who else has a say in this? RWSA board? City Council and County Board of Supervisors?

  • “Are there any major developments proposed or underway that I like? No. I think development is best done gradually, by people adding a house here, an apartment complex there, all under the umbrella of a reasonable master plan. When it’s done monolithically, it’s almost always bad.”

    So do you not agree with this mixed-use idea that has become a hit around here lately? I am just trying to clarify. Also, I thought there was a master plan for 29 North. If there is one does this development not comply with it?

  • I have an idea. Let’s just not give them a bigger sewer. This is their problem – not ours. Let’s just point and laugh and do absolutely nothing to help them. Even if they come to the city and the county and offer to share the costs.

    We pay too much money in real estate taxes as it stands. If these people want more of my tax money to be diverted from groceries in order to finance the infrastructure for their hundred million dollar investment then they can just take that crap up to Loudoun County where people seem to like that sort of thing.

    Why does Albemarle Place hate America?

  • So do you not agree with this mixed-use idea that has become a hit around here lately?

    I didn’t state or imply that. In fact, all of my comments have indicated precisely the opposite.

    Also, I thought there was a master plan for 29 North.

    They’re working on it.

  • I agree with Waldo, those huge “planned” developments reek. I would much rather this space be occupied by, for example, a gas station, 7-11, pet store, blockbuster, etc. That’s the heart and soul of the city and county.

  • I agree with Waldo, those huge “planned” developments reek. I would much rather this space be occupied by, for example, a gas station, 7-11, pet store, blockbuster, etc. That’s the heart and soul of the city and county.

    So you barbecue your kittens, you say?

  • “I didn’t state or imply that. In fact, all of my comments have indicated precisely the opposite.”

    Perhaps my tone wasn’t clear but I wasn’t trying to debate with you. Perhaps it was just my reading of it but it seemed like you did imply that when you said:

    “I think development is best done gradually, by people adding a house here, an apartment complex there, all under the umbrella of a reasonable master plan. When it’s done monolithically, it’s almost always bad.”

    Like I said it may have been my reading of it. I just don’t understand how building a house here and building an apartment complex there is any different. Don’t you end up with the same amount of people as if you put them all together and have them phased in into one development?

    I think the Albemarle Place development is exactly what we need on 29 (so long as they pay their fair share). It’s dense and it establishes a starting point for us to build upon. It isn’t going to be your typical shopping center with huge parking lots for one or two stores. It compacts several different stores, restaurants, offices, and amenities into an area that is about 64 acres. Had other centers done this years ago we probably wouldn’t have seen sprawl spread as far north as it has.

  • Someone said Biscuit Run is on the edge of development.

    Another way to look at it is that Biscuit Run is right on the edge of the heavily developed area. It’s a far better place to build than Crozet or the northern part of the county.

    Biscuit Run could be exactly the type of development people are asking for. Close to town, close to an interstate, school within walking distance.

    Albemarle Square is even more centrally located. Its not on the edge of sprawl like the Hollymead strip mall(s). Instead Albemarle Square is surrounded by existing development and is simply infill.

    Both should go forward.

  • I just don’t understand how building a house here and building an apartment complex there is any different. Don’t you end up with the same amount of people as if you put them all together and have them phased in into one development?

    Developments are built in no more than 2-3 phases, meaning that there are still the enormous effects of a metric pantload of square footage (commercial and residential) becoming available simultaneously. Around here that means sudden population spikes and, thus, strained resources. Just look at the Albemarle Place problem. If Albemarle Place (with its faux, privatized downtown duplicate) were to develop organically, like downtown Charlottesville, there’d be no sewage problem. The upgrades would happen as necessary, over the course of many years, preventing forehead-slapping moments like the one described in the article in question.

    The additional trouble comes as the properties age out. A properly developed area will constantly be aging out, with perhaps one in twenty or one in thirty structures requiring significant renovation at any given time. That patchwork approach helps to keep a neighborhood from going downhill, with everything looking lousy and people preferring to leave rather than renovate. All of Albemarle Place will be built simultaneously, which means it will all age out simultaneously. In short, the whole thing will gradually go to seed over the course of a decade, with little to keep the area economically viable without significant, simultaneously improvements.

