City Planners: “Let there be light”
Last July, as a result of the deadlock over the development of Keith Woodard's 9-story First & Main project on the Mall, City Council held the first of several joint work sessions between the BAR, the Planning Commission, City planning staff, and others to rethink the Downtown Mall's vertical growth plan.
Now it appears the City is having serious second thoughts about allowing 9-story buildings on the Mall.
Six months later, in a story first reported and podcast by the development watchdog Charlottesville Tomorrow, the City appears to have seen the light–literally.
"Now that we're seeing the reality of development starting to take place on the Downtown Mall," said neighborhood development chief Jim Tolbert at a January 25 work session, addressing the concerns of the committee, "was that really what we wanted to see? Was that what we intended all along?"
According to a shadow study prepared by the city, which has the sun shining on the Mall at a 32-degree angle from its Market Street and Water Street sides, buildings above 70 feet, especially on the Market Street side, could turn the Mall's pedestrian area into a dark tunnel. Based on these findings, the work session brain trust appears ready to recommend that the City lower the 101-foot building height currently allowed to 70 feet. Planners are also recommending that there be new ordinances determing the setbacks and shapes of proposed buildings in an effort to maintain the way the sun currently shines on our Mall.