Sunday, June 25, 2006

$1 million Jefferson School makeover: Council hears 3 B.A.R. appeals

Jefferson School 1865-2002, this incarnation 1926

Charlottesville, Va. City Hall Council Chambers June 19 2006 as viewed on Adelphia Cable channel 10 on June 24 at 5 p.m. I watched 3 hours 40 minutes until Council took a break at 10:40 their time.

When I tuned in, Councilor Blake Caravati was saying goodbye to the public in the announcements/recognitions portion. This was his and Rob Schilling’s last meeting. On July 3 newly elected Dave Norris and Julian Taliaferro will assume their offices.

I counted 13 speakers in the Public Comment. Six of them spoke against approval of partial demolition at First and Main Streets for a 9-story mixed use building with underground parking.

Some worried about the building’s height while not seeming to notice a 8-story building already on that block (123 E. Main Wachovia, erected 1914 as National Bank and Trust). Also nobody seemed to notice that the buildings can’t be seen because of the 5-story trees on the pedestrian mall.

Three spoke on the noise level from the Pavilion at 7th and Main. Points made: noise brings down property values; Schilling voted against the Pavilion; noise abatement wall could be built; shut down Pavilion before 10 p.m. on weekdays.

Naomi Roberts and Jim Moore thanked Rob Schilling for his service and leadership on Council.

Marshall Slater, attorney for Donny McDaniel, said the city is trying to shut down single room occupancies at 1623, 1625 and 1505 Meridian Street in Belmont. Slater said a Norfolk study has shown that single room occupancies are the most economic and successful residences for a segment of the population. He was to appear in court Thursday June 22 to block the threatened evictions.

John Gaines said that at the last Council meeting he presented a petition to name the 9th/10th Street connector after Roosevelt Brown. On June 5, 2000 the Council held a public hearing to name the connector for Sally Hemings, slave of Thomas Jefferson, but public outcry stopped Virginia Daugherty’s proposal. Gaines also pointed out the conflict of interest of Gate Pratt—president of 10th/Page Neighborhood Association and architect for a project in that neighborhood now before the Council.

Then followed the Consent Agenda. Purchase of 407 E. High Street was lifted out for consideration at the end of the meeting.

Historical Marker

Assistant city manager Rochelle Small-Toney, joined by consultants, made the case for a million dollar facelift of Jefferson School. Originally the private black school opened in 1865 five years before the city’s first white public school.

Small-Toney is requesting $1,032,905 to repair and restore the brick exterior. $172,190 of that is for a contingency fund. $60,000 for scaffolding. $30 per square foot to rake out old mortar ¾ to 1 inch deep and tuck-point fresh mortar meeting restoration guidelines. The estimate includes double-cleaning of the façade and caulking around windows.

The cost estimate comes from a Maryland contractor who has jobs as close as Culpeper. Other than erosion of mortar, Jefferson School is structurally sound.

100% of the mortar joints of the 1926 building will be raked out and replaced with lime mortar; 50% for the 1938 portion; 30% of the 1958 portion. 200 bricks must be replaced. The work would require 6 to 9 months.

Council postponed a decision on the appropriation until a citizens’ committee can be appointed to oversee the project. Councilor Kevin Lynch thought the cost estimate seemed exorbitant.

Then followed the 3 BAR appeals.

Council approved 25 square-feet for The Melting Pot restaurant sign to be placed on the new Holsinger building at Water and 5th. The approval was a compromise bteween 28 sq-ft requested and 22 sq-ft recommended by BAR Chad Hornick owns the restaurant and restaurant space as well as 7 other Melting Pot franchises.

Council sent back to the BAR John Crafaik’s request to demolish the 3 houses on Wertland Street nearest 10th NW to clear the way for higher density student housing. Crafaik is now willing to sell or donate the houses to Habitat for Humanity or anyone who agrees to move them. The BAR is to review the request considering the option of relocating the houses.

