First view: Designers reveal look for Trader Joe's, Stonefield

Trader Joe's, the specialty grocery chain that has caused ripples of enthusiasm over its impending arrival in Charlottesville, will present a mostly windowless expanse of stone and masonry to the intersection of U.S. 29 and Hydraulic Road, according to architectural renderings released in advance of a meeting of Albemarle County's Architectural Review Board.

Replacing the now-shuttered 7-Eleven store at that high-profile location, the Trader Joe's would serve as one of the anchors of the Stonefield development, a massive shopping center whose planned 14-screen Regal Cinema received criticism– before its eventual approval by the ARB last month– for presenting its own 320 feet of grey stucco further west along Hydraulic.

Originally pitched as a mixed-use community that would have put as much space under roof as two Downtown Malls into its "town center," Stonefield has reportedly won the option to delete its planned housing component.

Most recently, a member of the ARB reviled the overall site plan as "anti-urban" and criticized the design for orienting the Regal cinema's better features toward its parking lots and for attempting, with synthetic stucco and metal panels, merely to "dress up its backside."

The comments, recorded by Charlottesville Tomorrow, noted that the presenting architect countered that perception, arguing that, like Rome's St. Peter's Basilica, the cinema building was "coherently scaled."

Another drawing released in advance of the Monday, August 15 meeting of the ARB shows the main entrance to Stonefield along U.S. 29. Along that busy thoroughfare, Austin-based Nelson Partners have planned copious amounts of stone veneer to provide a gateway to Stonefield's "Main Street."

There, a restaurant called Burton's Grill would occupy the north side. On the south side would stand a glassy two-story retail structure whose exposed wood and streamlined overhanging portico echo design elements from Charlottesville's downtown Transit Center.

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This is another example of development that we do not need. There is already the Hollymead abomination. This shopping center will only increase the horrendous congestion problems along 29 North. I do not believe that we need additional large retail to compete with the small local businesses.

Decades ago, in many places, there used be minimum parking lot shading requirements.
Another goal of landscape architecture, LOTS of places, was to obscure pavement and sheet metal
which is UGLY.

There are already a number of empty storefronts along 29, and Albemarle Square is beginning to resemble a ghost town. Joni Mitchell's plaintive warning has come to Charlottesville - " they paved paradise and put up a parking lot."

Sadly, we as citizens have blinded ourselves to the reality that we have elected officials that have only an ear for the development community. We have only ourselves to blame.

And look at where the jobs for these projects are going - out of town. One need only look at the massive Meadowcreek Interceptor Project, awarded to a New Jersey Company with a primarily non local workforce. The local businesses will be forced out by this development, and the mega companies, that push down wages and benefits will reap the rewards.

Time for new elected officials who will look our for our citizens and not just a fast buck for their friends that bring more traffic, higher taxes and lower wages to our area.

Be assured, the reason this project was approved was because of the sales taxes it will generate for Albemarle County, filling the budget holes that would otherwise result in higher taxes or service cuts. However you feel about it, the design's inherent lack of a 'community' feeling with walking/bike access vs. Northern Va automobile dependence as now planned, is solely due to the combined and aligned greed of the County and the Developer to maximize profits/tax revenues.

Well, if they were going for the "Nouveau-mausoleum" look, they sure got it right.

There is no chance it will end up looking like that. Perhaps we need a refresher of what they promised Hollymead would look like...and what it ended up looking like.

Pedestrians walking to complex from 29? Yea, thats going to happen.

You know Charlottesville is turning into a DC suburb when the grocery stores start looking like 60s/70s-era governmental and administrative buildings. This building (Trader Joes) is hideous. I can appreciate the use of stone (i.e. Stonefield), but the subtle references to JC Penny/Belk architecture is a bit too much. That being said, the rest of the buildings in this complex look fantastic. Sorry Trader Joes, you got the shorted on this one....

I moved here from the Los Angeles area 20 years ago to get away from exactly this sort of thing. While Trader Joe's was & is a great store and many here will be thrilled to have one, the outside of this building looks like bad 1970s San Fernando Valley Dept. store.

I would BEG the ARB et al, to reconsider allowing this sort of architectural design. This will be as dated looking to everyone in 10+ years as Circuit City is now.

The great charm & strength of C'ville & this county area is when it remains true to its historic flavor. Even the Martha Jefferson Hospital found a way to blend in with the landscape and use stone, glass & wood in a more appealing way.

The UVA hospital white monstrosity should have been enough of a lesson.

