Office space: Capshaw's Red Light now on Mall

Charlottesville's own King Midas has a brand new castle– right on the Downtown Mall! That's right, Coran Capshaw, the man whose hand touches– and turns to gold– nearly every project happening in downtown Charlottesville, moved his music management company to the former SNL building the week before Christmas.

Filling the fifth-floor penthouse as well as half of the second floor, the approximately 25 Red Light Management staffers– and their boss– are enjoying their new digs.

"It's a very open floor plan that really allows us to work at the speed we like to work," says Red Light's director of marketing, Patrick Jordan, who says several employees of Capshaw's ATO records share the space. Some tech folks from Capshaw's Musictoday now occupy the building's basement.

Jordan says some of Red Light's employees– accustomed to working in several farmhouses on Capshaw's sprawling Seven Oaks estate in Crozet worried that leaving the farm might force them into a Dilbert-esque cubical existence.

Fortunately, says Jordan, that has not been the case.

"It doesn't feel like an office," he explains. "It feels like an ad agency in L.A."

That's thanks to the extensive renovation Capshaw undertook following his purchase of the $2.8 million property from SNL founder Reid Nagle in 2004.

Following four hearings before the Board of Architectural Review, Capshaw settled on a final design plan that included a wall of glass along Fourth Street, expansion of the former elevator lobby, and creation of additional ground floor retail space. Pre-renovation, the building assessed in late 2004 for just over $4.7 million.

With Red Light's December 2005 move-in, the space is now 100 percent occupied, says Lane Bonner, the real estate agent in charge of leasing the five-story, nearly 42,000-square-foot former Miller & Rhoads building.

That feat– particularly impressive given Charlottesville's softening rental market– is thanks to Capshaw's reputation as a fair landlord, Bonner said last June, as well as a bit of Coran's well known Midas touch.

His other tenants in the building include law firm Williams and Mullen, eco-engineering firm Beacon Hill, and bead shop Studio Baboo. Five Guys burgers will fill the ground floor space once occupied by coffee shop City Centro.

"People like to be around Coran," explains Bonner.

And now that his office is on the Mall, there will be more opportunity to do just that.

The penthouse, now occupied by Coran Capshaw's Red Light Management, offers a direct view of Brown's Mountain, aka "Mont-Alto."

The facade's limestone pediment was replaced with more windows.