City Council defers decision on demolition project

blog-firstandmain.JPGWhether or not developer Keith Woodard will be able to demolish everything but the facades of the buildings he owns at First & East Main on the Downtown Mall (right across from Hamilton’s) to make way for a 9-story mixed-use building went undecided at last night’s City Council meeting. According to council clerk Jeanne Cox, the Councilors decided to defer the decision. “They decided they wanted to talk with the Board of Architectural Review again about the project,” said Cox. “We’re trying to set up a meeting in July.”

Woodard was appealing a previous BAR recommendation, which allowed for the demolition of one building and the partial demolition of another between 101 and 111 East Main Street, but called for the complete preservation of 101 East Main, currently home to the Charlottesville Community Design Center. Of course, following that recommendation would make the project considerably more expensive for Woodard, who sought to by-pass it with a City Council vote.

According to Charlottesville City spokesperson, Ric Barrick, Council was all but ready to vote no on Woodard’s demolition plans, with both Mayor David Brown and Vice Mayor Kevin Lynch saying they didn’t want to overrule the BAR decision, when Councilor Blake Caravati argued that the demolition plans deserved a closer look, given the fact that Woodard might be forced to abandon the project if he were hamstrung by the BAR’s recommendations. Caravati suggested convening a work group on the issue before making a decision, to which Council agreed.

Barrick said that Council heard three separate BAR appeals Monday night, deferring both Woodard’s demolition plans and another developer’s plan to move several historic houses on Wertland Street. Council did, however, approve a lighted logo sign for the Melting Pot, a new fondue restaurant in the Holsinger building, which the BAR had originally nixed.