Wednesday, July 15, 2009

mixed use

"The proposed use is harmonious with those surrounding it."--staff

34-440(f) Industrial Corridor (IC): This district provides opportunities for large scale commercial uses and manufacturing or industrial type uses that are more compatible with the neighborhoods that surround the manufacturing properties.--municipal code

The City of Charlottesville is in search of candidates for appointment to the Planning Commission. Applications are due July 16th.
To apply, click here.
Planning Commissioner Cheri Lewis discusses prerequisites


Monday, July 13, 2009


The City of Charlottesville is in search of candidates for appointment to the Planning Commission. Applications are due July 16th.
To apply, click here.

Planning Commissioner Cheri Lewis discusses prerequisites


Tuesday, May 05, 2009

broken stairs


Saturday, April 25, 2009

broken green space

In nature, when colors occur, they are generally associated with sex or danger.
I am a black and white photographer, but often, b&w is unable speak to chromatic reality, to convey the sex, the danger, the horror, or simply the bad use of color employed in your average Mickey D's.
This 3+ million dollar municipal project did not have the benefit of our City's design review process.
It would look better in black and white.

(James Kunstler has a wonderful feature on his blog known as the eyesore of the month...)


Thursday, February 26, 2009

property rights

Went to a modern beach this past weekend, seashore, intersection of water and land.
It has been awhile since I've been to a beach.
The prevalent beach building pattern is rows of monumental condos.
The water was almost visible through gaps in the rampart of buildings.


Tuesday, April 15, 2008

giant sucking sound


Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Post-mortem, paperweights

Dan Bluestone presented Councilors shattered roof tiles, paperweights, in memory of a day of destruction.

All cities contain areas, sites, or structures of architectural and/or historical interest or significance. Such structures and areas contribute to the particular uniqueness of each city and form an important part of that city's physical and cultural heritage which, if lost, cannot be replaced. The loss of its heritage deprives the city of its individuality. Unless means can be found to retain important structures and areas in urban areas, our communities face a future of historical and architectural sterility.--Satyendra Singh Huja, 1976

Day of Vandalism- audio, Dan Bluestone's comments before Charlottesville City Council, 1/7/08

Hard Questions- audio, Aaron Wunsch's comments before Charlottesville City Council, 1/7/08

The Charlottesville City Council has endorsed a series of recommendations by city staff to strengthen the protection of historic buildings within the City.- Charlottesville Tomorrow provides complete coverage


Thursday, December 27, 2007

Compton, Bradbury, Beta exeunt

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Compton House

124 Maury Avenue, Charlottesville, Virginia, still standing... The Hook has been following this property with stories and letters.


Thursday, July 05, 2007

bricks and mortar


Thursday, February 15, 2007

pave paradise

hendersonville road
In Tom Wolfe's hometown there is a residential development some locals call "zits on a mountain". It has a ridge-line component, houses on the hilltop. Hey! Look at me! I am rich!

Topography can be a silver lining or a cloud for the real estate developer. In the case of the Reynolds Mountain subdivision in Asheville, North Carolina, silver lining! Yes the road construction was difficult, but the residential views from on high! My oh my. Never mind the envious locals. They wish they had houses in "The Heights", "The Views", "The Summit", "Altamont" and "The Preserve".

For the developer of commercial property, hills are problematic. One can't simply, as the hippie chick said, pave paradise. Hills are a pain in the ass to pave. Got to strip the trees, cut and fill, flatten the hill, then pave.

Oh lost!


Wednesday, February 07, 2007

choking on a biscuit

Charlottesville City Councilors scheduled a tough session for themselves Monday night.
"Residential cut-through traffic" has been eroding the quality of life in City neighborhoods for years. The City is ringed with a doughnut of Cul-de-Sacville's. Mr. & Mrs. Cul-de-sac get where they are going by cutting through City neighborhoods.
If you want to motor from the newest sac (expected to generate 30,480 auto trips per day) to UVA, there are arterial roads available, but really, who can resist a short-cut?
Distressed citizens from many neighborhoods were on hand to speak at two public hearings.

When the meeting got down to chewing on the biscuit, I had three minutes of tape left. Apologies that the recorded comments are not complete. (sound bites- 185Kb)

Why do we allow the Automobile to rule? Some interesting listening on that topic:
Peter Norton speaks with Coy Barefoot
about his article "Street Rivals: Jaywalking and the Invention of the Motor Age Street," recently published in the Journal of Technology and Culture. Norton discusses the transition from streets being pedestrian-oriented to becoming the domain of the motorcar, and whose interests were really being served. He is also working on a book called "Fighting Traffic."


Wednesday, January 31, 2007

urban legend

I have a neighbor who makes broad verbal statements. Usually the statements contain a kernel of truth presented with a garnish of hyperbole.
My neighbor says there is an ancient law, passed by the Jefferson-enthusiastic people of Albemarle, which prohibits property owners from erecting structures on their land which obscure adjacent land-owners' views of Monticello Mountain. Monticello Mountain is the local Mount Olympus, home of third US President and Constitution author, Thomas Jefferson.
The "Little Mountain" visible through the steel superstructure above is Monticello. Jefferson died at home, on top of that hill, July 4, 1826.
Ah! If only there is a kernel of truth in this story! I checked, but the inviolate view of Mr. Jefferson's mountain is not a national urban legend.
Sadly, the view from Monticello, has been very negatively effected as well by the rush for development dollars. A visit to the mountaintop is a feast for the eye. There is a beautiful view to the east. The western view is largely obscured by trees, except for keyhole cut to reveal the University of Virginia.


