Wait's over: Wood's Northtown site work begins

cover-woodportraitDeveloper Wendell Wood.

What's going on across from Kegler's on Route 29, you ask? Well, developer Wendell Wood is at it again, breaking ground on yet another development.

This one is called Northtown Center, a 190,000 square-foot complex of commercial and retail space on 16 acres, which was approved by the Albemarle County Planning Commission last June. Wood says the site will be anchored by a StellarOne bank, a Country Inns & Suites hotel, and a restaurant to be named later.

Wood originally wanted to bring a Home Depot to the site, but County planners nixed that idea over "critical slopes" issues, including concerns about burying a stream, a decision Wood tried to overturn by filing a lawsuit.

Eventually, however, Wood came back with the Northtown plan, which was approved after he agreed to protect the stream and install redundant systems to control stormwater and sediment that might affect the nearby Carrsbrook neighborhood.

In the end, Wood claims, Northtown will actually have more total square-footage than the Home Depot would have.

Once again, Wood's legendary patience seems to have paid off. Much of the land Wood owns along Route 29 was accumulated over decades, acre by acre, but the land across from Kegler's has a special significance.

"I bought my first piece of land there in 1961, for three-thousand dollars," says Wood. "And now it's just beginning."


–Photo taken on May 21 and added on May 25.


What a fabulous asset to the community this gentleman is. Just look at all of the beautiful structures along 29 North.

Awesome, we needed some more of that on 29 north!!!!

Is this where the Olive Garden in going in?

VITO----OHHHH I HOPE SO...WE LOVE Olive Garden!!!!

More all you can eat buffets and a Super Dollar General are what we need!! A drive in church with a big screen would be nice too. Lord knows we've been waiting too long to get one here. And somebody ought to put in a plus sized clothing store. I eat half a grapefuit every morning and cleanse/detox one a week, but I keep putting on the pounds somehow.

I can't believe we're getting a big pile of crap instead of a Home Depot. I had to drive to Waynesboro Sat to pick up something Lowes doesn't carry. Our Lowes is one of the worst I've ever been in and an HD nearby might provide the competition necessary for our Lowes to get its act together.

You people are kidding about the Olive Garden, right? You do know that we have some excellent Italian restaurants here already?

Wendell Wood filed suit because he wanted to flout critical slopes and destroy a stream. If that doesn't tell you everything you need to know about the man in a nutshell right there...

Disgusted, Why would the Albemarle planning commission give a hoot about vacancies on the DTM? The city is a separate municipality and, judging from many of the comments on many Hook and other blogs, city residents often feel the city should not act in the county's best interest.

Perhaps if there was greater cooperation between the city and county there would be better coordination of the urban planning. Until that happens, you can expect both municipal gummints to act unilaterally, unless it is mutually beneficial to do otherwise.

Hey Pablo Cruise, my family lived in New Jersey for generations and I can assure you, not everybody there is an ill-bred money-grubbing bully of the type you're bragging about.

Here's a newsflash for you since you seem to have serious comprehension problems: Charlottesville VA ISN'T New Jersey. Apples and oranges, sweetie. People actually do things differently in different parts of the world.

It's not an authentic Italian joint enless somebody gets whacked.

Thanks skedaddle, that was my point, although I made it poorly.

Pablo (along with his pal Wendell) is a prime example of a certain type of crass American arrogance and short-sighted thinking. I bought it, it's mine MINE, and I'll destroy it if I want to! And then greedy consumers buy into it with their lust for faster chemically-laced food and cheap rags made in third-world sweatshops.

At no point is any thought given to the bigger economic or environmental picture. When you have a vacuum between your ears, it's hard to understand concepts like stewardship and community responsibility.

reality and skedaddle. It is my opinion that it is you two that are short sided.

1) this is America and if you own land you do have rights to do with it what you want within the confines of the law. Just because you don't like it does not make it illegal.

2) If you bury a stream (run it thru a cement pipe) as opposed to protecting it with physical buffers that could easily fail over time then you are taking an unessasary risk. Putting it undergound protects it forever. (there is zero chance of runoff while the water travels thru the pipe.) This is a reasonable solution that allows the OWNER of the property to exercise his LEGAL rights. Also, the darkness can cool the water on a summer day and warm it on a winter day thru geo thermal convection.

