Albemarle Place is coming

Albemarle Place … it is almost upon us.

I have been writing about this for a little while now, and it’s almost here. I saw a note on cvillenews that their site has been updated … it certainly is enlightening. Make no mistake; this project is going to be massive.

I will let my bolding speak in place of my sarcasm:

No one has time these days to spend all day in the car, so why not park your car at our town center, then stroll along our Main Street. Meet friends, window shop and enjoy the atmosphere. Find clothing for that upcoming event and a special gift at one of our many boutique shops. Then, swing by and pick up fresh produce at our high-end market before heading home, and you haven’t had to navigate any traffic to get it all done!

This is a good concept, and it should prove interesting to watch. A little bit of candor would go a long way. Almost 60,000 vehicles travel this intersection everyday. What’s a few more? Source: VDOT

New Urbanism is all the rage. Bacon’s Rebellion had an interesting article a little while ago about this project.

By traditional planning logic, the Albemarle Place project is in the worst possible location: The trips generated by thousands of additional residents and workers should turn U.S. 29 into a poster child for gridlock. But the Albemarle planners know what they’re doing. In fact, the rest of Virginia should watch this development closely because it may offer a way to harness economic growth into a mechanism for transforming the disconnected, traffic-plagued development of the past four decades into something far more livable.

Resources: TJPDC, VDOT.

Either way, people are going to move here to be a part of Albemarle Place. I wouldn’t mind if people contacted me to help them relocate.

Technorati Tags: , , , ,

(Visited 83 times, 1 visits today)


  1. Waldo Jaquith December 13, 2005 at 23:51

    I’ve been fuming all day over their primary corridor being named “New Main Street” on their site renderings. I’m fighting the urge to blog about it for a day or two, because one must never blog angry.


  2. Duane Gran December 13, 2005 at 23:05

    This is indeed encouraging. On the whole it is a good move to see development that mixes residential and business. Back in the day we called these things a “city”, but that is another matter altogether. The only lingering concern about the design is that it has the appearance of a public place, but I suspect that much of the sidewalk space is private. This has real implications for protection of free speech and right of assembly, but on the whole the news is good.

  3. Jim December 13, 2005 at 23:15

    The Private/Public space is an interesting question, and one that may well be decided (but probably not settled) soon.

    My guess is that it is all private space … its own little city within a City (or County in this matter).

  4. TrvlnMn December 14, 2005 at 03:08

    Wow. I was looking at some of the artist renderings, and I swear a lot of them look like they were lifted straight from “Westwood Village” and a few other locations in Los Angeles.

    The Playa Vista. development, (south of Marina Del Ray in L.A- at the old Hughes Aircraft tract ), is using this development model (the live, work, shop, play model) pretty much for the same reasons they’re using it here to maximize the use of the space. Fortunately Virginia isn’t nearly as developed as L.A.

    Once this is finished.. anyone who thought traffic on 29 is bad now.. well you get the picture.

    Are the residential sections planned as Condo’s or Rental? For any that might be condo I wonder how this new neighborhood model will affect their “owners associations?” That part alone sounds like a potential mess. Oh, and any idea what the price ranges will be?

  5. Joe December 14, 2005 at 07:55

    I was thinking how the artists lacked creativity and just drew pictures of the Reston Town Center.

    So, we agree that traffic will be dreadful. Jim, can you speculate on the result of property values both in the direct neighborhood and in the city as a whole? It seems that as long as more people move here to be a part of AP than flee the city to get away from it, the values will rise.

  6. Jim December 14, 2005 at 07:14

    If anyone wants an idea of what traffic will look like when this is built, stop by my office at 5:30 today.

    Residential sections are going to be (I believe, but am not sure) at least condo and rental, and maybe some single family. Whether they have any limitations on % of rentals, I have no idea. Price ranges, I would guess would be from $300k and up. Technically, the County “encourages” the developers to build at least 10% of the units as “affordable housing;” but you can see how successful that has been in Old Trail.

    TrvlnMn, I don’t follow you with regards to how the Neighborhood Model might impact the owners’ associations – I’m not sure the County would have any influence on how those are structured.

  7. UVA08 December 14, 2005 at 12:59

    Anyone have any idea when they are going to start breaking ground on the project? I know they have planted a few trees and did some minor digging, but I havent seen anything major going on over there.

  8. Jim December 14, 2005 at 12:50

    Property values as a whole – let me break out my crystal ball, with the caveat that everybody’s is different:

    The trends indicate that with more growth, property values rise. See the D.C -> Reston -> Manassas -> Gainesville -> Culpeper growth pattern.

