Barracks Road canopy spared-- for now
Weeks after merchants and shoppers expressed outrage over the plan to replace Barracks Road Shopping Center's 10-foot-wide canopy from Talbots to Panera Bread with a series of trendier, four-foot-wide awnings and pergolas, owner Federal Realty Investment Trust has abandoned the plan, at least for the present.
"We were all very agitated," says Steve Metz, who runs Lynn Goldman Studio in the shopping center. "I collected almost 400 signatures of people who didn't want it, and we made it very clear to [Federal]."
Still, Metz says he's not going to put away his clipboard just yet: he fears he hasn't seen the last of the effort to jettison the canopy that shields shoppers from rain and heat in favor of a less weather-practical option.
"Two years ago, Federal told us it was 'off the table,'" says Metz. "At the most recent meeting on May 13, they told us they didn't mean it was off the table permanently and that there's no such thing as never."
Not only would Federal never say "never," but Metz says he received a letter from his landlord the day before the May 13 meeting stating that "the hammers could come any day now." He believes the canopy has been spared for the moment because Charlottesville's oldest shopping center faces more pressing issues.
"My perception is that because the economy is in a slump, they're not going to make any big expenditures like that right now," he says. "Also, [the soon-to-be-vacated] Goody's is a huge space that needs to be reconfigured or knocked down if they're going to find a big box store to move in."
Metz says he intends to present his petition to City Hall in case Federal attempts to raze the canopy in the future.
"I'm going to make sure everyone knows it's not a very popular idea," he says. "If they have to go to the city for approval, I want to make sure that's in the file."
Federal Realty Investment Trust did not return a request for comment.