Corner Plan 9, Satellite Ballroom to close

After a 10-year run, Plan 9 Music stores owner Jim Bland confirmed today that his store location on The Corner in the Anderson Building, which is also home to the Satellite Ballroom, coffee shop Higher Grounds, and the restaurant Just Curry, will close at the end of May, as property owner Terry Vassalos has declined to renew the store's lease. Since Satellite, Higher Grounds, and Just Curry all sub-lease from Plan 9, it means that those venues will be homeless on May 31 as well.

"We tried to work on a lease extension," says Bland, indicating that Vassalos may have wanted much more than Bland was comfortable with. "But nobody got an extension."

For months now, rumors that Vassalos has been courting pharmacy giant CVS as a possible tenant have been in circulation. In a Hook story on Corner moves last September, Vassalos denied that any big chains stores were sniffing around, but Vassalos told the Hook in March that the company had "studied the location."

However, neither Vasslos or CVS will confirm which company will lease the space, and Bland says he still doesn't know who the new tenant might be, despite months of negotiation with Vassalos and his lawyers.

BAR vice chair Syd Knight, who dealt with a developer for CVS who once had plans to put a store on the corner of Ridge/McIntire and West Main, said he'd be surprised if rumors about a CVS on the Corner turned out to be true.

"That location doesn't fit the standard CVS model," said Knight. " It's difficult for the non-UVA population to reach, and it has no parking or truck access for deliveries. Those are some of the problems they cite when they talk about the shortcomings of the Downtown Mall store. Why would they want to recreate them on the Corner?"

Whatever Vassalos has up his sleeve, it appears it could be lucrative.

During a bar stool conversation at his Tip Top Restaurant on Pantops Mountain in March, Vassalos said he understood why people were upset about Plan 9 and Satellite loosing their leases, "but as a business man...," he said with a shrug and a smile.

Indeed, for most landlords, a big corporate tenant like CVS would be hard to turn away.

Meanwhile, Bland suggests that closing the Corner Plan 9 may have been inevitable.

"Sales have been eroding over the last few years," he says. "The way people buy music, especially college kids, has changed– there's just no way to make money anymore."

Richmond-based Bland says the company has no plans to leave Charlottesville, a town it has served since 1985, and that Plan 9 will consolidate its efforts at its Albemarle Square location.

As a parting note, Bland says he hopes to work with the owners of Satellite to plan an appropriate good-bye blowout.

"Charlottesville has been very good to us," says Bland. "And we were proud of the Corner store, but we just couldn't afford to have two stores anymore."

15 comments

This is a true shame, and at least the Albemarle Square store remains (for now).

It is a truly a shame for Charlottesville to lose the fine Plan 9 location that has served the community for so long. But the Satellite Ballroom can still be saved. It's profitable and wants to stay in the location, only the building's owner, Terry Vassalos, wants to force them out... because he's "a businessman.." (see quote in the article above). The Satellite Ballroom, Just Curry and maybe even Higher Grounds could stay in their locations if only Terry Vassalos is convinced he should let them stay.
Let him know what you think! (434) 244-3424 or 1420 Richmond Rd, Charlottesville, VA 22911

If the Satellite was a good room, I'd be more upset. I made the drive to Norfolk to see Spoon at the Norva a couple weeks ago, and, well, that's what a club should be. I'll miss the acts that play at the Satellite, but let's not pretend it's a great club with great sound.

Hopefully the Jefferson will be done soon.

C'mon Jim,
what is the point of commenting at all?
Satellite is nothing like NORVA. It is much smaller, Norva is 3 times the size. It's not great, but the ballroom's production values are not bad (for what it is)& consider all of the bands that could not have supported a show at the NORVA, Man Man, Thermals, Acid Mother's Temple, Battles, Vashti Bunyan, Art Brut, Bonde Do Role, Oakley Hall, Magnolia Electric Co, Super Wolf...
For all of these shows, it was the only stop in Virginia. THIS WAS THE POINT OF THE BALLROOM. Satellite seemed quite aware of it's role & in fact got opportunities with the larger acts because it fostered great relationships with booking agents.
Norva, Toad's, National, 930 all a different level of club. Satellite was like a mini Black Cat & by those standards, the club did a GREAT service to this community. Look at crummy Alley Catz in Richmond if you need further evidence.

