Capshaw-ville: Big complex dwarfs station

One year after trees began falling on the six-acre site in the shadow of the Amtrak station, it's the train station that now finds itself shadowed by eight large apartment buildings funded by Dave Matthews Band manager Coran Capshaw.

"Those guys work!" exclaims station owner Gabe Silverman, amazed at the speed at which the wood-framed structures emerged this month. But for Atlanta-based developer Nathan Metzger, the quick climb masks a year of plodding.

"This is the slowest thing I've ever done," says Metzger, pointing to last year's record-breaking rainfall as the reason. "Once we get out of the mud," he explains, "we're able to fly."

The 225-unit project is dubbed Walker Square. While rents have yet to be set, rents at Riverbend Apartments behind Pantops Shopping Center, also developed by Metzger and Capshaw, range from $840 to $1,160.

One year ago, fellow developer Richard Spurzem revealed that since 2002, six high-end complexes containing about 1,300 units have been planned, built, or are under construction– a glut of more units in one year than in the previous 12.

"Absolutely, it worries me," says Metzger. "I think the market is way overbuilt– and getting worse. Fortunately, our location is second to none."

The location is Fifeville, and neighborhood association president Herb Porter says Walker Square met the City's new "transitional zone" requirements. But Porter, while acknowledging that a gym and coffee shop are slated for the property, says he's surprised the development doesn't contain more "mixed-use."

"It pretty much seems like a residential development geared to people at UVA," he says.

He and Silverman worry that busy West Main Street will become even more clogged. "I'd like to know," says Silverman, "if the fire trucks will have to start running down Cherry Avenue."

As a matter of fact, according to fire captain Pete Sweeney, the Charlottesville Fire Department has "pre-determined response plans" that may include bringing fire trucks to the apartments via both West Main and Cherry. He declined comment on whether increased development might slow responses to other parts of the city.

Metzger predicts that occupancy of Walker Square will begin in late May with all structures complete and ready for occupancy by late summer.


Capshaw-ville climbs over Union Station.
PHOTO BY JEN FARIELLO

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