    By way of analogy, consider a farmer who plants 5,000 acres of wheat. How is he going to harvest 5,000 acres of wheat all at once? What if the wheat crop fails that year — he has nothing to fall back on. If he plants all wheat each year, he’ll exhaust the soil in no time. It’s all about diversification.

    I think the Albemarle Place development is exactly what we need on 29 (so long as they pay their fair share). It’s dense and it establishes a starting point for us to build upon. It isn’t going to be your typical shopping center with huge parking lots for one or two stores. It compacts several different stores, restaurants, offices, and amenities into an area that is about 64 acres. Had other centers done this years ago we probably wouldn’t have seen sprawl spread as far north as it has.

    But it’s still ungood. Off the top of my head, here’s some of what they *won’t* do that would make it reasonable:

    * Be a part of the road network, rather than a subdivision-style series of terminal nodes.
    * Construct their buildings to support reusability in the decades ahead. Make retail spaces fit to be divided up to become offices. Make offices viable as apartments. Make it possible to break down walls to use buildings as warehouses.
    * Make the buildings private, and all other open space public property.
    * The parking is little better than your basic shopping center. In fact, I’ve taken their plan and highlighted in red all of the parking spaces.

    That’s an enormous amount of space dedicated to parking. Seems to me land isn’t quite expensive enough if a big time developer can afford to buy that much land and just pave it.

    It’s the fact that this is all private property masquerading as public property that creeps me out more than anything else.

  • It’s the fact that this is all private property masquerading as public property that creeps me out more than anything else.

    I love to shop, but I’ve never liked these types of shopping centers and I think you hit on why. The first one I visited was “Easton Town Center” on the outskirts of Columbus, OH (nothing central about it). It was a little city…I stayed at a hotel there, shopped there, and ate there. It was nice to be able to walk after driving around for appointments all day, but I realized that it was completely lacking in local character because all the tenants were national chains. I ate no local food, bought no souvenirs, and had no knowledge of the city of Columbus when I left.

    Since that first visit, I’ve seen more of these places pop up. They are all exactly the same whether they are in Ohio or Rhode Island or Texas. I fear that 29 is going to look more and more like 250 in Richmond if we make it easy for the developers.

  • Seems to me land isn’t quite expensive enough if a big time developer can afford to buy that much land and just pave it.

    I believe the plan you show isn’t just parking lots but in the southern part are parking garages. The proposed tall buildings in the back of the lot also show the land there is expensive.

  • Albemarle Place is not ready for development.

    * The sewers cannot handle its output.

    * The roads cannot handle the traffic.

    * Note that one exit is planned across from Cedar Hill (the city has barricaded that exit, probably to pressure the county into giving them some say

    * One exit onto 29, no light planned

    * NO pedestrian crosswalk for Hydraulic Road is planned (ref. neighborhood meeting with County Roads people Sept 06). Northbound 29 traffic will need to, in the first phases at any rate, exit onto Hydraulic and turn at the light onto 29N. This light currently allows three cars max through at a time.

  • Actually a well-placed source told me Albemarle Place had lost their funding. That is probably replaceable but may slow it down.

  • Since I first began posting at Cville News, I have always said, “Infrastructure cost should be born by the developer.” (or some variation thereof) What the developer does after that is not my problem. If it’s passed on to the buyer then so be it. That should be the cost of doing business. It is nice to see that I am no longer alone in my views on this.

    When I – the taxpayer – bear (a part of) the cost of paying for Infrastructure for a developer- that is the equivalent of government taking money out of my pocket (I the average citizen) for the benefit of a wealthier private citizen (the developer).

    As a side note all Albemarle Place really is- is a different type of shopping center- with the customer base already built in (apartment renters and/or condo owners).

