Saved for denims: Once threatened, store space revived in steel

Threatened with demolition by various developers including current owner Keith Woodard (who once proposed a nine-story tower featuring an unusual automobile elevator), the row of buildings facing the Jefferson Theater on the Downtown Mall has received new life in recent days– particularly with the March 17 opening of the jean theory: store.

"I've heard people say it looks like it belongs in Georgetown or that it looks French," says denim store owner Laura Van Camp. "If you stand out front, you can hear people oohing and ahhing."

Steel sculptor John Rubino credits plans produced by Gregory Brezinski of the Yorktown-based ARCI firm for providing a historically sympathetic design that includes white marble at the base and Rubino's steel above.

Brezinski, born and raised in Charlottesville before moving away to Tidewater, has returned for several high-profile hometown projects, including the office space renovation of the former C&O depot on East Water Street as well as the design of Monticello High School.

The new home for jean theory:, which sells new-and-used clothes at 111 East Main Street, presented a challenge since none of the archival photos detailed exactly how the storefront looked.

"I'm a firm believer that if you can't honestly replicate it, then don't do it," says Brezinski. "We wanted to do something with a period look that at the same time would tell people it was new."

The blue jean shop joins a dress shop called Verdigris and lingerie store derriere de soie in the row of structures that now seems safe from demolition.


Awful name. Just name it "Jean Theory" and be done with it. No need for the lowercase/colon nonsense.

Shawn. Open your own store and name it what you want. Or just be quiet.

jimi hendrix: You're right. I had forgotten that criticism had been outlawed. I fully apologize and humbly request not to be sent back to the reeducation camp. Criticizing Dave Norris one time was one time too many. I should have learned my lesson.

Gee, this is great for our nuanced city. I also see replication of architecture and oohing-aahing in another "world class city" : Las Vegas. Vegas also has Nordstrom's, Versace and lots of other upscale stores.

Here, there is some fixation on things European equating to sophistication. You know, let's have a vino outside in the square. More off-the-charts pretension from a little town. "Belongs in Georgetown" or "looks French?" Sacre bleu!

Now, I am off to buy $300 pillow cases and an $88 garter belt from some French-named stores in this silly little ville.

R.I.P.: John Banner

Nice job. I would have preferred a much taller building in that block though with an automobile elevator.

They did a wonderful job with the building. Kudos to Keith Woodard.

Charlottesvlle pretentious? Mon Dieu! Hate to break it to our fair city, but only Georgetown is Georgetown. Charlottesville needs to work on being Charlottesville. And it needs to figure out just what that is.

The Downtown Mall is fast becoming a wonderful place not to shop. When blue or other colored jeans start selling for $100 a pair, it is time to consider if we have lost our collective minds. And selling used jeans, not for me don't have any interest in putting my body in pants that someone else may have worn commando.

Any developer who leaves store fronts empty for years while he tries to figure out how to milk the space for the maximum possible personal gain doesn't deserve any kudos. He should be forced to shop only on the Downtown Mall as fair punishment.

And is this whole matter really news or does it belong on Scout or one of the other self anointed arbiters of taste?

Shawn, I don't like the way you spell your name. I prefer "Sean."