Category Archives: Development

Virginia Beach’s Planning Anti-Pattern

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.

BOS Approves a Costco for Stonefield

The Board of Supervisors has given the Stonefield shopping center permission to add a Costco, Sean Tubbs wrote for Charlottesville Tomorrow on Thursday. Ken Boyd and Petie Craddock were the dissenters in the vote. Permission was required because the developer, South Carolina-based Edens, needed to change the already approved layout of the roads to accommodate the 155,000 square foot building, and because they’d need to relocate a plaza and eliminate a café in favor of an “enhanced pedestrian corridor,” which I assume is a euphemism for a sidewalk. With these two waivers, that’s a total of seventeen waivers that the county has granted Edens for Stonefield.

As Dave McNair writes in The Hook, all of this is precisely the opposite of what Edens promoted Stonefield as. Back when they were calling this “Albemarle Place,” Edens pitched the development as a mixed-use, new urbanist, anti-shopping-center, complete with renderings that showed something like the Downtown Mall, transplanted to 29 North. (They even labelled one road in the development as “New Main Street,” stomach-turningly.) They’re still touting it as “neighborhood style [sic] development” on their website, despite the addition of Costco.

Those puzzled by Ken Boyd’s dissenting vote might look at this bit of McNair’s article:

“There is somewhat of a campaign of misinformation against the Stonefield application for minor plan variations and it appears to me to be being waged by other developers,” claims Rooker, whose district Stonefield occupies.

“In my opinion,” he adds, “this developer is being singled out for much harsher treatment because of a campaign of opposition from other developers and at least one board member who is carrying their water.”

Say what?

Rooker’s is not the only allegation of a board member carrying water for a developer, but none of his fellow supervisors had responded to such claims by press time.

9/16 Update: I originally wrote that Edens is based in North Carolina. They’re actually based in South Carolina.

Snow-Falling the Western Bypass

C-Ville Weekly has a long, lovely feature about the Western Bypass, by Graelyn Brashear. The article itself is a history of efforts to build a bypass around the 29 Bypass, presented through the lens of a driving tour of the proposed route with Supervisor Ken Boyd and Piedmont Environmental Coalition’s Jeff Werner riding in the back seat. It incorporates video, maps, per-section public comments, and audio throughout, presented not in a standard C-Ville Weekly page template, but instead as a wholly designed page. Brashear’s article doesn’t provide any new information, nor is that the goal, but instead is taking a long view on the project, sort of a “how we got here.”

This type of integrative story is known in the industry as a “Snow Fall” piece, named for the New York Times story of that title published last year, which resulted in a lot of analysis and endless discussion at conferences. (As an attendee of those conference, I’ll allow that perhaps the discussions only feel endless.) The work was done by Vibethink, the local website design shop who created C-Ville Weekly’s website. This sort of work adds a great deal of production cost to an article, not just in terms of website development, but also producing all of the supplementary multimedia materials. Some argue that snow-falling an article is a crutch, while others argue that it’s simply using the web as something more than a place to shovel material that also appeared in print. I know that when I’ll want to direct somebody to a place to learn more about the Western Bypass, I’ll send ’em to Brashear’s article.