Please change this design, and let everyone enjoy Trader Joe's!

Maybe if the "local" businesses would actually sell a product that people wanted there would be more of them and they would last longeer. Little specialty boutiques do have their place but let's get real, people want the Dillards, Macys, etc.. As for the movie theater, let's just hope they offer decent parking that is well lit, a main reason why I avoid the downtown theaters. And while on the subject of theaters, how about a true community theater that has a decent proscenium stage, orchestra pit and decent wing space, fly space, etc.

I like and I live next to it, please hurry up so I can go shopping in a good mall

SOOooo tired of all the crappy old stuff here!

come on bypass!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

"Burton's Grill" will be a Romano's Macaroni grill location. No Olive Garden yet for Cville.

Longtime Local, how DARE you!!! If you're not sending your toddler to yoga classes, buying flavored popcorn or overpriced lingerie then you obviously don't DESERVE to live in Charlottesville!! Why don't you take your bourgeois need for food, clothing and shelter out to the county and leave the bars and boutique shops to those that deserve to stay in Charlottesville.

We ought to build a wall around Charlottesville to keep these undesirables out!! Only those that can survive on top shelf vodka and sushi should be allowed to stay.

Dee- I would guess that regardless of what happens in Charlottesville you are far ahead of the life style in the LA basin, as it is the LA basin.

Alexander Salomon- our wonderful Federal Government government already competes with small business, on an entirely different level. The small businesses of which you have concern are not concenrned with their "namesake" competition, but with the competition from the "Federales".

Meanwhile- you are correct! You don't have to build a wall around Charlottesville. I always wanted one of those over rated Jefferson cups..............;)

Sorry, HarryD, small business does not say "Shop Federal Gov't", they say Shop LOCAL, not at the big box stores. Nice attempt at trying to be partisan here.

c'mon c'mon and build it! I can't wait. I got me a brand new credit card thats on fire and the Hummer is fueled and ready to go! I got me a storage unit to hold all my other stuff to so I'm ready to bring home more! YEEE HAAA!!!!

Hey, I want more info on the companies whose wages and benefits will be pushed down by those dastardly mega companies. Most local companies around Charlottesville offer crap wages which I have always found contradictory to the high cost of living in Charlottesville and Albemarle.

there isnt enough money or people to support this crap. They will be bankrupt in a matter of years.

So many locals now shop in Waynesboro, Zion Crossroads and Short Pump. If someone feels he doesn't need or want the new stores, avoid them.
@ImFree , how did "partisan" get in here?

Why do they always promise new and expanded sales tax revenue? Building another strip mall just pries sales away from the other strip malls. The new mall ism't going to increase our population (just the traffic jams at 29 and Hydraulic!)

Amigo1, we do a lot of shopping at Short Pump, Tysons, and online. If there were better stores close by, we would use them - ergo, more sales tax for Albemarle County.

Perhaps they'll demolish that for the Bypass. Wow. 1962 derivative. The best thing you can say about it is that it's not a Butler building. Sheesh. You mean someone actually got paid for that "concept"???

Trader Joe's facade on that corner is going to be a zillion times nicer than that ratty old 7-eleven! Embrace the change!!!!!!

How about some intelligent design, anyone?

Why don't people that want to live in Fairfax just go back there?

That building is hideous. There is just no two ways about its. I'm all for modern architecture, but that rendering looks like something Mussolini would have ordered to be built. It just isn't appropriate for that location or this time period.

Look at slide 3. It is a grid with parking behind the buildings, as it should be. The Mussolini facade on Trader Joes is smaller than it looks. It is not the corner of a big shopping mall, it is one stand-alone shop where the 7-11 used to be.

Looks like Virginia Tech's campus to me.

Fits in perfectly here at: The University of Northern Virginia at Charlottesville.

That is one terrible-looking building. "Mausoleum" is an apt description.

I can't that lady taking her son to see grandpa's grave or she trying to buy some black licorice scottie dogs...?

The building aint exactly one to get your loins throbbing, but then what building along 29 is, or even should be expected to be? Lining the Trader Joe's Tomb up in a beauty pageant with the half-vacated wasteland of Circuit City, the defunct Western Sizzlin' ghost lot, the Kmart parking sargasso, any of the choke-and-puke buffet troughs, the car lots, the Stellar One Defoliated Zone, the gas stations, fast food joints, and all the cars, Cars, CARS!!!, it's kinda hard to decide which one is in most need of getting a paper bag shoved over its head. But what do we reasonably expect? Architecture is something that happens in other places, where infrastructure aint done on the cheap. This hear is the south, and our buildings are all guppy face, trouty mouth, froggy lips.

