Archive for the ‘Charlottesville’ Category

Charlottesville has been named one of the top ten healthiest cities to live in and retire to by AARP’s magazine. Here is the list of the Top Ten healthiest cities to live and retire to:

1. Ann Arbor, Mich.,

2. Honolulu,

3. Madison, Wisc.,

4. Santa Fe, N.M.,

5. Fargo, N.D.,

6. Boulder, Colo.,

7. Charlottesville,

8. Minneapolis-St. Paul, Minn.,

9. San Francisco Bay Area;

10. Naples-Marco Island, Fla.

The magazine evaluated more than 20 measures for the rankings, including: opportunities for exercise, number of doctors in the area, availability of healthcare, housing affordability, the local economy, educational resources, crime, climate, recreational amenities, and arts and culture.


According to The Daily Progress, State Farm has added a green roof to its regional heardquarters in Charlottesville. State Farm’s 367,000-square-foot building on Pantops will have Creech and Weinstephaner Sedum on a small 1,500 square foot corner of the roof. The green roof will reduce rainwater runoff, cool the building in the summer, warm it in the winter, and increase the longevity of the roof.

A few months ago I berated State Farm for releasing a commercial that poked fun at people riding bicycles to work. It look as though they are using the green roof to clean up the agency’s image among environmentally conscious people. It’s a good start, but I’m not buying it. I don’t know how many levels the State Farm building is, but it seems as though the 1,500 square foot green roof will only cover a small fraction of the building’s roof. I’ll be impressed when they cover at least 50% of their roof.

President George W. Bush will make an appearance at Monticello, Thomas Jefferson’s home, for Independence Day and a naturalization ceremony! Surprise!

Bush’s Monticello visit will be a fourth by a commander-in-chief to Mr. Jefferson’s house. President Franklin D. Roosevelt was the first in 1936, followed by Harry Truman in 1947, and Gerald Ford, who chose to celebrate America’s 1976 bicentennial at the home of the Declaration of Independence’s author on July 5.

Love him or hate him you have to give Bush some credit for his taste in architecture. Monticello is one of the most beautiful buildings in the world as it is a World Heritage Site.

On April 1st I saw a story that Orbit, the pool hall on the Corner, was shutting down. Dave McNair at The Hook reports that the owners of Mellow Mushroom, John Adamson and Andrew Watson, have bought Orbit and plan to turn it into a gourmet burger place. Apparently, the new restaurant/bar will be called The Joint.

The Corner neighborhood in Charlottesville might be on the verge of a major change. According to John Ruscher at a CVS Pharmacy might take over the buildings occupied by Plan 9 Music, Satellite Ballroom (including Higher Grounds Coffee), and Just Curry. Currently the change is a rumor hoovering around local Charlottesville blogs, but the building’s tenants have confirmed that the CVS change has been discussed.

In 2006 Robert Hargett and the Rebkee Company proposed a CVS at the corner of West Main Street and McIntire Road, but the proposal was shot down by Charlottesville’s Board of Architectural Review.

Would these businesses be missed? Coffee drinkers can go to Starbucks, dinners can get Thai food at Lemongrass, and music shoppers can get digital music online. The Ballroom is virtually the only venue on the Corner capable of holding concerts, but if this establishment leaves music fans will can make the trek downtown to listen to live music.

However, does the Corner need a CVS? Currently, there is Cohn’s on the Corner and two hole-in-the-wall mini-marts.

Furthermore, the Corner already has a Q’doba, Starbucks, and Jimmie John’s. The real question is, what kind of businesses do you want to see? Locally owned businesses that make the neighborhood unique or chain stores and restaurants that make the Corner look like every other commercial strip in America.

This is the second part of the Peter Newman video I posted last week. Peter Newman is from Australia and this past semester he was a visiting professor in the Urban and Environmental Planning Department at the University of Virginia. I’ve seen Peter speak several times, and he’s a wonderful speaker. He’s written many books, and his most recent book is entitled, Cities as Sustainable Ecosystems. He’s talked about the peak oil crisis for many years, and he is credited for the term “car dependence.”

Right before Peter left Charlottesville he gave a presentation at Sustainability and Health Symposium at the University. Peter posed the question, “What would Thomas Jefferson think of Charlottesville today?” His question was followed by pictures of heavy traffic, dilapidated bus stops, and disoriented pedestrians.

He pointed out that Charlottesville’s quality of life is tied to transportation. Charlottesville can become a world class city if it can develop a coherent transportation system that alleviates the city’s dependency on cars and provides equal access to socioeconomic opportunities.

Last Friday Jimmy LaRoue of the News Virginian reported that Jim Morris, a Charlottesville investor, is thinking about building a $20 million, 4,000 seat stadium for a minor league baseball team in Waynesboro. The new ballpark would be built along the South River near Constitution Park, and Morris hopes that it will house an affiliate for the Boston Red Sox.

According to LaRoue Morris picked Wayensboro because the city “’sits in the center of a very fast growing triangle of cities’ – Harrisonburg, Staunton and Charlottesville. Those three cities, plus Waynesboro and Augusta County have a combined population of more than 200,000.”

Waynesboro has experienced a population and economic decline in recent decades, and the immediate future is not bright. “The city already faces almost $100 million in debt over the next 20 years and is in the early stages of work on water and sewer infrastructure upgrades.” City officials hope that the stadium could be the economic catalyst that the city desperately needs.

If Waynesboro couldn’t support a movie theater, how are they going to support a minor league baseball team?

According to Seth Rosen at the Daily Progress, a $138 million bus rapid transit (BRT) system might be in Charlottesville and Albemarle County’s future. Last week City councilors and County supervisors agreed to ask the Virginia General Assembly for permission to form a regional transit authority. The regional transit authority would possess the power implement bonds and fees to pay for an expanded bus network.

Officials estimate that it would take $138 million to lay down the asphalt and build the infrastructure required for BRT, and the annual operating cost would be about $10.6 million. The BRT system would have bus-only lanes on Route 29, and it would connect Downtown Charlottesville and the University of Virginia to the northern areas of the county including the airport.

According to Rosen, County Supervisor David Slutzky “is convinced that in the coming years there will be federal subsidies available that could cover most of the bill. As the next administration attempts to lower greenhouse gas emissions, he said, it would be looking to fund improvements to transit systems.”

Jim Bacon, lead-writer for Bacon’s Rebellion, thinks that “BRT might be a good idea for the Charlottesville area: I would like to see an authoritative analysis. But relying upon the federal government for hand-outs is not. If BRT makes sense, the region should find a way for riders, property owners, employers and other beneficiaries to pay the tab. Taxpayers from Dubuque, Iowa, should not pay for Virginians’ regional transportation projects any more than we should pay for theirs.”

Although I am in favor of public transit and I like the idea of BRT, I don’t know if BRT is the best solution for Albemarle/Charlottesville. I’d like to see a feasibility study comparing a BRT network to a light rail system. However, almost anything is better than the current road conditions on 29.