In 2019, the Albemarle County Economic Development Department began a planning study of the roadway that leads to the Woolen Mills factory, a historic property that has renovated in recent years by developer Brian Roy. The main entrance is along Broadway Avenue, which extends from Carlton Avenue at the border between the city of Charlottesville and Albemarle County. In all, there are about 45 acres of land that were the subject of an interim study presented to the Board of Supervisors in November of 2019.
“The goal at that time was to leverage the public and private investment that had taken place and projected to take place at the Woolen Mills redevelopment and the Willow Tree relocation at that site,” said J.T. Newberry in the economic development department.
Much of the land is zoned for light industrial use, and several businesses are operating in the area. Construction of the new Woolen Mills Industrial Park is underway. The Board of Supervisors was to have seen the results of an implementation study in April 2020, but the pandemic put a pause on the work.
“Nevertheless we have tried to stay engaged with stakeholders on the corridor,” Newberry said. “There have been a number of projects that have continued on the private side.”
After the interim study, Albemarle staff met with city staff at least twice, and the blueprint has been run by the Planning Commission, the Economic Development Authority, and the Office of Equity and Inclusion. The latter suggested a new approach to the project following the signing of a memorandum of understanding on the topic by Charlottesville, Albemarle County and the University of Virginia. Roger Johnson is the director of economic development for Albemarle.
“We are going to pause our project and go back and review the Broadway corridor through an equity lens,” Johnson said. “We don’t know if that will change anything substantively or not but we expect that it will.”
That will include a meeting with the city’s new Deputy City Manager of Racial Equity, Diversity and Inclusion, Ashley Marshall.
Next steps could include creation of a business association for the area, similar to the Downtown Crozet Association. Another would be to create an arts and cultural district for the location.
“Some other types of activities we are contemplating are to complete pedestrian and bike connectivity, multimodal streetscape, enhanced public transportation,” Johnson said.
Those activities are now considered to be long-term goals.