Category Archives: Economic Development

Albemarle to purchase 462 acres of land on U.S. 29 to enable possible expansion of Rivanna Station 

The Albemarle Board of Supervisors is planning to purchase hundreds of acres of land on U.S. 29 North from developer Wendell Wood to help preserve the continued existence of a key military base in northern Albemarle County. 

“Albemarle County will assume an agreement to purchase approximately 462 acres in the Rivanna Magisterial District for about $58 million,” said Supervisor Chair Donna Price. “The vision for this purchase is to solidify the long-term vibrancy of Rivanna Station in Albemarle County.” 

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Chamber official details defense sector’s 1.2 billion impact on community

A new study has quantified the economic impact the military and defense sector plays in the region.

“We’re not manufacturing tanks, we’re not doing weapons systems,” said Lettie Bien, the program manager for the Defense Affairs Committee of the Charlottesville Regional Chamber of Commerce. “We’re not doing weapons systems. This is mostly intelligence, research and development.” 

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Proposed UVA capital plan includes $7 million for second-year housing initiative

The University of Virginia’s Board of Visitors meets four times a year with the most recent event having taken place the first week of March. The Buildings and Grounds Committee were presented with changes to the major capital plan for 2023. 

“We revise the capital plan every year,” said Colette Sheehy, Senior Vice President for Operations and State Government Relations. “We start out with this meeting as a conversation, a discussion, questions, anything.” 

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Home Depot submits plans for new retail center

Plus: Dunkin Donuts / Baskin Robbins coming to former Burger King on Pantops

Home Depot has filed plans with Albemarle County to demolish the building that formerly held a Sears store and replace it with a new retail store and garden center. The company purchased that property and much of the rest of Fashion Square Mall last year for $1.762 million. 

The use is by-right under the existing commercial zoning, but the Architectural Review Board must issue a Certificate of Appropriateness for it is within one of the county’s entrance corridors. 

Architects and engineers with the firm Kimley Horn have put together a site plan for a 134,262 square foot building that also shows the reconfiguration of parking spaces on the site. 

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CvilleBioHub awarded $100,000 for CvilleBioLab

Several technology groups across the Fifth District have been awarded funding from the Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development’s GO Virginia grant program. GO stands for Growing Opportunities. 

  • Lynchburg Career Acceleration program: A nonprofit called Lynchburg Beacon of Hope has been awarded $540,000 for something called the Career Acceleration Model which is described as “a regional catalyst for the Lynchburg region to create and fill a pipeline of career-seekers that will meet the needs of high-demand traded sector industries.” Beacon of Hope is a partnership between city schools and local business and the idea is to create 112 internships serving 24 businesses. (Region 2)
  • Center of Entrepreneurship: The Lynchburg Regional Business Alliance has been awarded $240,192 for a physical space that “will provide local entrepreneurs with a shared workspace, increased access to capital, business development events, and training and development support, as well as a support services network.” This will create 42 jobs serving 20 businesses. (Region 2)
  • Southside Virginia Community College (SVCC) Expanding GO TEC Pathways: SVCC has been awarded $139,732 to help increase dual enrollment to train people in the mechatronics industry. I will admit I had to look up what “mechatronics” means. The goal is to train 45 students and award over 165 credentials. (Region 3)
  • CvilleBioLab: CvilleBioHub is a nonprofit that seeks to double the size of the biotech industry in the area around Charlottesville by 2030. They were awarded $100,000 to help open a new “wet lab incubator and accelerator that will be available to emerging biotechnology firms in the region.” (Region 9) 
  • Metal Workforce Training Center: The Economic Development Authority for the Town of Bedford was awarded $99,900 for the creation of something called the Regional Metal Workforce Retention Center. This will “refine a public-private business model that encourages corporate participation and facilitates the expansion of the Central Virginia Community College (CVCC) Career Technical Education (CTE) Academy, filling the institutional gap between formal certificate-level training and the specific skills needed by local industries.” (Region 2)
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City manager’s report: Collective bargaining process soon to begin

Yesterday’s Week Ahead newsletter was too long to feature anything from a very informative section of the agenda for tonight’s City Council. Here are some highlights from the city government in Charlottesville from the March 6 report from interim city manager Michael C. Rogers.  (read the report)