Look at all three slides. I agree that slide 1 looks horrible, but 2 and 3 look like your typical upscale, lots-of-windows, pseudo-eco-friendly shopping center -- much like Short Pump or the new Whole Foods. Whether you like it or not, this new shopping center will follow the same trends.

This is so ugly!! I agree with many others that have posted here, we have PLENTY of open storefronts in Cville that can be used. There is no reason for this type of monstrosity to be built. We are supposed to be a "green" community now a concrete community. Who wants to spend there time and money in such an ugly thing, are you kidding me? And to the traffic problem buzz, isn't this just another minuplation tactic for those that line their pockets off the bad planning decisions in this city and county.

Imfree- Are you in business for yourself? I do hope that you said that in jest. It was an analogy toward the Federal regulations and tax structure that a small business (as well as large ones) must deal with when in business.

Architectural ugliness seems to have sunk to a new low.

I think if Grandma got run over by a reindeer coming home from our house Christmas eve, me and Grandpa would never bury her in this mausoleum.

South of hydraulic road TJ stands for Thomas Jefferson and architecture with taste, north it appears TJ will mean Tacky Junk.

Gee, I didn't realize Trader Joe's built maximum security prisons too.

@ JG...hahahahahahahahahaha!

Trader Joes rocks! It will do great business. I honesty don't think it looks that bad.

Can't help but think it is more attractive than a 7-11.

But less attractive than a grade-separated interchange.

No one is asking you to shop there. It's about time we get some decent places to shop in this area. I'm tired of trekking to SP, fairfax and the boro. It would be nice to keep my money local. As for the small businesses, perhaps they should get with the times and five the people what they want.

And the Boro? Greensboro? WTF are you talking about, Jane?

Yeah, it's ugly, folks. Looks like a mausoleum.

Shopping is a stupid activity and everyone who recreationally shops at these shopping centers should find something better to do with their time. If you can't find something locally or on the web you most likely don't need it and certainly don't need to drive to Short Pump or DC for it. Also, the word architecture doesn't apply to Mcmansions or shopping centers. This project is going to SUCK.

Notice they deleted the housing component which had been proposed as a bone thrown to the new urbanism concept, so now they can just go with the standard paradigm. With all the vacant storefronts and the trend for people to shop online, the only way this development will work is by stealing tenants from existing shopping centers. Of course what can a poor developer do except what he's always done...develop 'till ya drop. This will be a colossal flop and there will be defaults galore on the financing side, but the crooks who run things will succeed in absconding with some of the revenue stream in their pockets, which is what it's all about. These things are almost like 19th. century mining operations in the west where promoters would spin a wondrous fable of "El Dorado" somewhere in the mountains and get investors in the East and England to put up money. They'd put in mine works, but the mine would yield minimal returns, close eventually and leave the investors with nothing. Just another variant on the "pump and dump" method of fleecing the credulous. Charlbemarle will get stuck with yet another expanse of useless desolation and even more traffic snarls. It'll be interesting to observe the long term progress of this latest boondoggle, but my take is the promoters will bail before the whole thing is fully built out...

Yet, for all the criticisms, the proposed building looks better than nearly all the brick " just add white trim and columns" sheds erected at UVa over the last 20 years- and lets include the hideous remodeling of the "parapet" pav.

It is butt ugly.

The best part is the people walking along Rt 29 in the architect's fantasy rendering. Yeah, that's realistic. Among the many worthy locations, this is the primary intersection I avoid in Charlottesville for it's continued reliance on accretive asinine arterial asymmetry to delay and detain its doomed drivers. I can't imagine the apocalyptic circumstances that would have had to unfold to find me walking along Rt. 29 to do my faux-gourmet grocery shopping. Now we can safely add Trader Joes to the corporate visitors in Cville who have completely abdicated their urban planning responsibility and influence. Right next to Whole Foods. Hooray for America!

I dig Trader Joe's, lived off their stuff in my grad school days in Cali, but that looks nothing like a place I want to go to get food. Looks like it belongs out at Tysons corner up in NoVA. I know it has lots of company for that look on 29 but can't we get something that blends with the regional architecture, some brick or wood instead of that grey stucco siding??

perhaps it should be modeled after the Trader Vic's motif.

@Angel Eyes
You make some very good points about the development and I too see the vultures circling even at this stage.

