Albemarle Place Belly-Up?

Jim Duncan noted the other day that Albemarle Place‘s website is gone. And a commenter on his site noted that the development’s signs have disappeared. Tasha Kates looked into this for the Progress today, and found Albemarle Place’s developers won’t comment and Whole Foods says they’ve bailed on the thing and are building their own place on the site of the Terrace Triple. Whole Foods first announced the move two years ago.

Rumors of trouble at Albemarle Place began back in April, when a commenter said she’d heard that funding had fallen through. That was about when its developers had finally got around to noticing that the sewage system couldn’t handle the ginormous new development, which presented a significant problem to them. (Or, more accurately, to the rest of us, since the $19M upgrade would come out of our pockets, not theirs.)

It remains to be seen whether Albemarle Place has actually been reduced to a shriveled pair of striped stockings under Dorothy’s house. But I’ll bet that we can sing soon enough.

23 thoughts on “Albemarle Place Belly-Up?”

  1. Amazing news. Given the ginormous size of the development, the current real estate market, and given our small size, I’m not surprised at all. I’m amazed it went this far to tell you the truth.

    So I wonder what will happen to the land. Who ownes that anyway? Oh boy, another crappy stip mall. Oh pinch me. Maybe we’ll get a lovely mega super wall mart there. Oh boy oh boy oh boy.

    We might want to hold off on that singing.

  2. Is that really Wal-Mart’s thing? Don’t they usually prefer sprawl-building massive sites outside of urban areas? It will be sad if something goes in there, like a Wal-Mart or industrial or god knows what, that would be worse than the dense, urban development Albemarle Place would have been (and yes, I’m very skeptical of the pie in the sky promises of the developers).

    The re-location of WFM is much closer to becoming a reality than it ever has been before, but that’s not saying much.

  3. How about making the part on Hydraulic Rd., the current scrappy concrete remnant of the laundromat and Blockbuster, into a park with a playground lot. The rest of it would still be available for development. The developers who “built this town” don’t know it, but a fine amenity would make their property more valuable not less. (Do you suppose “this town’s” prosperity has anything to do with UVa and beautiful open space in the rolling Piedmont?) So now who would fund a playground… some local grandee, with the country taking the hit on the tax rolls? I’d suggest the county fund it in toto, but that’s just me.

    I’d like to see a playground there to get people out of proprietary ones at apartment complexes. I don’t think a park is the worst thing a gov’t can run. As for more raging services, I read a disturbing story on privatized fire services in the LA Times yesterday:

    “Another way the rich are different: ‘concierge-level’ fire protection”
    When Southland clients’ multimillion-dollar homes were threatened, insurer AIG dispatched crews with fire retardant.
    By Kimi Yoshino, Los Angeles Times Staff Writer,1,4295538.story

  4. I love the idea of a park on the Hydraulic Rd. side. Especially given the dense apartment life near by. That would be perfect planning. And of course that means it would never happen. Sigh.

  5. Great Idea Colfer, maybe we could make this a movement.

    “And of course that means it would never happen. Sigh.”

    We could make it work . . . of course the county would have to purchase the property.

  6. Alright! Someone in economic development in the City must have done something right! An actual revenue producing large business in the City. WOOHOO! I think Whole Foods will be a boon. Now, raze the friggin’ gym and K Mart and put a Home Depot there.

  7. Wow, that’s an excellent point, Jeeperman: that’s the city line, isn’t it? The real news here would seem to be that a new grocery store is coming to Charlottesville. The city itself only has, what, 2-3 grocery stores of any size? Harris Teeter and Kroger at Food Lion, and then the IGA on Cherry (though I don’t think they do enough business to be relevant to this point). When it comes to grocery sales, Charlottesville residents end up spending their money in the county. I wonder if the city had anything to do with this.

  8. Giant on 29 is in the city. If you shop in the city, it gets a portion of your sales tax. Boring: it used to be 1% for the locality, 4% for the state. With the reduced tax on most food, apparently the locality still gets 1%.