  • If I could, I’d like to just touch on Old Trail for a minute. Waldo, the development you see out in Old Traid is not the development that was in the Crozet Master Plan. When the developer, Mr. Beights, originally came before the Crozet Community Association to tell us about his development he told us it would be around 800 units. When the Master Plan was completed there was a table in the appendix of the plan it showed there would be about 1,400 homes give or take a 100 in the area that included Old Trail. When Old Trail showed up before the board of supervisors for rezoning, it was over 2,000 homes and if you added the “By Right” development the developer had already started building, Old Trail came to about 2,600 units. They also nearly doubled the size of the commercial development found in the Crozet Master Plan. This is not to mention the data from the county showed the development would cost the tax payers over 1 million dollars a year in operational costs. Proffers for million dollar homes came to about 2,000 a home and 1,000 dollars for half million dollar town houses. When members of the community asked about the table found in the plan, we were told it was removed. To this day, the county, the board, the planning commission, the planning staff or anyone else for that matter has yet to prove that the Master Plan was not exactly as it was proposed to the community and reflected in the table in the appendix of plan, which showed a build out of 12,000. The community responded with a petition drive that gathered about 1,500 signatures to no effect. The ink wasn’t dry on the approval for Old Trail then the board continue to approve more rezonings in Crozet. Now we see double digit tax increases, school budget cuts and no still no answers to our transportation problems.
    It is interesting to see the axis of development, Boyd, Wyant, and Dorrier, who have never met a development they couldn’t vote for and apparently, like the planning staff, planning commission and everyone else involed with Albemarle Place missed the need for adequate sewerage are running for re-election. Recently in a discussion between board members, Mr. Boyd let growth area residents know that he considers the infrastructure needs found in the Master Plans being done by the County as mere suggestions or as he stated “they are not promises”.
    The Crozet Master Plan should have served as the canary in the coal mine, giving an early warning of danger. Unfortunately, we all watched as the canary died and decomposed and nothing changed. We all watched as VDOT showed us what the bill would be for Biscuit Run will be and now the issue at Albemarle place. Something has got to change!
    I believe any growth area resident who would consider voting for either Boyd, Wyant or Dorrier should review their record including who contributed to their last election. You’ll find a good deal of money came from developers. Those who don’t learn from history are doomed to repeat it!

  • A few facts.

    RWSA and ACSA reviewed the Albemalre Place plan before the Board approved it. They did not check capacities. They dropped the ball. Now they are trying to pick it back up. (Almost all RWSA staff has turned over in this time)

    Jeannine, I loved your comment. You’re right on. In fact, this developer flew many county officials on a private jet to Florida to tour one such development, so they could see first hand how wonderful Albemarle could be!

    Waldo, you’re pretty close in your assessment. This plan basically has three sides. The right side is standard big box – ala Best Buy. The county conceded this in its approval -ugh. The left side is what I’ll call Jeannine’s new urbanism style, and those are parking garages. The middle is the original owner, Sperry Marine, which stays, with big berms and gates for added feelings of security -ha.

  • So, am I over-reacting if I say I want to know more about this private jet flying “many county officials” to Florida, that 2centDonor tells us about?

    Who went? How long did they stay? Where did they stay? What was their itinerary? Exactly what were the expenses of that trip?

    Anybody know where we can get the facts?

  • While I don’t like faux downtowns and “New Main Streets”, I do think the location at 29 and Hydraulic is appropriate for redevelopment. It will be more dense than what is typically built, and it’s important that people actually live there and use it during non-business hours. This is an improvement over past development.

    Of course it should be planned with a grade-separate interchange on 29, space left for a future trolley system, etc. It’s all in the planning details. So I think Albemarle Place is heads above Hollymead and North Pointe which are pure sprawl. I rarely go to Target (though I love the store). I think large stores like Target are OK as long as they are built in already dense, urban areas. Target could have been built on West Main in a 2-3-story building if that’s what we had forced them to do.

    And I have no idea why Crozet was ever designated a growth area, or the Rivanna Village area. This regional area only needs one dense, urban city and it should have been Charlottesville only. Crozet was pure, rural bliss and should have been left that way.