Monday, January 29, 2007


Real estate developers come in all colors, shapes and sizes. One useful metric to apply when evaluating a r.e.d., does he/she live in the area under development? Will Red live in his development when the project is complete and the profits are banked?
Two interesting articles in the local media today on the subject.
The Washington Post weighs in with:

The Sleaze in Loudoun
Insiders get rich, and the public stays in the dark.

SMALL PLACES rapidly on their way to becoming big are often susceptible to opportunism, abuse and influence-peddling practiced by a closed circle of insiders...

The Charlottesville Daily Progress offers up:

Albemarle's double-edged growth tool
County's control over development scrutinized

Albemarle County?s new effort to direct growth not just into growth areas but within those areas has some developers scratching their heads, some even alarmed.

For more discussion visit Waldo Jacquith's Cville News

Brian Wheeler and Coy Barefoot talk about Charlottesville's growing pains:

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Wednesday, August 09, 2006

water quality

Advice to swimmers? Keep your mouths shut.

For more information on bodies of water in the Rivanna watershed visit Streamwatch

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Tuesday, July 25, 2006

the land game

My favorite thing about this picture are the tiny words below the plat of the new development:
"for illustrative purposes only, final site plan may vary."
True words, hear them!

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Saturday, June 03, 2006

Time's voice returned

Developer update.
The efforts of three earnest young men to carpet the backyard of Woolen Mill Village Lot #1 with dwelling units continue apace. Busy as beavers they are.
The proposed project's design has changed for the better, but its poison bolus aspects remain.
In a neighborhood that has been defined by its rural feel and folkways for 200 years the New Urbanist Trio hopes to install housing at a rate eight times as dense as the neighborhood average.
Once upon a time, a time miser lived in the house on top of the hill.
Did Jefferson fear time, did he love time? I suspect he danced with time. He always had a timepiece nearby, slept with a clock at the foot of his bed. He managed time as well as any human can.
He had this wonderful seven day clock mounted at his front door. Inside it told the day, the hour, the minute and the second. Outside the clock had an hour hand and an aural component. The clock is said to have audibly announced the hour, with a resounding gong.
How I would like time's voice returned.
In former days the sound was audible from the Mill Village.
Warren Graves yard, ground zero for the present volley from the development class, is closer to Monticello than to The Paramount.
The passage of time takes all sentient beings but it does not have to destroy the fabric of history.
"The Chinese have a thing made of a kind of bell metal, which they call a Gong, and is used as a bell at the gates of large houses, &c. It is in fact precisely of the shape and size of a camp oven, about 20. I. diameter and 5. I. deep . . . I wish for one to serve as the bell to a clock, which might be heard all over my farm. . ."--Th. Jefferson

(posts from the development front)

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Monday, May 01, 2006

Honey! Those men are in the yard again!

They say Thomas Jefferson never saw morris dancers.

They say Thomas Jefferson used to ride to Charlottesville by the short route, up the Rivanna Turnpike past the Mill at Pireus. If Jefferson had glanced to his right, 50 yards off the Rivanna Turnpike at 7:11:46 (Standard Time) this morning he would have finally seen them. Morris Men, seven of them, dancing on May day.

There are many traditions afoot in the Woolen Mills. NASCAR, African drums, meditators, piano players, artists, programmers, architects, bus drivers, retirees, carpenters, laborers, plumbers, lawyers...
We value the character and the diversity of our neighborhood.

Seven Men dancing in the backyard, that's ok (even if Th. Jefferson never saw them).

Seven dwelling units in the backyard? Not OK.

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Friday, April 21, 2006


Living in a free-standing house with a porch is a good thing.
That is the character of our neighborhood, single family homes. The blue squares up top, from left to right, are existing homes built in 1947, 1890, 1926, 1900, 1885, 1957 and 1957. The houses were built over time, as families expanded, children grew up and had children of their own. It was an organic growth that reflected the shifting fortunes of the Mill Village's residents.
The seven yellow squares are emblematic of a real estate developer's desire to get paid. Those are the "units" he hopes to build. Money in his pocket and walk away.
Help save the Woolen Mills!

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Friday, March 17, 2006


The hill in the background Monticello

I asked a planner/zoning administrator "when do real-estate developers characteristically have their "road to Damascus moment".
That moment when they are blinded by the light of self awareness. That moment when they realize they have made enough money, that it is time to give back to society.
His answer, they don't.
People without conscience can get a lot done.


Friday, January 27, 2006


I am thankful that there are locations in town off limits to the "infill development" marketeers.
Imagine the advertising copy:

Talented young builders with extensive experience with fine woodworking and craftsmanship are interested in building you a home. It begins on this open green with southern exposure and views to Monticello. Get in on the groundfloor of these new homes to be built in '06! The style and details will be defined by you!

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