Oct. 28, 2013
The Historic Downtown Mall is a focal point of Charlottesville, and a highlight for visitors. After years of planning, one block of the mall has been completely refurbished, and is enticing more and more visitors to the area.
101-111 East Main Street was once home to "The Metropolitan Café" in the 1940's and 50's, and now is home to three retail shops, an event center, and 11 brand new apartments. The building had fallen into disrepair, so much so that the floors were unsafe to walk on.
Keith Woodard of Woodard Properties purchased the property several years ago with plans to develop and rehabilitate it.
"About 10 or 15 years ago another developer purchased the building and proposed to demolish it and put up something else," Woodard said. "We purchased the building in 2003 and saw an opportunity to preserve what was here."
Woodard developed modern store fronts, while maintaining the charm of the original architectural style. Woodard says the state of the building made for a lengthy rehabilitation process.
"It's finally done. There were a lot of challenges in the rehabilitation, you never know what you're going to find, from structural things and changes that have to be made," Woodard said.
One of the changes was adding bottom level to the event center, "Old Metropolitan Hall." Developer Travis Wilburn said the idea for the hall came out of the growing wedding and wine industries in Charlottesville and the surrounding areas.
"This is truly a destination wedding spot, and we get people all the time coming in for wine tours and weddings," Wilburn said. "However nobody catered to the larger rehearsal dinners and smaller weddings. Being right here on the bricks in the epicenter, I thought there was no better spot."
Above the hall are 11 brand new apartments, three of which can be rented out on a nightly basis to wedding guests, part-goers, and weekend visitors as part of "Stay Charlottesville," which Wilburn co-founded.
"Somebody will come in and rent the space, and then rent a couple of apartments for their family who came in for the wedding, and they can be right next door to their wedding venue," said Wilburn.
The remaining apartments are available to rent on a monthly basis. The apartments and "Old Metropolitan Hall" will be open for an open house on Tuesday from 11:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.
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