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Mapping the Future of Downtown

By: Michael Gorsegner Email
By: Michael Gorsegner Email

May 1, 2007

Charlottesville city leaders gathered to try to map what the downtown areas of Charlottesville will look like in the coming years.

"I think the Downtown Mall is the soul of Charlottesville," said vice-chair of the city planning commission Jon Fink.

To keep that soul alive, city leaders met tonight to map out how future downtown development should look. If adopted, the mall will be one of five downtown zoning districts, all of which have strategic height and set back requirements for proposed buildings.

"It's not sort of a cookie cutter approach. It's really trying to tailor to those neighborhoods and the quality of the housing and buildings that are there now," said councilman Dave Norris.

"We're trying to take a look ahead one decade, two decades to make sure that we preserve the great elements of the Downtown Mall," Fink said.

Many believe one of the mall's greatest elements is a sunny and airy corridor for pedestrians. For that reason, an advisory committee is recommending changing the maximum height for buildings from 101 feet to 70 feet. Under the modified ordinance, a building could be built higher but would have to go through a city approval process.

"We want to keep it at a pedestrian scale because that's what we are building for and that is the charm of downtown," said Kay Slaughter, a member of the advisory committee.

Throughout the entire process, leaders say they want the dense, urban feel of downtown to intermingle with the rest of the Charlottesville feel.

"We want to make sure that the Downtown Mall stays this real high quality urban core," Norris said.

After a few more small modifications, the planning commission will next take the proposal before a public hearing. The official date is not set for that, however city leaders say they hope it will be some time during the summer.

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