  • 2CentDonor: As for who dropped the ball it would appear there’s enough blame to go around. That’s not to say the RWSA and ACSA doesn’t deserve their share of the blame, but this project went through multiple reviews and one has to wonder why this issue wasn’t picked up the county planning staff. This is not to mention the fact the planning commission has two architects as members. As for the board you have Boyd, Wyant, and Dorrier whose only question is “when do we vote”.
    If you look at Crozet, Albemarle Place and Biscuit Run just to name a few you see there’s clear evidence of systemic failure on the part of county planning. And to think there’s currently a committee that was pushed through by Mr. Boyd whose job it is to find ways the development process can be expedited.

    pdp8: As for Crozet it became a growth area when we got water and sewers to supply Con Agra and Acme Visible. The community did its best to plan for growth only to be stabbed in the back by the county. Maybe one of these days we’ll get the truth.

  • Why does it seem that people are “anti-parking” and “anti-car”? How are you supposed to get around, telportation?

    Everytime a development is proposed people bitch about the parking and how “big” the stores are.

    News Flash: Most of us drive cars. Quite often, actually. Not everyone worthwhile lives off the downtown mall or on JPA.

    And the moaning about “big box” stores. News Flash #2 – that’s where people shop. The local “boutique” stores around here suck. They have higher prices (sometimes substantially so), less selection, and only seem to be open while most of us are at work. Sorry, I can’t take vacation time to shop in your store. Not to mention that someone can get everything they need at Target – or drive around to several small shops only to find them closed or more than willing “to order” what you need and have it in a week. Sorry if some of us don’t want to shop at a store that’s open Monday-Thursday from 10am to 4pm.

    Now this all said, I think we have enough shopping in general around here. And enough houses that no one can afford. We got plenty of boutique shops for those who are available from 10-4 and plenty of “big box” stores for the rest of us 9 to 5ers. And we CERTAINLY do not need ANYTHING else on Route 29 at all. I think we’re at critical mass, there.

  • Wow,

    I’ve received great amusement at reading these comments, many of which are very insightful. I think Waldo is spot on here, and I especially appreciated Crozet Resident’s thoughts.

    That said, I’m a bit more moderate in my viewpoint. I don’t think big developments like this have to be done poorly, they just are. I also think it’s an insult to call any of it either “town center” or New Urbanism”. One of my biggest pet peeves here that despite many policies in the city and county that aim to do things differently, we are still following the same old pattern with stormwater and sewer. For example, they plan to culvert (another name for kill) the stream on this site, and add acres of impermeable surface. They are wiping out a potential green space in the county (that was actually a nice forest), and replacing all of it with pavement. (I’m sure Joni Mitchell might have some apt words…) Someone has to deal with this water once it runs off and becomes contaminated with gas and oil from the parking lots, not to mention the sewage generated. Who’s going to pay to clean that water? You and I.

    Likewise, how is this community really a true Town Center? Do we really see the people living there, also shopping and working there? (Like I’m sure that the the Hollymeade residents work at Target…) The whole idea of the town center was to make a place where you could walk to work, or bike to the grocery store. It also is supposed to connect, not seperate the surrounding community. If the supervisors and developers can’t understand that then we need to educate them.

  • News Flash: Most of us drive cars. Quite often, actually. Not everyone worthwhile lives off the downtown mall or on JPA.

    News Flash: just because things are a certain way does not mean that is the way they should be.

    We could all drive less and get more exercise and/or rely on public transportation. Buying from local shops v. box stores puts money directly into this community instead of some remote corporation.

  • Waldo-
    Good things take time. Old Trail is in it’s infancy. I’d love the opportunity to show you our plans for the property. Shoot me an email.
    Justin Beights

  • As BilCo wrote, Mike, your argument is that things should be the way that they are because that’s how they are just doesn’t make sense. Among philosophers and logicians, this as known as the “Appeal to Common Practice” fallacy.

    Polio was once common, yet people still sought to eradicate it. People walked or rode horses everywhere, but the Wright Brothers went ahead and invented the airplane. Things can be better than they are now.

