City Balances Growth And History

By: Lindsay Puccio
By: Lindsay Puccio

June 21, 2006

City officials are working hard to balance the need for new developments with the need to preserve history. Some historic buildings around town are being turned into housing. Officials say it is really difficult to find a happy medium between preserving the land and also keeping up with the growth in the area.

"We certainly don't want to erase our past as we move towards the future," said Kevin Lynch, a city council member.

That is a tough task since growth is expected in the city of Charlottesville, and developers are eager to build. One developer is eying three homes on Wertland Street that would be condemned if it weren't for their historic value. Fred Wolf's job is to make sure this type of move is right for the city.

"It's not only meeting the zoning ordinance, but also has a sensitivity to it's surrounding context, and not just to other things that effect development such as bottom line and profit," said Fred Wolf.

In order to preserve the land, the chairman of the Board of Architectural Review, Fred Wolf, wants developers to think bigger and taller rather than spread out. Quite a few of developers have done just that. On Tuesday the BAR approved a 9-story building that will sit on top of the Downtown Service Center.

"What the goal is, is to be an attractive place, to be a good place to live for as many people as possible," said Lynch.

City officials believe this is one of the ways to keep the historic Charlottesville charm as the city welcomes new people and more money into the area.

"It can mean more economic development for the city and that's good, increasing our tax base is good," said Lynch.

Downtown Service Center isn't the only nine story building that will be built in the city. Officials says more than a handful of multiple story buildings should be approved by the BAR and City Council soon.

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