Presto, chango: Kuttner wants to make cars vanish

Last Tuesday night, the always ebullient developer Oliver Kuttner breathed some life into the normally staid proceedings of the Board of Architectural Review, floating an idea to "make cars disappear" on South Street.

"I want to show the City what can be done," said Kuttner, "and make cars disappear in Charlottesville."

No, there's no David Blainesque magic trick involved. Kuttner simply wants to build an apartment building behind a house he owns at 226 South Street over a parking garage with a entrance that passes under the house. Since there is no room for Kuttner to put in a driveway to the rear on either side of the house, he said he wanted to "make the cars go through the house," which would include a "traffic light," as the under-house entrance would be one-way.

"Would the City let you do that?" BAR vice-chair Syd Knight asked about the traffic light.

"I don't know," said Kuttner.

"Good luck," said Knight, chuckling.

Kuttner wasn't seeking approval from the BAR, and said he just wanted to know if they might support such a thing before he decided to "throw a bunch of money at this."

"The single biggest construction error I've made was not putting parking under the Terraces," said Kuttner, referring to the building he developed on the corner of First and Water Streets. On that note, Kuttner said he thought that cars going underground would be the future of the Mall because "people don't want to live without their cars." He also called the City lot where the Farmer's Market is held a perfect candidate for an underground parking facility.

Though some BAR members appeared to be charmed by Kuttner's proposal, board member Brian Hogg wasn't buying it.

"I think this is a total non-starter," he said. "It's just not an appropriate intervention....it is clever, but not sympathetic to the historic house."

However, some board members appeared to be open to the idea of exploring the idea, including Eryn Brennan and Amy Gardner, who said, "I would be open to looking at something...there's a precedent for more modern structures on Water Street."

Expect Kuttner to return with his magic act.

2 comments

"not an appropriate intervention".... Whatever happened to the principle of private property?

Definitely, a priority should ALWAYS be given to the older structure over any new facility. There can be NO more effective architecture for current and future needs than that which has existed for decades or, even better, centuries.