Great Eastern Management Company presents plans for mixed-use redevelopment of Seminole Square

Members of the public had the opportunity Wednesday to ask questions of the developers of Seminole Square Shopping Center. The Great Eastern Management Company has submitted plans to convert the former Giant store and other commercial sites. 

“What we have here actually are four individual structures,” said David Mitchell is with GEMC. “We’re staying in the existing development area and we’re not going down into any of the slopes or any of the critical areas. We’re staying up on the platform that we built 30 years ago.”

Mitchell said this is a by-right plan and will not require a rezoning or special use permit. 

One structure will be a mixed-use building and the rest will be all residential. Parking would be underneath and Mitchell said the minimum requirements would be met. 

Credit: Henningsen Kestner 

Another commercial building will be built along Hillsdale Drive but Mitchell said there are no identified tenants. 

Planning Commissioner Rory Stolzenberg asked how the project was different from the previous plan. GEMC filed for a rezoning in early 2019 for eleven five story buildings with around 500 residential units. 

“Obviously the building configuration looks a little bit different,” Stolzenberg said. “In particular, what caused the number of units to drop?” 

Mitchell said the reduced number comes down to parking requirements and construction costs.

“When we started to look harder at this after that initial plan you saw three years ago it became obvious to us that these buildings are already going to be five to seven stories with underground parking,” Mitchell said. “To get any more than that… this is not downtown New York. There are limitations on the economics.” 

The units would either be one-bedroom or two bedroom units. Five percent will be affordable under the city’s existing affordable housing policies. 

“It’s not required because this is by-right but we’ve just decided we’ve done it on another project that was a special use permit so it was required,” Mitchell said. “We think we can provide that within the economic structure of the project.” 

Two public streets would be created as part of the project. 

In addition to Stolzenberg, only one other person actually spoke. Peter Krebs of the Piedmont Environmental Council asked questions about connectivity. 

Mitchell said GEMC would like to move forward with the project as soon as possible. The company is also offering an easement for a trail connection to the Meadow Creek stream corridor. 


Before you go: The time to write and research of this article is covered by paid subscribers to Charlottesville Community Engagement. In fact, this particular installment comes from the March 24, 2022 edition of the program. To ensure this research can be sustained, please consider becoming a paid subscriber or contributing monthly through Patreon.

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