3) The zoning people in the area waste immnese amounts of time fighting small battles that will make no difference instead of looking ahead to write laws that will protect the watershed for decades. The way they do things now is akin to picking up change from the ground while 100 dollar bills fly through the air.

4) I stand by my assertion that Albemarle is ripe for skilled developers who have played in more adversarial environment to come down here and hand them their ass in a hat using experienced lawyers who know how to navigate the law like Britney in a McDonalds drive through. Monticello High has a great football team but they cannot win against the Phildelphia Eagles.

5) It probably does not go unoticed by most readers that you don't comment on my statment about people like YOU putting your money where your mouth is and buying the property yourself. It is not the responsibility of private individuals to pay for land, pay property taxes on it and then let it sit undeveloped so that YOU can see trees instead of a building. The land WILL be developed at some point anyone with a lick of sense knows that. The stream needs to be protected and Mr wendells rights need to be respected.

6) You inability to understand any of what I have just written does not make you right.

skedaddle and Reality Check, why are you ignoring our local governments' proposal to bury several streams and clear-cutting 54,000 trees in order to build the new Ragged Mountain Reservoir? Is it more fun to rag on a developer rather than participate in your local governance? BTW, why aren't you complaining that most of Pollock's Creek in the city is culverted?

1) the critical slopes crap is crap is correct which is why there are law suits contesting the junk science behind it all over the country. The same goes for busrying streams.

2) Riparian rights are well established in our legal system.

3) there is no law against affecting a stream on your property. It is legal to displace tadpoles the same as it is to displace poison ivy. The only thing that should legally matter is that the water quality and velocity leave similar to how it entered. Anything else is a moral responsibilty and government should keep its nose OUT. If you choose not to eat at olive garden because of the culvert that is your right. That is the extent of it though.

4) The "law" needs to be strengthened to protect landowners from people like you who have nothing more than an emotional dog in the fight and are willing to stop a man from his constituional right to make a living.

5) the "law" needs to be written in no uncertain terms and ajudicated so as to spell out how far ALL parties can go so that developers, tree huggers and government cowboys cannot usurp the system for their own agenda. The problem comes in when government the rules are left vague by all parties so they can let the lawyers game the system.

6) My main point is that Mr Wood, (who I do not know)has rights and that society has rights, and it is unfair for him to have to cow tow to the whims of people who bow to pressure from the likes of people like YOU.

7) There are plenty of other properties for sale.. probably at a good price.. why don't you pony up ansd save them from development? Then you can mosey down by the streeam and try and convince the deer not to poop in the watershed.

Cville Eye-- you'll find no more vociferous critic of either the water plan OR our local government, especially at NDS. I'm a staunch defender of anyone or anything I see getting crapped on, and that goes for individuals, neighborhoods, our heritage, green spaces, our wallets, or the environment. But if you scroll to the top of the page, you'll see that the topic is Wendell Wood's latest abomination, NOT Ragged Mtn, which I've written about at length elsewhere.

I think that developers like Wood and Hurt are in a great position to take the lead in sustainable sane development. God knows they're both richer than Croesus, and could easily do so. But they haven't and they won't. Look at the recent fuss Hurt kicked up over a few affordable units in his proposed Pantops development, even after the fools in the Planning Commission let him slide on the critical slopes stuff. Instead, they both inflict crap development on the county-- acres of impermeable surfaces, heat islands, and the fugliest "architecture" around. It's their right to do it, just as it's my right to despise their greed, short-sightedness, and chronic aesthetic blundering.

C'ville Eye, if you look up towards the top of the page, you will see an article which started this comment thread. Nothing in that article mentioned the Ragged Mountain Reservoir. I think building the reservoir is a patently absurd proposal. To suggest that someone else in this conversation isn't opposed to it because no one but you has mentioned it so far an absurd non-sequitur. Same goes for your Pollock"s Creek question. It also doesn't follow that past mistakes excuse future mistakes.

pablo, your response is so illogical it's hard to figure out where to start. You are still advocating both adhering to an ignoring the law. There are loads of laws and regulations pertaining to any number of aspects of development. The critical slopes regulation is one of them. Its purpose is to protect streams. You know it exists, but seem to deny its existence.

