Site plan meeting held for former K-Mart site

The city of Charlottesville is reviewing a private company’s latest plans for redevelopment of the K-Mart Plaza, though few new details emerged at a site plan conference last month. 

“This is a site that we previously have taken a site plan through the city for a slightly different design,” said Ashley Davies, vice president of Riverbend Development. 

Riverbend Development also developed the Whole Foods nearby.

In addition to the K-Mart, the site used to have a Gold’s Gym franchise. The K-Mart closed in the summer of 2017, according to the Daily Progress.  A movie theater called the Terrace Triple Theatre used to stand on what is now Hillsdale Drive Extended.

The site consists of ten acres and takes up a big chunk of the northeast quadrant of the intersection of U.S. 29 and Hydraulic Road. In addition to the redevelopment of the existing building, the site plan shows two proposed new buildings along U.S. 29 with space for two additional buildings lining the entrance to Hydraulic Road in a second phase. 

“The plan maintains the same basic ingress and egress to the site,” Davies said. “There’s kind of three components. Component one is making some changes to the existing building that’s there so we can accommodate three new tenants on the site.”

Component two includes the buildings along U.S. 29. One would be for a bank and the other in the corner would be a ‘fast casual restaurant” with a drive-through window. Component three would be the two new buildings in phase two. 

A separate application for a special use permit for that drive-through window is also making its way through the Department of Neighborhood Development Services. The Planning Commission will see that application at its meeting in November. 

The site plan shows left-hand turns movements from Hydraulic Road onto southbound U.S. 29, but that turn movement is expected to be eliminated as part of a funded Smart Scale that is in the design review process. That project also included a pedestrian bridge across U.S. 29 at Zan Road. 

An overview view of the new site plan for Hillsdale Place (Credit: Collins Engineering)

City Councilor Michael Payne said he was disappointed that no housing is proposed as part of the development. Alan Taylor of Riverbend said the company does not own the property but only has a long-term ground lease. 

“It just makes it really, really difficult to do anything on the site aside from ground leases because if you’re building buildings and all of that stuff, the economics just don’t support making those kinds of decisions,” Taylor said. “It’s unfortunate and I agree because that’s probably what it wants to be but just based on the structure it really makes it difficult for us to achieve that end goal.” 

Payne said the City Council would be willing to work with the developer to work towards that goal. 

Nearby, Great Eastern Management Company has submitted plans to redevelop the former Giant store in Seminole Square Shopping Center with about 350 units of housing. That site plan conference was held in March, as I reported at the time.

Names of potential tenants were not disclosed at the site plan meeting, but Taylor ruled out one retailer.

“It might have maybe been a Target in the past  but it is no longer a Target and we are not allowed to talk about who the tenants are because they don’t want to have out there until things start but Target, if they were involved, are no longer involved,” Taylor said. 

The next public step for the project will be a public hearing for the special use permit. Riverbend Development is currently responding to a comment letter sent out by staff late last month. 

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 October 6, 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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