  • For some reason, the top item is an announcement of nonstop flights from Charlottesville to Orlando from the Charlottesville Regional Airport beginning on May 3. Direct flights to Philadelphia on Americans Airlines begin on April 4. 
  • The city has hired a Labor Relations Administrator to serve as the negotiator in the forthcoming collective bargaining between employees and management. Sarah Miller Espinoza has also performed similar duties in Fairfax County and the city of Alexandria. The city has hired Jimmy Morani to represent management. Espinoza will lay out the rules for the petition and election process in 21 days. Councilors are to be trained by someone from the firm Venable today. 
  • Mark your calendars for a strategic planning retreat for City Council on May 5 and May 6. The North Carolina-based firm Raftelis was hired in January to work on the document which has been delayed a few years. 
  • There’s one more week to submit a poster for a contest honoring the 50th anniversary of the City Market. Learn more about that in my story from February 15, 2023. The market season will begin on April 1. 
  • The window is open for elderly and disabled community members to apply for relief from real property taxes and will close on May 1. See the image below for criteria or visit the Commissioner of Revenue’s section of the city’s website
  • A request for proposals is expected to go out this month for a firm to assist Charlottesville Area Transit in providing microtransit service in Albemarle with service anticipated for the summer. Learn more about the program from this article I wrote on February 14, 2023.
  • Fifteen percent of city staff failed an email phishing campaign in February, the same rate as the previous training exercise. 
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Council holds first reading of $500K payment to New Hill for BEACON kitchen

Tonight, Council will have the second reading of a proposal to give half a million to a nonprofit organization outside of the budget cycle for an economic development project. 

“This is BEACON, which stands for Black Entrepreneurial Advancement and Community Opportunity Network,”  said Yolunda Harrell, the CEO of the New Hill Development Corporation. “What we are seeking to develop is a shared-use commercial kitchen and incubator in Charlottesville.” 

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Survey launches for Charlottesville economic development plan

The city of Charlottesville is creating a new plan to guide economic development activities and has hired the firm Resonance Consultancy to create the document. As part of that work, a survey has been launched to get input from the public. 

“The City of Charlottesville is creating an Economic Development Strategic Plan to provide strategic direction for the City’s economic development efforts by identifying key opportunities for future growth and partnerships and recommend place-based development strategies for the City’s future development,” reads the introduction to the survey

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Vacant storefronts filling in at Barracks Road Shopping Center

The Charlottesville Office of Economic Development keeps track of six areas across the city to see how well storefronts are doing. Filled or empty? The latest figures were released earlier this month. (view the report)

The study looks at the Downtown Mall, the Corner, Barracks Road Shopping Center, McIntire Plaza, Preston Plaza, and Seminole Square. The report only looks at the ground floor and does not include vacancies if a space is being renovated for a future tenant. Vacant office spaces are also not counted.

The January 2023 vacancy report from the Office of Economic Development
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New Albemarle businesses: Progress made toward Praha Bohemian Bakery in Crozet

For now, anyone who seeks to do business in Albemarle has to check with Community Development to make sure the use is permitted. A review of these zoning clearances can yield a lot of information, and here’s a little of what I learned. 

  • A Carytown Tobacco franchise has been approved for a 1,530 square foot unit within the Fifth Street Landing complex on Fifth Street Extended. This is in the same center as a Starbucks and a Christian’s Pizza. The county approved the use on January 17 but noted a building permit is still needed for the unfinished space. 
  • Community Development staff have also signed off on a zoning clearance for Praha Bohemian Bakery and Cafe in the former Crozet Tack and Saddle space at 5778 Three Notch’d Road. Learn more in a January 16 article in the Crozet Gazette.
  • A non-contact program called Rock Steady Boxing wants to operate in 2,500 square feet of space formerly held by the Charlottesville Ballet. The application describes the program as being for people with Parkinson’s Disease. 
  • A non-profit group has filed for a clearance to operate a dance space in Fashion Square Mall in the space where a Charlotte Russe franchise formerly operated. 

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 January 25, 2023 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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