  • With regard to New Urbanism, to tell the truth, compared to a lot of what has been built in and around Albemarle County I find it a step up. On the subject of “Town Centers”, if your really talking new urbanism, they should better be called “Neighborhood Centers” and should be in scale with the size of the neighborhood they serve. As such they do promote small locally owned businesses. To some extent our little downtown in Crozet serves that purpose. The original thought in the Crozet Master Plan is there would be a central downtown with two smaller neighborhood centers one one the east and one on the west side of Crozet. To some extent Crozet downtown would morph or upsize its commercial footprint, while the neighborhood centers would provide more local services. Of course, that’s what was supposed to happen, until the County destroyed our Master Plan and informed us they wanted us to grow to one half the size of the city of Charlottesville with more density then the city of Charlottesville.

  • If Albemarle Place were being built somewhere in the county that was still nice – like Biscuit Run – it would bother me. But it is being built appropriately in the area of the county that has already been converted to Fairfax, so no BFD – it will hardly stand out in the crowd. And I am would think that the resulting property tax/food tax/sales tax/employeed income tax will amortize the small cost of providing sewer in short order.

    No, I am not pro-development, but I am agnostic if development is done in an area that already sucks.

  • With regard to New Urbanism, to tell the truth, compared to a lot of what has been built in and around Albemarle County I find it a step up.

    I certainly have to agree with you there. The location, in terms of the urban geography, and the design, compared with what else could be, could certainly be a great deal worse. What I just don’t much appreciate is the claims that it’s something revolutionary when, in fact, this is a great deal less than the bare minimum of proper urban development. Plus, as I’d mentioned, I just don’t buy that they’re going to build this as it’s rendered.

  • I like new urbanism because in its best implementation it builds neighborhoods that connect with other neighborhoods, that build community. There are just too many places, even in Crozet that are now identified with the development name and not a community/neighborhood name. If I had my way as soon as the development was complete I’d tear down all the development signs.
    If you look in Crozet at the new developments that at least try to meet some of the criteria for new urbanism, you’ll see they’re the ones with sidewalks and other local amenities. Some time ago there was an interesting article in either the hook or cville about Wayland’s Grant a new urbanism development here in Crozet. I should say what was interesting was the letters to the editor from those who live their defending their neighborhood from an article they didn’t find too flattering.
    This is not to say all people will want to live is such a community, but enough will and for the rest there’s always Forest Lakes.

  • Anyone check out today’s Progress? There are plans to build a Williamsburg/Leesburg-style outlet center in Zion Crossroads. Here is the kicker, it’s a by-right development. Judging by the comments made by the supervisors and commission members, however, they would have approved it anyway. This is the sort of thing I have been talking about. The inability to satisfy a very vocal group of Albemarle residents with any development what so ever is not slowing growth down. This sort of thing is merely pushing development out to the more rural counties. Developers are probably asking themselves “Why should I keep dealing with unclear development standards and jumping through hoops of fire for these people when I can just build it across the county line and still collect on the benefits?” Do you need another example? How about Super Wal Mart and the rumored Home Depot in Greene County? If I recall correctly these two same stores attempted to locate along suburban corridors in the County but appeared to have dropped that idea. This was a success for anti-growthers right? I guess if you consider building these things 15 miles from town instead of 3 miles from town in an already developed areas a success then sure.

    As I have said many times I am not advocating a fully market driven development process but I do think we need to start dealing reality around here. These lofty ideas of building everything in the same way downtown was developed are unrealistic. The fact of the matter is that the market (our citizens) demand a diversity of services and whether you personally like it or not people want to shop at big box and brand name stores sometimes. I believe the jobs for us and our county officials are to set out clear standards for these large developments, make sure they are being built in areas reasonably close to our current urban/suburban areas, and ensuring that they help pay their fair cost for infrastructure.

    Go here for the Progress story on the development center: http://dailyprogress.com/servlet/Satellite?pagename=CDP/MGArticle/CDP_BasicArticle&c=MGArticle&cid=1173350986188&path=!news

  • It’s the fact that this is all private property masquerading as public property that creeps me out more than anything else.

    This is still a big issue that bothers me. When a mall or shopping center becomes a public meeting square, it should behave like a public square. That is, it should at that point fall under the laws and practices of public places. The big issue there is that means the private owner can no longer suppress free speech, etc. And yes, that means a private owner losses some control if they succeed in drawing the public to their place and away from the previously real public square. But that should be the price you pay for establishing a public square of sorts.

