Downtown attire: Demo makes way for Waterhouse

onarch-waterhouseWhere we once got down–- Club 216–- will be coming down this week.

It’s a momentous week for architect Bill Atwood. Five years after he purchased the Water Street Downtown Tire complex of buildings, once home to familiar places like Club 216, Eloise, and Sidetracks Music, it's all coming down this week to make way for his long-planned Waterhouse project, a $20 million, six-story mixed-use complex of offices, retail space, and apartments on top of a parking garage that will span the gap between West Water and South Streets.

“The demolition will definitely change the site,” says Atwood, “but it will become a clean palette on which to finally build the building.”

Originally, Atwood had a vision for a massive pedestrian village, complete with two nine-story towers, an underground parking structure, and a park of sorts that he hoped would “reinvent the block” by rescuing the beauty of the Lewis & Clark building from its isolated perch with a compatible neighbor along the streetscape.

Fours years and a financial crisis later, Atwood is just happy to be getting something built.

Ironically, the same economic forces that have stalled development projects across the country

onarch-waterhouse-renderingThis week's demo on Water Street will make way for this sleek and glassy new structure.

may have helped Waterhouse. When Atwood still had plans to build two Landmark hotel-style buildings on the site, Lehman Brothers went belly up, and Atwood lost his loan for the project, which may have prevented his having three 9-story concrete shells crowding the Downtown skyline.

One of the major selling points of the original Waterhouse design was a high-tech underground parking structure, which Atwood hoped would alleviate, or at least not aggravate, the Downtown parking situation. The current design, however, could end up bringing even more cars downtown. While parking will be located in the first floor of the building, local company Worldstrides with its 200-plus employees is strongly expected to occupy about 45,000 square feet of the building, forcing other tenants and visitors to find spaces on the street or in other parking garages.

“Fundamentally, the world has changed,” says Atwood. “I don’t even know how you could pay for that underground parking idea today.”

Atwood says the clean-up will begin after the demo, and then it’s off to the Board of Architectural Review again for more approvals.

“It’s so difficult to get things done these days,” says Atwood, citing his project, the Landmark, and The Gleason as three fascinating case studies on the state of downtown development: one failure, one apparent success, and one that has taken years to get off the ground. “This project has changed so much. In the long run, it will be interesting to see who wins.”

Read more on: 9-story buildings


Darn Skippy. I am tired of the stupid detour on the street. Big business at it's best hmmm? How many small businesses are taking a beating because o that stupid thing?

But Dave Norris was oh so proud to put a shovel to the ground for the start of construction.

@very old timer, I believe in this situation (and would hope) that whoever is financing the project (some bank) bonds the contractor/developer to ensure completion. I actually would support Council/planning commission only giving approval "if the project were guaranteed to be complete," but then what are the consequences if this fails to happen? I also think many property-rights advocates around here would be very opposed to a government interfering with private construction and development!

Side note, out of curiosity - anyone out there who can answer this: why wasn't Landmark bonded to completion by its financier?

This building looks so ugly. Why do we keep letting ugly buildings happen? Why? If we keep letting buildings like this go up we are just going to look like any other NOVA city. I guess simply making things pays more them making them good. Take my city developers, please(?)

RE:"which Atwood hoped would elevate, or at least not aggravate"

I think you mean "alleviate" instead of "elevate".

I hope the city only gives approval if there is a gurantee of completion within a designated period.

I'm so glad we're not going to end up with massive pedestrians milling about.

Hey Everyone one, Just want everyone to know that Club 216 is still Strong and pumping at its new location at 609 East Market Street In The Old Michie Building!!!! Its such a fun place where anyone can come out and be their self, I love it there!!

One reason there was no completion bond for the Landmark Hotel project was most likely "everyone" drank the same "Kool-Aid" of Halsey Minor being so rich. He fooled lots of people as he spent money on horses, horrible houses and awful art that all had little value compared to cost. In a "bubble" economy ALL assets grow but in a down economy the lousy assets drop in value much deeper than "quality assets". In other words he was TOO BIG TO FAIL but he did. Now his attorneys have all his money. His company left it's headquarters in the middle of the night and cannot be found. He still boasts more than a WWF wrestler. Some quality Virginia Gentleman. He sure isn't loved in California where he still owes $13Million in taxes..what does he owe in property taxes in Virginia?

Good luck Mr. Atwood---you are a very creative thinker and a quality human being.

How is the Gleason a "success"? Check their sold/leased rate. Via means other than their self-reporting. Post results here.

ââ?¬Å?...but it will become a clean pallet on which to finally build the building.”

Should be "palette."

It is UGLY!!

tax parking spaces, more free trolleys.

now that 80's fashion and music and back, it's only fitting that we bring back 80's architecture too. right on i say!

Nice clean lines. I like it. Good to have some contrast to red bricks.

Everybody says that, "good to have some contrast to red bricks" Why? Why is it good to? Sante Fe only allows adobe building and the town is beautiful from every angle, it is sound and complete and has a unified aesthetic. That said I don't mind contrast but what you call clean lines I see as cop out, cheap architecture that looks cheap. If you can create something beautiful that contrasts so be it but if not, it should be red bricks for all feeble minded developers.

yeah! you can be yourself so much that you can get in drunken fights in the middle of market st at 5:00 in tbe morning, smash your bottles everywhere and throw up all over the place. hooray for being yourself! this is, im sure, caused by the minority of club goers, but all the same im sure south st residents are glad to have this early morning nonsense out of their neighborhood.