To further bummer the situation, I know they had a long list of renovations standing by if Terry didn't stick it to them.

Losing Satellite would be a big loss for the music scene in Cville. We've already lost Trax/Max, Tokyo Rose, and Starr Hill.

I really haven't been that happy with Satellite Ballroom shows since Starr Hill closed, but at least we still have Outback Lodge. For now.

this leaves a big hole and artists will skip a stop in town now and head south to Chapel Hill

So how does the Jefferson fit into this picture? For a while they had a sign out front saying "mammoth renovations until '08". How close is it to being finished and how would the capacity compare to Satellite? I haven't been to the Norva but have been to The National and 930. I thought The National was very impressive and if The Jefferson can be a mini version of that we're in for a real treat. GA seats upstairs, GA standing downstairs = genius. It would also be nice if the Paramount had more (legitimate) concert events like the Earle show last week. However they need to let you bring a beer in there. Durham's Carolina Theatre allows it.

Somewhere that had tables and seats would be really nice. Outback has about 30 seats and 150 standing.

Who in the hell are all of you people who think loosing Satellite is so bad? WTF? "but at least we still have Outback Lodge. For now." Good god, what a s**t hole, not that the Ballroom is that much better. For the person who says "this leaves a big hole and artists will skip a stop in town now and head south to Chapel Hill" Have you ever heard of a little place about 70 miles away from here called Richmond? Plenty of venues big enough to take on what we'll be "missing" OR perhaps it'll just make the "powers that be" step up their game, and find another space that'll hold 500 peeps. I don't think it's all said and done folks...Not by a long shot. Plenty of other decent venues in town to see music though. Millers, Twisted Branch(if you don't mind smelling like spicey curry when you leave), upstairs at Miya is pretty hoppin'. For dan1101 "Somewhere that had tables and seats would be really nice. Outback has about 30 seats and 150 standing." Have you ever heard of Gravity Lounge?? Santana's kid played there the other night. What a phzat show that was too! Great sound system, good beer selection AND you don't leave smelling like a big ass tray.

Something 70 miles away isn't too interesting to me.

Never been to Gravity Lounge, looks a little too "hip" for me.

CXS, I'm not sure how the places you mentioned in Charlottesville are a true substitution for Satellite.

Dan i was referring to the comment about how bands would be routing to charlotte, nc when speaking of richmond. not appealing to me at all, but a far cry better than driving to charlotte...don't ya think? you should give gravity a try, not too hip for anyone, just good music in a cool space.
DF-None of the places i mentioned in my rant were being referred to as "subsititutions" to satellite at all. i just think there's a HUGE misconception about the music scene over all in Charlottesville. Everyone thinks we're this little podunk town that never had a thing before starr hill, or satellite. When, in fact, we've always had incredible music....even before trax. I remember going to see widespred panic downstairs at the c&o...yes the c&o!! and there were 20 of us in the room rockin' out. i remember going to see koko taylor at the virginian...yes, the virginian! robert palmer at the mineshaft, the original little feat at u hall, the kinks etc...the list goes on. Music has always come to Charlottesville, and it ain't gonna stop just because some crappy room that holds 500 ppl is closing its doors. that's all.

That's a good way to look at it and I hope you're right. I'll keep an eye on Gravity and check out a show there sometime.

I actually just called Plan 9 today (June 9) and they are still open. I asked if they were going to close soon and Tim said, "No, we're saying open." According to news sources, the lease for Plan 9, Satellite Ballroom, etc was supposed to terminate at the end of May. Looks like there was a possible intervention (or maybe just a delay).

hey some guy - did you call the Plan 9 at Albemarle Square? Last I saw the corner location, it was pretty much empty.

The Albemarle location was never slated to close - only the corner location.