I'd like to respond to more of what you've written, but you're going to have to help me by making a bit more sense. You could start with some resources to help me understand the "junk science" and explain some of those riparian rights that you referred to. Once we can get to some issues that exist outside of your head, I'll be glad to converse a bit more. Maybe, just maybe, you will treat us to an explanation of why laws written "in no uncertain terms" need adjudication and share some more of your ideas about legislation from the bench, one more thing you seem to both approve and disapprove of.

Thanks, Reality Check, for your clarification. It adds validity to your position.

Realtiy Check, my sentiments exactly! Rights always come with responsibilities in civilized society and there is no reason why development can't be done responsibly. There is simply no alternative in the long run.

heyzeus, I am not advocating adhering to and ignoring the law at all. It is my opinion that people have gone overboard with what rights society has over an individuals regarding property that that individual pays for (including title fees and property taxes)

It is my opinion that the Governments right to what happens to a stream as it travels through private property is none of their business. If I own a piece of property and build a twelve foot wall all the way around then the governments right is limited to measuring the water quality and velocity as it enters and compares it where it exits. If it is not polluted or changed then they need to stay the hell out of my business. If I choose to capture it, spray it from a fountain or make a pond that has no effect beyond my borders then LEAVE ME ALONE.

I stand by what I said. The laws have been written to cater to tree huggers and anti development nuts and the developers grease enough wheels to make it so theat they can be gotten around by use of the courts. This is a common political ploy. It is no different than Obama not seeking prosecution of the bush lawyers who liked torture, but not stopping it either. He wins politically and get what we all know he really wants. The politicans write laws that appease the voters and make them convuluted enough for the developers to circumvent and win in court. Everybody loses . The tree huggers lose, the developers waste immnese amount of money that could be used for proffers that could actually improve the environment and the government WASTES millions of taxpayer money running the three ring circus.

If tree huggers would learn to respect property rights and demand Ironclad laws then the developers wouldn't fight a battle they could not win and we could lay off a crapload of people, have REASONABLE restrictions which would guarantee water quality and spend our time planning development instead of playing catch up all the time.

Dude, can i get $3,000?

Actually, been pretty cool if it had been a Home Depot to get some competition with Lowe's going. But now, just another friggen hotel, bank, and resturaunt. Whoop de do....

Is this the same Wood that had 29 covered with clay a few years back as his run-off control failed where his moonscape con-struction was occuring? If so, then yeah he'll need those "redundant systems" since he doesn't seem to get it right the first time.

It seems that Ken Boyd is the only Supervisor that speaks about locals shopping else where and how that may affect taxes in the future.

"In the end, Wood claims, Northtown will actually have more total square-footage than the Home Depot would have." See what happens when the elitists have a knee-jerk reaction to big boxes? I guess we'll have to wait until Greene County or Louisa puts in one.

Another bank?? Another hotel?? We need something new like Home Depot, Olive Garden, Cracker Barrel, or Bob Evans.

"Another bank?? Another hotel?? We need something new like Home Depot, Olive Garden, Cracker Barrel, or Bob Evans." Yes, there's a lot of tax money in all of them and people need real estate tax relief around here.

If the C'ville area could get an Olive Garden and, more importantly, a Costco, it would be that much closer to perfection. Oh yeah, add some airline service at CHO too (real airline, not midget,i.e. commuter, airlines with jumbo airfares and lousy service).

What Italian restaurants in Charlottesville are excellent? I'll admit I haven't tried Palladio yet but I'm pretty sure I've hit the rest multiple times.

My point is that restaurants like Palladio, Vivace, Il Cane Pazzo, etc-- the locally owned ones that don't rely on chemicals to create flavor in their food-- are superior to Olive Garden any day of the week.

It's disheartening to see people drooling over chemically-enhanced chain restaurant crap, when we already have so many restaurants per capita in Charlottesville.

Don't want to highjack this thread to discuss the merits of Italian food, but am saddened that otherwise sane folks would give Wendell Wood a pass because they want all-you-can-eat MSG-coated breadsticks.

"Wendell Wood filed suit because he wanted to flout critical slopes and destroy a stream. If that doesn’t tell you everything you need to know about the man in a nutshell right there"

I call BS. The "critical slopes" crap is just another way of the government telling a private land owner what to do. He did not want to0 "destroy" anything.

He went to court because they overstepped their boundaries in protecting the stream.

The government should not be able to tell a private citizen that he has to wear 5 condoms.