    In fact, this developer flew many county officials on a private jet to Florida to tour one such development, so they could see first hand how wonderful Albemarle could be!

    This is the other thing that really bothers me. It seems clear that big developers get officials in their pockets one way or the other. Or at least it sure appears that way when you see what has happened in Crozet and when you hear about such trips. It seems like even the appearance of impropriety should be enough for an investigation. It just seems like big development should be a lot harder and require more checks and balances.

    The bottom line is, it’s our community. If officials and developers make mistakes, we pay and pay and pay. And funny thing, those folks seem to make a lot of mistakes. We need to make lots of noise and pay attention to what’s happening. When officials notice things like sewer issues and make noise themselves, we should reward them.

    None of that means I’m against growth when needed and appropriate. I just don’t want to see a big office complex go up that never gets occupied. Or a big shopping center go up that so far is just a food court (hollymead). Or things happen that we pay for where we shouldn’t. But then, maybe I’m just picky.

  • Justin Beights left a comment about Old Trail two days ago that got caught in the moderation queue, but I neglected to check the queue until just now. It’s visible now, of course. My apologies.

  • Anyone check out today’s Progress? There are plans to build a Williamsburg/Leesburg-style outlet center in Zion Crossroads. Here is the kicker, it’s a by-right development. Judging by the comments made by the supervisors and commission members, however, they would have approved it anyway. This is the sort of thing I have been talking about. The inability to satisfy a very vocal group of Albemarle residents with any development what so ever is not slowing growth down. This sort of thing is merely pushing development out to the more rural counties.

    For the past 4 years it has been clear to me that the County of Louisa wants Zion’s Crossroad’s to be their “targeted growth area.” Much the same way that the County of Albemarle decided that 29 North was going to be their “targeted growth area” in the early 1980’s. That’s why Louisa County got together with Fluvanna County for the “other James River pipeline” project (to Draw water from the James via a pipeline from Bremo Bluff). Otherwise Zion Crossroads does not have a water supply to meet projected demand.

    Development at Zion Crossroads was going to happen anyway because the County of Louisa wants it. Not because development is being “pushed” their by anti-development Albemarle County residents. And If I were living in Louisa (I’m not) I would probably want a reasonable commercial alternative to the Charlottesville/Albemarle area. I would want it so that I could spend my money on things I want and do so close to where I live (spending less money on gas) and where the tax revenue would benefit my community instead of a community of transplants that does not appreciate me (except as underpaid labor) and where I could not afford to live.

    What will be fun to watch (in the future) is when the growth goes beyond where Louisa County wants or is comfortable with. I expect at that point you will see them reacting in much the same way that you see Albemarle acting now.

  • “Development at Zion Crossroads was going to happen anyway because the County of Louisa wants it. Not because development is being “pushed” their by anti-development Albemarle County residents.”

    Trvlnmn I would definitely say that their push for development has certainly contributed to their growth but would remind you that there are several localities out there that “want” growth but that doesn’t mean they will get it. Encouraging growth is part of the issue in counties like Greene, Fluvanna, and Louisa but there is a “x-factor” that also contributes and I believe that is their proximity to Charlottesville-Albemarle and the streamlined process for development. If you were a developer would your first choice be to locate in a locality of over 90,000 residents (130,000 when you add the City of Charlottesville) or an area of 30,000 (Louisa County) which one would you choose to get the most for your money? Say your first choice in Charlottesville-Albemarle but you find out that there are huge hurtles like moving targets on development standards but find out you can go 15 miles out, start moving dirty quickly, and still collect on all the benefits. What is your choice now?

  • We could all drive less and get more exercise and/or rely on public transportation. Buying from local shops v. box stores puts money directly into this community instead of some remote corporation.

    Until those are economically and time-feasible, I couldn’t care less. I’m not taking a string of buses (that to my knowledge, doesn’t exist) out from Lake Monticello to Random Local Shop, and paying an inflated price to support the community, if the store is even open by the time I get there.

    We’re a loooooooong way away from being a city or a culture like Amsterdam where public transportation is reliable and efficient. And that’s not even the big thing.. it’s that the city is so tightly packed in, residential intermixed with commercial on a large-scale, that makes walking and public transportation feasible in the first place.