123 E. Main Wachovia, proposed demolition next door

The third appeal is the BAR denial of a request for partial demolition of 101 and 105 East Main, the old bakery (now Community Design Center) built 1916 and Cato’s clothing store built 1892.

Council will revisit this appeal after a joint work session with BAR within the next 2 months. If Council denies the demolition permit and special height permit, the owner can appeal to Circuit Court

The request is to save the facades but take down the rear wall and interior wall, then build a 9-story tower. The tower would be set 20 feet back from the 3 story facades to make it less noticeable from street level.

There would be 80 residential units, up to 10,000 square feet of office and commercial space, and 180 parking spaces below ground—120 for residents, 30 for businesses, and 30 for the public and a car stacker to squeeze them all in.

The new building promises to bring $563,000 annually into city coffers. It was argued that the vitality offered by the new development would offset the loss of what you can’t see. The upper floors have been vacant for more than four decades and storefronts for 6 years.

Tonight’s hearing is at least the fifth appeal to Council concerning these two, and the two adjacent buildings at 107 and 111.

In 1988 Jefferson National Bank next door in the National Bank tower received a certificate to demolish all 4 other buildings on this block. But Jefferson National never acted on the permit. Since then, Council has said no to Wachovia in 1997, Danielson and Rolph in 2000, Gale and Bates in 2002.

Mall looking toward Wachovia on left

Then Council took a 10-minute break. Upon returning, they began discussing sister cities in Europe. I had to go do other things. So I missed the vote on the affordable Housing Tax Grants that would give up to $250 off your home’s taxes if you qualify. Both WINA and Daily Progress report that the city charter amendment was passed.


Historic Preservation Guide
Charlottesville, Virginia. July 1980.

Prepared by:
Community Development Services
Satyendra Singh Huja, Director
Ronald L. Higgins, Planner
Jaynee Whalen, Secretary

School of Architecture, University of Virginia
K. Edward Lay
Robert Brennan
Stuart N. Siegel
Jack Abgott

Page 2

In 1959, the City Council of Charlottesville created the “Restricted Design District” immediately surrounding Court Square…The City Council also created a seven member Board of Architectural Review (BAR) whose purpose is to maintain and enhance the character of this District by reviewing proposed improvements in the ADC to ensure its conformity to the general historic, cultural and artistic tone of the area

Page 14

The following criteria have been selected by the City of Charlottesville, VA for use in evaluating projects which fall within the following categories:

A. All buildings within the Architectural Design District
B. All buildings outside the ADC built before 1870
C. Historic Landmarks identified by the Landmarks Commission and designated by City Council.

The B.A.R. acts on the exterior architectural character and the environment visible from any public street or place for the above structures. It should be noted that these criteria are presented as guidelines for use in developing a project for B.A.R. Review…

The criteria have been expanded upon from the four categories…It should be noted that few projects, whether minor additions and alterations or new construction, can expect to fully satisfy all of, or even most of, these specific criteria.

A. Harmony of Scale…
B. Harmony of materials, textures, colors, and motifs…
C. Impact on the Surrounding Environment…
D. Historic or Architectural Significance of the Proposed Action…

Even though these criteria seem to stress harmony and unity, the intent is not to prevent variety which is as important to the character of the area as any other element.

Page 51

No such permit [height waiver from Council] shall allow a building height in excess of seventy-five feet from grade to cornice line…

The height of the street façade in one plane of any building constructed under such permit shall not be higher than forty feet from the grade, and any portion of the facade higher than forty feet shall have a setback of at least twenty feet from the front and rear property lines…

The special permit for seventy-five feet height from grade to cornice line shall only be considered when the proposed request encompasses an entire block of the city as designated on the official U.S. Census Map…

Page 52

In any building constructed under such permit, the total area of any floor constructed more than forty feet above grade shall not exceed fifty percent of the total site area of the proposed development.


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