5 Ways Trader Joe’s is Going to be Good (or bad) for Charlottesville

Responding to a discussion on facebook in Cville Food’s stream* in which the question was asked, “is Trader Joe’s going to be good for Charlottesville?”

As with most questions that pertain to real estate estate, the answer to the question is usually, “it depends.”

1 – First, the traffic: The intersection at Hydraulic and 29 is a disaster. I don’t care if you are from northern Virginia and Charlottesville traffic is nothing compared to what you have; traffic there is an abomination. Adding the Whole Foods to the east side of Hydraulic and a Trader Joe’s + a couple million feet of retail surely isn’t going to help. Getting there may be a challenge.

One generation, we might get a grade-separated interchange or a flyover, but I’m not holding my breath (sarcasm intended). “A plan to build an overpass to carry Hydraulic Road over U.S. 29 has been debated for many decades.”

So, plan for more traffic, more congestion, more frustration and more northern-virginia-ification of that part of Charlottesville.


For more context, I’d encourage you to listen to the podcast from June 2010 in which the former Albemarle Place development was described as being “twice the size of Charlottesville’s Downtown Mall.
Regardless, I’m sure another study or twelve will be called for and done, rather than actually improving any infrastructure.

2 – Local shopping and tax revenue: Talk to any of the cashiers at the Trader Joe’s in Short Pump and they will tell you that a significant number of their customers currently come from Charlottesville. Keeping those shoppers local will benefit our localities. But … which ones?

One corner of the Hydraulic Road intersection is in the county (of Albemarle) at the current location of a 7-Eleven store. The other three corners are all in the City of Charlottesville.

Heh. That pretty much sums up the County/City relationship. I wish they could just get along.

3 – Further geographical segmentation of the CharlAlbemarle region – while a lot of people will make the trip to Stonefield Shops (I really wish they’d gone with Ye Olde Stonefield Shoppes) Ã¥ la Short Pump, a lot of consumers will opt for an easier drive to Short Pump; less traffic = more happiness.

Back to Trader Joe’s in Charlottesville:

I think the store in and of itself will be a boon to the region. They’re going to bring jobs, hopefully more locally-sourced foods, thus helping Central Virginia farmers and will satiate a demand that has existed for years. Two of the more common questions my relocating buyers ask are:

a – Do you have fiber? (answer: yes, in limited areas)

b – Do you have a Trader Joe’s? (new answer: hopefully soon)

Update from the excellent Facebook comments at CvilleFood … two major issues I neglected:

“722 retail jobs, 1700 construction jobs are a ton of openings which will help lower the local unemployment rate. This is a huge impact!”


“… Jim talks about some positives and negatives, but surprisingly leaves out the 135-room hotel. This kind of hotel will bring tourists to our area and they will spend their dollars at our local stores/restaurants. A hotel in that location is excellent …”


4 – Environmental impact: I have absolutely no idea how to go about beginning to think about this aspect. More people are staying local, but more trucks are coming to deliver food …

5 – Adjacent residential real estate impact: Mixed bag; some will benefit, some won’t. I predict that those accessible neighborhoods will benefit more than those who don’t. I do think that the Turtle Creek condos will benefit. This is an opportunity for a new urban core in the center of the Charlottesville-Albemarle region. But traffic is going to suck. If the County and City don’t advocate for/demand bike lanes and pedestrian impact, they will be grossly negligent.

Looked at through the lens of simplicity, folks who choose to shop locally should end up spending less on gas.

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Next up: contest regarding the over/under for their opening.

* I’m posting my response here rather than on facebook for two reasons:

1 – They’re my words; I want to own them rather than loan them, interest-free to facebook.

2 – This type of heavily-linked and researched post is impossible on facebook.

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  1. Duane Gran March 11, 2011 at 19:50

    I have no disagreement with the building of any of these stores, but I don’t see how building a hotel brings tourists to Charlottesville. A museum exhibit or effective advertising of our tourist attractions may do this, but I’m not aware of a bed shortage in the town with the obvious exception of a few high profile weekends.

  2. Brian March 11, 2011 at 22:03

    Why do people want to know if we have wool here?

  3. Frank Rojas March 11, 2011 at 23:41

    We have several in Seattle and they are not THAT busy. No more average traffic than a small grocery store.
    Can we get one to come down to Lynchburg??

  4. NYC Contractor March 14, 2011 at 02:04

    There is an advantage as well as a disadvantage of Trader’s Joe’s coming to Charlotesville. I love that it will offer more employment jobs. But with regards to traffic, I hope that will get resolved along the way, maybe they can widen the road or something and strictly implement no smoke belching rules, etc. It’s sad because more cars would mean more pollution.

  5. Anonymous March 14, 2011 at 15:36

    ” Do you have fiber? (answer: yes, in limited areas)”

    Where is residential fiber service available in Charlottesville/Albemarle?
    Who offers it?

  6. doughhead March 15, 2011 at 22:57

    A friend of mine in San Francisco did business with TJ in Northern California. They present themselves as warm and fuzzy, but fact is they are hard nosed with their vendors and I can’t imagine local farmers and producers getting a fair shake from them.

  7. tomr March 27, 2011 at 17:49

    A comment about the hotel- it will not bring tourists. Hotels serve tourists but they are not destinations unless they are a Great Wolf Lodge.

  8. Brandoncollins March 31, 2011 at 01:21

    Trader Joe’s should not be allowed to come here until they end their practice of selling tomatoes and other products picked by slave laborers in Florida. The Coalition of Immokalee Workers and the Student Farmworker Alliance have had great success getting McDonalds, Whole Foods, Taco Bell and Sodexo to sign “fair food” agreements that greatly improve the lives of farmworkers and can end the practice of modern day slavery in the US.
    More info at http://action.ciw-online.org/p/dia/action/public/?action_KEY=4368

  9. Andrew Curley November 14, 2012 at 16:53

    Most importantly, however, prices at Whole Foods have already begun to fall. So don’t forget pricing pressure on other grocery stores

    1. Jim Duncan November 14, 2012 at 16:54

      That is a really great point.

      Please excuse any perceived brevity or curtness. Sent from my iPhone.


  10. Scott November 19, 2012 at 22:53

    The product line at Trader Joe’s is distinct from any other major grocery store. TJ’s brings a whole lot more variety to local consumers than a 4th Kroger or 3rd Harris Teeter or a replacement Giant would.


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