    You are kidding yourselves and living in some sort of fantasy-land if you think a few pedestrian malls will approach that kind of level, the kind where getting around without the automobile is feasible on both a time and money level.

  • I’m not taking a string of buses (that to my knowledge, doesn’t exist) out from Lake Monticello to Random Local Shop, and paying an inflated price to support the community, if the store is even open by the time I get there.

    The very premise of this transportation model is having an urban core that’s dense enough that it can support mass transit as a primary means of transportation. People who live in Fluvanna will never (I hope) be a part of such a core, and I’ve never seen it suggested otherwise.

  • Of course the big joke on all of this is we’re arguing over where we’re going to buy stuff made in china (or some other non local place).

  • Chad Day we may all be kidding ourselves about automobiles. (Watching the oil companies gradually ratchet up the price this time…) Fluvanna is by no means too far out for a streetcar. Just depends on extracting the construction process from the crazed engineering mode of production it’s in now. Doing anything to the Washington Metro costs a billion dollars!

  • The very premise of this transportation model is having an urban core that’s dense enough that it can support mass transit as a primary means of transportation. People who live in Fluvanna will never (I hope) be a part of such a core, and I’ve never seen it suggested otherwise.

    Doesn’t this project though add to the urban density? It certainly sounds like the right location from a non-traffic standpoint.

    Charlottesville is just too small, in my opinion, to make something like mass transit work. There simply aren’t enough people willing to take it.

    Of course, that’s the problem .. once the city has enough population to have mass-transit be less of a money pit, the city is already in gridlock.

    I mean .. the number one complaint about the Downtown Mall is parking. Even if the Downtown Mall was .. 5 times it’s current size, in width and length, you’d have people complaining that they have to walk 5 minutes to the store in the center.

    blah. talking about traffic and growth is depressing me. :\

  • Doesn’t this project though add to the urban density?

    It does — as it would anywhere it was put, even in Fluvanna — but it’s too distant from the urban core to do so meaningfully. Imagine a heat map of Charlottesville, with darker colors indicating a greater per-acre population. It would be darkest downtown and become lighter as you move farther from town, getting splotchily darker in areas of denser development along the way. This development is a bit of dense population in a sea of relatively sparse population, a sort of a heat island.

    Better where it is than up by Ruckersville, certainly, but better still at, say, the intersection of McIntire and West Main, or somewhere along Preston, or perhaps out Fifth St. Extended.

  • Gotta agree with Chad, I scoff when I hear people complain about parking downtown. It’s easy as pie, go to the Water Street garage. But seems it’s bound to get much worse as development fills in, even with a deck of parking integrated here & there.

    I’m still amazed how much highway & public transit projects cost. That freeway ramp in Oakland that melted on Sunday may take months to fix because they have to special order custom steel beams. You’d think a 85 foot steel beam for a highway ramp would be pretty standard by now, even with some specific curve. Somebody’s made a feather big nest in keeping this all custom work, and it’s not the usual bugbears in free-market ideology, gov’t & labor. It’s for-profit management. Same thing happened with nuclear power plants in the 1960’s and 70’s. Each one was a custom job, more or less, in the U.S. and it was very expensive, overruns, etc. By contrast France had a standard design. Let’s not mention the Soviet Union…

  • Imagine a heat map of Charlottesville, with darker colors indicating a greater per-acre population. It would be darkest downtown and become lighter as you move farther from town, getting splotchily darker in areas of denser development along the way.

    This is the best I could find –

    Via Neighboroo.

    If this code is incorrect, please delete or fix it.

  • Ooooh, cool, Jim. The data appears to aggregate based on ZIP codes (or something like that), rather than census tracts, so it’s not particularly fine-grained, but it’s a heck of a start. That’s a really fun way to play with demographic data. :)

  • Albemarle Place should be a state of the art Little League Baseball Facility.

  • Just looked @the website for the company that’s behind the retail development of Albemarle Place and it no longer lists Albemarle Place, maybe the person who said it lost its funding was right…

    http://www.continental-realestate.com/retail/

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