    Anyway in the far-off early days of sprawl, cities morned the loss of their car dealerships to counties because of the big hit to sales tax.

  9. Why did the the terrace triple sit dormant for years?

    For the love of God please close the cherry ave IGA and put a good grocery store there. Give Downtown a grocery store!

  10. I like the idea of a movement to get a park in that Hydraulic location. And if you think about it, the cost of buying that location for the county (or city, which ever it is) could actually be less that it would have been to pay for the infrastructure (sewage, roads, water, etc., etc.) that the developer would never have paid for. Let’s do it.


  11. Any park there would also have to include a pedestrian bridge/tunnel project. The residential neighborhood there is directly across Hydraulic Road, and Hydraulic little children probably isn’t a thing we want to risk.

  12. The biggest need in that area is some dedicated youth athletic facilities such as little league baseball/softball fields and a youth football facility. I have begged the developer to use the existing ball field to no avail. This could be a great opportunity for the county to fulfill a great need.

  13. I’d just like to defend the Reid’s Market on Preston as a pretty decent place to buy groceries downtown. The prices are great, produce is often local, their butcher dept actually cuts their own meat (and supplies many local businesses), and you can get in out out quickly. They even sell Silk soy milk. I have shopped at the Cherry Ave. IGA and found it to be pretty depressing, but Reids is good. They even have a rack of used books.

  14. Wonderful news.
    Albemarle Place was going to be a traffic disaster, and I for one, can live without a Pottery Barn and CheeseCake Factory for the time being.

  15. I did have some curiousity though whether Albemarle Place would finally result in a real “Town Center” development, or just end up like Hollymeade. If someone actually built a real town center developement, and used a measure of sustainable design then it could have been an asset to the community.

    Although I understand the value of “in fill” I really lamented the loss of green space there. It was also the last segment of a stream otherwise buried under seminole square. I dreaded seeing the possibility it culverted (i.e. killed).

    It would be nice to see some kind of park there. As for a pedestrian bridge, we need more of that sort of thing in the 29 area anyway. Our reluctance to build overpasses, also made it necessary to keep expanding lanes and ultimately made pedestrian traffic dangerous at best (I do still see a few couragous thrill seekers try it though…)

    I’m also a big fan of Whole Foods in that empty space by K-Mart. Currently, it is only occupied by a few passion flowers, and Kudzu (Which I sincerely hope they’d remove).

  16. I’d like to comment that it is probably not so much the crashing housing market as the crashing financial markets. The developers were probably getting their money from a big bank in NY who in turn was going to sell that off in various CDOs, which have become very hard to sell. I think you will notice many large projects getting either postponed or all together canceled until it becomes easier to sell debt, which could be a while, unless they were smaller projects that were being privately financed by wealthy individuals.

  17. Actually money is really easy to get right now, at least from Europe and from China. The dollar is so low that a billion dollar development is like a pool addition for them. :-) OK, not quite that dramatic, but I doubt that money was the problem if they had any sort of reasonable investors and bankers.

    I would guess that the real estate market and the general economy for all of their development areas is probably causing them to pull back on a number of projects. And frankly, we’re pretty small for such a large development. I never thought it was a very good investment for them. So the C’ville project was probably the first to get axed.

    I’m for a park myself. The city and/or county should try to buy that land pronto. The type of developers that would likely pick up that land second hand would spend a lot less on the site — i.e., can you say walmart. I’m not sure about any remaining land other than a park, esp. on the street front. I guess it would be strip mall shopping, but it would be nice to see something a bit more creative. A youth facility is a great idea as mentioned above.

  18. A park next to the busiest, smelliest, and most dangerous major intersection in Albemarle/charlottesvile? I think I will take a pass on that.

  19. Good point about the intersection itself being smally, etc. I think a park wouldn’t be right on the intersection though, but a bit up the road on Hydraulic. It would want to incorporate the ball field and space all around it. I think the corner would continue to be relegated to shopping or some other public space like that.

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