The 14-screen Regal Cinema seems to be another element that puts punctuation marks on this boondoggle. Does anyone really want to suffer in 29 traffic so you can sit through 30 minutes of previews, commercials and rude people to see a movie that will be out on Netflix soon? Movie theaters have two things going for them: Big Screen and seeing a movie soon after it comes out. Neither of which I care about as I am still waiting for the last Harry Potter to come out on Netflix so I can watch the last two back to back at home. Oh and food someone might state! No, the only theater that serves food is the Commodore Theater in Portsmouth, Virginia where you can get dinner and a glass of wine with the movie. And just like technology made the need for newsreels obsolete, technology again will eventually make the need for the artificially controlled delivery of movies to theaters obsolete as more people continue to vote by spending their dollars elsewhere. Which is why theater revenue is in decline and the answer is not 14-screens! LOL Probably inside of ten years the 14-screens will be just like the Barracks Road Theater.

it looks hideous

HarryD <>

I certainly may be far ahead of the lifestyle in the LA basin, but its unfortunately quickly catching up!

There is a way to have all the wonderful things without compromising the quality of life and beauty of the area - the primary reason everyone wanted to live here! Destroying scenic beauty, covering blue skies & mountain views, and making heinously out-of-place "modern" strip malls & other structures with no regard for their aesthetics or the massive traffic flow problems, C'ville will fast have all the same problems that LA or NYC and other metro areas have.

As I said before, what everyone thinks looks "modern" or "cool" today, they will think looks like a dated, lame embarrassment in a decade.

I say, hooray for the things coming to this corner, but please design it in some gorgeous fashion with some Shenandoah stone, wood, lovely up-lighting and blending into the landscape. :)

It's all about the 1% sales tax that is paid to the locality. Right now, people in Albemarle shop in Charlottesville and it is the City that gets our money. This is on top of the $20 million that Charlottesville takes from us under revenue sharing.

It's time for us to fight back and have county money spent in the county to benefit the county. We also have proven that we manage things better. WE don't have a government that is a patronage machine and the employer of last resort for hundreds of employees who guaranty the Democratic party a lock on every election. It infuriates us that our sales tax payments are used to support that kind of corrupt government.

So, Stonefield is a great addition to our area and we need it badly. It is time for Albemarle to assert itself and this is just one piece of the puzzle.

I am not sure why all the concern- the business builings next to this place look the same. Perhaps some of you would like the on the front to say "Trader Blows"..............

Countyite: Stonefield will steal some sales from the city (Barracks Road center) but it will hurt Fashion Square mall much more severely.

That is the ugliest plan for Trader Joe's building. It looks like a Federal Building. Not at all Charlottesville!

Okay, so it looks like something Mr. Brady from the Brady Bunch designed. I have learned to expect weirdness with most of our building projects.

Yeehaw! I'm movin on up......bye-bye Super-max Walmart, hello Trader Joe's!

"Is that a moat, Greg?"

I thought that this was the plan that was rejected? It's definitely not very attractive, but I have to admit that I am so excited for TJ's to come that I can't get too worked up about it. It's such a great affordable alternative to the Whole Foods machine.

I agree that it looks like a federal building, though. Would it kill them to add some windows or colors?

Federal Bldg? Must be one of those "shovel ready" projects..........

Well now we can choose where to pay our sales taxes. Does the city get them or the county. Guess who will win? Who has easy access? Who has easy parking? Who has jazzy resturants? Who is new and exciting? Who is considered fun and upscale? Who has panhandlers?

Well, I'd like to say it won't affect me, because since these sales taxes aren't going to go to CAT, and the busses aren't likely to get anymore regular, I'm going to avoid waiting 20 minutes for the 7 that was supposed to come in 5 and just stay downtown, where I can get around without a car.

But it will affect me. Because it will speed up the process of putting the few local businesses that cater to those of us who are trying to live local - not buy flavored popcorn - out of business. To those (Longtime Local) who complain that the downtown doesn't cater to them, I think you're blaming the egg for the chicken. If you weren't driving out to the edge of town to shop, real downtown businesses wouldn't have struggled, gasped, and sputtered out of business.

I'm sort of disgusted by the argument that at least this theater will have well lit parking which is why one poster above (Longtime Local) "avoids the downtown theaters." Try walking - it saves you having to park. If we put 1/10th of the money we put into roads, highways and traffic control into transit - better busses, perhaps an actual trolley on tracks that didn't have to contend with congestion, bus lanes, bike lanes, etc - we might not think of good parking as the be all end all virtue of good planning.