You people in C-ville are amatuers. I come from Jersey, Wendell wood is a boy Scout compared to the goings on up there. Somebody else would have bought that land and railroded whatever they wanted by using the courts ands outmanuvering the babes in the woods that THINK they are powerful.

I second. pablo cruise, please do go back to Jersey! It obviously suits you better, so we'd have a clear win-win situation.

"I come from Jersey"

Why don't you go back?

And FYI...

"including concerns about burying a stream, a decision Wood tried to overturn by filing a lawsuit."

I'm pretty sure "burying a stream" is the same thing as destroying it.

Would have loved to have seen a Home Depot there though.

I agree with Reality Check. Commercialized Italian food such as the food served at Olive Garden is a mockery of both Italian dishes and culture. I would rather see a Bahama Breeze put in there instead if that was the case. It's owned by the same parent company and at least has decent drinks to accompany the renown mediocre food.

If the county was concerned about streams and critical slopes, why are they supporting the proposal Ragged Mountain? Why are you?

Having driven into town down 29N from DC for many years , I have to say that 29N is a horrible "welcome" to Charlottesville in comparison to coming into town from any other direction. Build a park, provide a permanent home for the farmers market or build a wind farm. For heaven's sake we do not need any more restaurants, shops or big box stores there (Look at all the empty stores on the Wachovia block of the Downtown Mall) What are you thinking of by approving this?

" For heaven's sake we do not need any more restaurants, shops or big box stores there (Look at all the empty stores on the Wachovia block of the Downtown Mall)..." 2 of the 4 buildings seem to be vacant. You may not need them but I'm sure there are a lot of unemployed people who do.

Reality check...

exactly my point... people do things different in other places and you folks here better hope that the new jersey developers don't put their sights on this place... the laws are weak and they will run roughshod over the laws like mike tyson would over erkle.

also "burying" a stream for a couple of hundred yards protects it FOREVER from run off where protecting it with buffers etc that could fail is far more risky.

He does have rights. He sacrificed and worked his whole life to buy properties and he deserves the rewards of his hard work.

Maybe if all you crybabies who hate development land pooled your starbucks money for a year you could buy some land and let it sit there and look pretty forever while you complain about the lack of jobs, shopping options, or the traffic getting up to earlysville to get to target.

I would bet BIGGGGG $$$$$$
An Olive Garden would be a BIG success.
What is going on??? POLITICS??? OUR LOSS, as I hear it.

I'll agree with Pablo.The zoning laws in Albemarle Co. are weak and a JOKE.

pablo doesn't even make a sensible point. He is complaining that the laws are weak and simultaneously complaining that they stopped someone from doing what he would have done if the laws weren't there. Hardly seems to me that the law can be both too restrictive and not powerful enough. Not too surprising from someone who thinks burying a stream somehow protects it.

Pop Quiz -- does anybody really recall the politics behind Charlottesville NOT having a Home Depot? I am willing to bet 99% of the local population doesn't know the real reason.


"1) this is America and if you own land you do have rights to do with it what you want within the confines of the law." The sensible among us would all agree with that. But, you don't even seem to agree with yourself. Recall your earlier statement: "The ââ?¬Å?critical slopes” crap is just another way of the government telling a private land owner what to do." The critical slopes "crap" is the law. Selective anarchy? Maybe you've got a new movement there.

There isn't space here to educate you about the subject of your #2. You can obviously read. I suggest you start here. It's a document about recovering formerly culverted streams. http://www.rmi.org/images/other/Water/W00-32_Daylighting.pdf Page 7 discusses benefits and motivations.

3) Agreed, the zoning people in Charlottesville are idiots and the City Council are willing to destroy McIntire park and sacrifice its stream in the process.

4) "navigate the law like Britney in a McDonalds drive through." ??? Some sort of New Jersey folk wisdom? So what I think you are saying is that we need much more restrictive and powerful laws to keep developers from destroying the beauty of Central Virginia and turning it into another New Jersey. Well, you are right on target there!!

5) I'm not sure the property is for sale although from what you've written, it is now owned by a Mr. Wendell rather than Mr. Wood. That is the reddest of red herrings anyway. We have all agreed (one of your personalities at least) that owners have rights and solid, powerful laws that define and limit those rights need to be in place. Seems like that process is working to some extent, but as you wrote, we need to strengthen the law to keep more junk development from happening in the future.

6) The difficulties you have in expressing coherent thoughts don't make you right.