    People do tend to want to be able to walk to work/restaurants/play/etc. This tends to trend toward increased values here as well. From that perspective, I see that the property values in and around AP will increase. It seems to be an excellent idea, theoretically, but … most of the housing seems to be high-end to start with.

    800 units of living space offer you everything from highrise rentals to elegant midrise and highrise condominiums. With state-of-the art electronics in each unit … private elegance with a wealth of entertainment and shopping options

    I think that the lack of adequate infrastructure is going to have an impact on the property’s value … how much, I have no idea.

    Construction costs are high, fossil fuel prices are high – maybe they will balance each other out. In short, I just don’t know what property values will do other than those existing units that are closer will probably turn out to be excellent values – particularly the Turtle Creek condos.

    Sidenote: there are several misspellings and punctuation errors on the site – something that is infuriating on what may be one’s “first professional impression” of this development.

  9. Jim December 14, 2005 at 13:32

    C-Ville said in 2002:

    If all goes smoothly in the next stages of approval, which are expected to last through the spring, Albemarle Place, which in the end will cost owners Landonomics, Inc. and Ezon, Inc. more than $200 million dollars, could be breaking ground as early as the end of 2003. And though no retailers will allow the release of their names or details until the project is fully underway, in as little as 18 months the first phase of Albemarle Place could be completed.

    WTJU said in 2003:

    Albemarle Place still needs an approved site plan before construction begins in the spring.

    The HooK in 2003:

    Fenner estimates a best-case scenario of breaking ground in the spring. The developers have long wanted to open for the 2005 holiday shopping season, but Fenner acknowledges Albemarle Place could be looking at spring 2006 for its first phase.

    If anyone wants to dig through TJPDC’s site to glean information, I would be grateful.

    A couple of links about AP from Albemarle.orghere, here and here.

    In summary, it’s taken way too long to get where they are in the development process. Construction costs and traffic estimates have increased – in some cases dramatically. The answer to UVA08’s question is – “Spring. Probably.”

  10. Brian Wheeler December 14, 2005 at 16:41

    The site plan is under review by Albemarle County and staff have told Charlottesville Tomorrow that, while it is currently on the agenda for discussion at the January 10, 2006 Albemarle County Planning Commission meeting, a deferral is expected. We are tracking this project on the Charlottesville Tomorrow calendar. See:

    I added some pictures and traffic information here:


  11. Jim December 14, 2005 at 17:49

    Thanks, Brian. Those artist renderings show that they plan to most dramatically alter the landscape and viewshed of that area.

  12. TrvlnMn December 14, 2005 at 19:50

    I really wasn’t thinking about a county of Albemarle involvement at all, but was instead thinking about the relationships between private entities, and the potential for imbalance and complexity.

    Perhaps I mis-spoke when I said owners association. I meant condo association- as in the board of volunteer residents that have some say in the decisions with regards to the operation of the condo. If the terminology makes a difference.

    It seemed to me that with the combination of commercial -retail/office vs residential, there might be some issues with regards of “areas of responsiblity” and/or the relationship between the respective management entities.

    I guess it could range from issues as simple as “areas of responsiblity” (snow removal, leaf removal, landscape care) with regards to Condo common property vs commercial property, and then fair division of cost.

    Then say for example if I as a condo owner and board member decide it is against the best interest of my condo association to use the same management, company for the day to day management issues, that oversee’s the commercial/retail units (and keeping in mind that the developer generally retains ownership of the revenue generating assets after the residential units are sold).

    Of course I could be wrong. I’m not familiar as to how commercial/residential combo’s are handled organizationally. So this is just my attempt to make educated guesses within my limited experience and understanding.

    On another note unless the smallest condo is at least a 2 bedroom, I think 300k is just too much to be paying for a condo in Charlottesville. 300k will buy a lot more in a major city than than many people think.

  13. UVA08 December 14, 2005 at 21:15

    If I were a developer I would probably avoid Albemarle because of the long and drawn out process, but that might be what Albemarle is aiming for. If you all were wondering about the growth rate in Albemarle County, its high. How high? After last year’s unofficial population estimates Albemarle ranks above Greene County as the 11th fastest growing county in the state of Virginia. Check out what other areas made the list . The list hasnt been updated since the Charlottesville mistake was corrected so it ranks at the very bottom of the list when it should really be around the middle.

  14. Pingback: Charlottesville Tomorrow Weblog

  15. Pingback: Trader Joe’s is Coming to Charlottesville! |

  16. Pingback: Albemarle Place Site Plan Under Review - Charlottesville Tomorrow