Proposed Mall design includes more fountains

Conceptual designs for the proposed Downtown Mall renovation are now viewable on the project website, courtesy the MMM Design Group, the local firm in charge of pulling off the $7 million renovation, and we appear to have two choices: the water fun park version, and the dry land version.

Literally, there is a plan A and plan B (created with nifty flash maps!). Plan B includes a fountain on the West End of the Mall, just above the Omni Hotel, with water cascading down three steps into a reflecting pool. There could also be an "interactive splash" fountain on the East end of the Mall, in front of Bashir's. Plan A simply calls for the renovation of the existing fountains, as does plan B.

Both plans call for six public art sculptures, ginkgo trees planted in islands along side streets, the replacement of the Red Maples at Central Place, and extending the features of the Mall down the side streets.

MMM has also been busy facilitating discussions with Downtown stakeholders on how to proceed, and recently completed this Business Impact Survey.

As recently reported, Downtown business owners are fearful of such a massive renovation, particularly after seeing how the city has handled the renovation of Third street, a two-month project that could now take up to nine months. (To add insult to injury to the businesses on Third, the street was completely closed off today as work began on the new sidewalks).

At a recent stakeholder meeting, a MMM representative admitted there was "extreme tension" in the business community concerning this project. Indeed, such colorful comments as "If they disrupt 5th Street, we are screwed" and "The loss of the patio in the spring or summer will kill our business " were included in the impact study.

According to Joan Fenton, a downtown business owner and co-chair of the Downtown Business Association, a letter was sent to the city requesting that downtown developers and the delivery companies that serve the Mall be invited to the table, but they were not included in the MMM study.

"In the end," says Fenton, expressing what many stakeholders seem to feel, despite the studies and the community meetings, "the city does what it wants to do."

10 comments

The succesful businesses know that it is their businesses that draw the people and the unsuccesful businesses often blame the infrastructure. The city needs to spend it's money keeping the mall safe and clean and provide easy inexpensive parking. The marketplace will take care of itself.

don't taze the businesses bro...

Joe Schinstock, McNair described your firm as "local." I got the description concerning Norfolk from your website. I was interested in knowing the names of your associates located here in Charlottesville which I still have not been able to find. It's nice to know this information when I listen to speakers at Council and Planning Commission meetings because sometimes people with local addresses do not reveal their employer's name. Care to list them?

Mr. McNair:

While MMM Design Group is in fact ¢Ã¢â??¬Ã?â??...a full-service architecture, engineering, and planning firm located in Norfolk, Virginia¢Ã¢â??¬, we have had an office in Charlottesville since 2000. In fact, we are presently expanding our office space here in Charlottesville. Please feel free to visit us at 106 5th Street NE (on the Mall in the Market Street Parking Garage).

Joe Schinstock, PE

And the fountains will be turned off two of every five summers during mandatory water restrictions. At least Woolen Mills won't stink anymore.

Cville Eye,
They have a Charlottesville office...compared to Wallace, Roberts, and Todd, the Philadelphia-based firm who did the Transit Center and did an earlier study on the Mall renovation, MDG is considered local...

"MMM Design Group is a full-service architecture, engineering, and planning firm located in Norfolk, Virginia." Mr. McNair, I would be interested in knowing the names of MMM's Charlottesville affiliates. I didn't recognize any of the names on their website.

A good example of the "Cost savings and efficiency" philosophy of our local government.
"...downtown developers and the delivery companies that serve the Mall be invited to the table..." Ms. Fenton, if that had happened then it would "...ensure greater transparency in the department and provide an additional layer of oversight." I'm sure Mayor Norris will be glad to insist upon their inclusion in the next meetings. Oh, they're over? You mean they couldn't be included in any of the four meetings? I guess it saves money and provides greater efficiency by meeting with fewer people.

Gotcha.

It was sad to hear about the businesses on 3rd St closing. How long? And who is compensating these small businesses that rely on daily receipts? I've watched this construction and have been concerned about bringing our stroller with just a fence between my child and the equipment. Now it's closed? What?

I can imagine a great deal of changes will be made to the downtown mall. In the next four years during the renovation period, there's probably going to be a decline in the number of vendors. Also, the outdoor cafe space may change.