May 14, 2012
They are sprouting up everywhere, an influx of new stores are coming to Albemarle County.
"We are definitely seeing a spike in retail development activity, over the past year or two," explained Mark Graham, the Community Development Director for Albemarle County. The county is looking at plans for a Fresh Market in Albemarle Square, a DSW and a Stein Mart in Shopper's World and three new developments.
Up Route 29 North, near the Charlottesville Albemarle Airport, lies Hollymead Extended.
The 275,000 square feet of retail space under construction, pave the way for about 35 new stores. They'll include everything from a new nail salon, to three national chain stores. Developers will not reveal their names just yet, but say some of the stores should be open by this summer.
The project is an addition to the already thriving development which holds Target and Harris Teeter. The entire project will take about 20 years to complete, but when finished will boast 100 stores, connected by a system of paths and breezeways.
"You can park your car and have access to a number of stores in the same vicinity," explained developer Wendell Wood. "It is more walk-able and that's the transition we've seen." Several miles down the road at the Shops at Stonefield, it's the same story.
"We in the county have been encouraging that form of development which is more of a pedestrian friendly development," said Graham.
On December 1, 2012, Trader Joe's, Pier 1 Imports and a Regal Entertainment Movie Theater, which will include an IMAX screen, will open.
"It's really a nationwide phenomenon a lot more development is becoming more pedestrian oriented ," explained Graham. The idea being, you can park once and have everything you need, shopping, dining and entertainment right in front of you."
South of 29, and up a scenic drive, a third development takes the walking experience one step further.
"It's going to be a really pretty site to walk around," says developer Alan Taylor, with River Bend Management. The site of the new shopping center links to the Albemarle County Trail System.
"If you would like to walk or ride your bike it would be an easy thing to do," said Taylor. The 60 acres of land are still in the rezoning process, but will eventually be home to 20 or more shops.
Graham says he's seen plans to potentially bring a Wegman's to the area, but developers can't confirm the store.
"That's another retail development we are looking to move forward in the next year or so," said Graham. All of the shops should be open by 2015.
"We are going to see Charlottesville become a retail destination," said Timothy Hulbert, the President of the Charlottesville Chamber of Commerce. Right now, the city and county lose shoppers and tax dollars to places like Richmond. The arrival of new stores could turn that number around.
"We can see people from Culpeper, Warrenton, Staunton and beyond spending a day in Charlottesville because they know there are several places to shop," predicts Hulbert.
In Virginia, one cent of every retail purchase goes back to the locality. Therefore, the more money spent in the area, the more money Charlottesville and Albemarle County could get.
The Shops of Stonefield alone is expected to bring 34.6 million dollars in tax revenue to Albemarle County over the next 10 years.
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