April 12, 2013
Charlottesville may be getting a large new apartment complex at the corner of Barracks Road and Emmet Street.
The complex would be put on an empty lot at the rear of the Meadowbrook Shopping Centre, which was Charlottesville's first strip mall when it opened in the early 1950's.
The proposed apartments would be five stories tall, with parking on the ground level. They could accommodate about 72 families.
The property owner, Clara Belle Wheeler, says the new apartments would bring new customers to the businesses in the shopping center, many of which have been there for decades.
"All of these local small businesses will get more business because there will be people living right here," said Wheeler, during a tour of the site.
Workers at Anderson's Carriage Food House and El Puerto Restaurant say they agree that the new apartments could help their bottom line.
"That would only increase my business," said Anderson's manager Ted Anderson. "It would probably be graduate students, mostly."
Pablo Avalos, at El Puerto, says the new complex would bring "a lot busier Friday nights."
But the intersection is already a busy part of the city. The Meadowbrook Shopping Centre is across from the Barracks Road Shopping Center, and cars frequently get backed up in the area.
"I'd hate to see my fresh seafood and meat business go down because traffic can't get in and out," said Anderson.
Dick Carpenter comes to Anderson's twice a month to eat po' boys with buddies.
"This is a pretty bad intersection," said Carpenter. "If you're talking about Charlottesville traffic, it's right there at its worst."
Wheeler says she already has a solution for that. She says the families that would live in the new apartments wouldn't drive very much.
"You're walking distance to just about anything that you could possibly want," Wheeler said.
And if they do drive, they would use a new entrance on Emmet Street.
There is a second phase of this proposed plan that would tear down some of the buildings and replace them with apartments with shops on the ground level. Wheeler says the current tenants would have the option to stay in the same location. But she says the second phase won't happen any time soon, if at all.
"They all have long-term leases," Wheeler said. "They're not going anywhere. There is no plan in the foreseeable future to do anything to the building that's already here."
Before any of these apartments start being built, the city council has to approve.
There is a meeting slated for April 17 at 10 a.m. for those in the neighborhood to learn more about the project.
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