Coal Tower Project

Today Seth Rosen of the Daily Progress reported that the City of Charlottesville has given the go ahead to the Coal Tower development project.

“City staff have given preliminary approval to a 315-unit development – spread out over 62 townhouses and four buildings – that will run from about Tenth Street Northeast to Meade Avenue, just north of the CSX railroad tracks. The property’s owner, Dave Matthews Band manager Coran Capshaw, plans to keep the coal tower, site of a notorious double murder six years ago, while adding offices, retail and several restaurants on the 10.7-acre tract.”

“Because it is a by-right development, the project does not have to be approved by the Planning Commission or the City Council. Instead, it just needs a final site plan approval by city staff, which should be granted in the coming weeks. Construction would then likely begin this fall.”

The Coal Tower project “fulfills the city’s goal of clustering high-density, mixed-use development near downtown. The result, city planners and the developer say, will be hundreds more residents who can get to the Downtown Mall for work and recreational purposes without having to use a car.”

“The development will be built in several stages. Residents should begin moving into the townhouses by the end of 2008, with three mixed-use buildings, ranging in height from two to nine stories, opening in early 2009, Baynes said. An eight-story tower and two-story building, along with several more townhouses, will be built at a later date.”

I have some concerns about this project. I love the Downtown Mall, and I love projects that celebrate this area and make it more accessible to citizens. However, the eight and nine story buildings might be “out of scale” for the community because Charlottesville’s downtown area isn’t home to many tall buildings. I’ll give Dave Mathews and company the benefit of the doubt and trust that they’ll do their best to make the buildings “blend in” with the surrounding community.

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