Monday, November 27, 2006

Luxury Gleason Condos: urban renewal still not over



"The Gleason Condos"

At the Charlottesville Planning Commission meeting tonight, it is expected that The Gleason condominium project will be approved for construction near the intersection of Garrett Street and Second Street SE.

There is no public hearing on this project because it is a by-right development. The plan calls for 71 luxury condominiums in a six-story L-shaped building wrapped around the old Gleasons building and adjacent to the new ACAC athletic facility. Buildings up to nine stories are allowed by-right in this part of downtown Charlottesville.

According to the staff report, the project is before the Planning Commission at the discretion of Jim Tolbert, the City's Director of Neighborhood Development Services, "based on the size and impact to the surrounding area."

Update 11/21/06: At the meeting on 11/14/06, the Charlottesville Planning Commission unanimously approved The Gleason condominium project.

Brian Wheeler, Charlottesville Tomorrow




Why are the Gleason Condos historic?

The luxury condominiums are one example of Charlottesville’s ongoing urban renewal program. On December 6, 1976, the Redevelopment and Housing Authority took deed to this site and the area north of Garrett Street including site of the Cold Steam Building torn down 1952—also known as Alexander Garrett’s grand home on what was in the 1820s Oak Hill farm. Garrett Street was developed in 1860 and the city’s first public school opened on this street in 1870.

The first image below is the first of 19 pages in Deed Book 380 Page 567 documenting the seizure of 14.5 acres for the purpose of resale. The final two images are the last assessment records for this land from 1976 to 1982.

Thirteen parcels were consolidated in 1976 “in the development of an urban renewal project.” The Gleason Corporation was paid $370,000 in three deeds recorded consecutively.

Atlantic Coast Athletic Club opened its mega-fitness center this month west of the Gleason building on land once owned by Gleason. Last year Fridays After Five weekly festivals were held on Garrett St. between Gleason and Standard Produce.

In 2004 Bill Ditmar erected condos a few blocks east and on the north side of Garrett on land seized in 1972. The Norcross condos face out on the site of an upscale brothel 1922-1949, at 303 5th St. SE, the legendary Marguiretta de Crescioli. This grand home, when demolished in 1972, tossed out thousands of dollars when the wrecker’s ball tore through the brick walls of this Jeffersonian-style house.

First of 19 pages, Deed Book 380 Page 567, From Gleason to Redevelopment Authority, 12/6/76, Charlottesville, Va., docu-photo 11/27/06
First of 19 pages, Deed Book 380 Page 567, From Gleason to Redevelopment Authority, 12/6/76, Charlottesville, Va., docu-photo 11/27/06

Assessments of Gleason property 1976-82
Assessments of Gleason property 1976-82, first of 2 pages, Charlottesville, Va., docuphoto 11/27/06

Assessments of Gleason property 1976-82
Assessments of Gleason property 1976-82, second of 2 pages, Charlottesville, Va., docuphoto 11/27/06

These are the types of documents, including photos and newspaper clips, that Charlottesville City Council refused to release to the public last Monday, Nov. 20, 2006.

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