Engineer Chris Fuller first came up with the idea for Bamboo Grove when the design and energy consulting firm he works for, Staengl Engineering, moved from downtown Charlottesville to Crozet. The housing options near his new office were not at all what Fuller was looking for, so he decided to build his own on Orchard Drive.Fuller’s interests mix sustainability and affordability. He helped plan the cohousing community EcoVillage Charlottesville, which is wrapping up the final stages of approval with Albemarle County. Staengl Engineering is designing an energy-efficient mechanical, electrical and plumbing system for Friendship Court and has done the same for other low-income housing developer clients. Fuller said that his initial plan on Orchard Drive was to build two “super green” houses with accessory units that could function like two additional houses. However, Fuller realized that costs and zoning tilted towards building two $500,000 houses on the site instead.

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“I talked to a lot of builders and the price was absurd,” Fuller said. “I can’t even come close to affording that.” Fuller felt discouraged about what could be done with the property he had bought until he spoke with Justin Shimp, of Shimp Engineering, and Nicole Scro, of the development company Gallifrey. They encouraged him to get the property rezoned to make a pocket neighborhood work.Pocket neighborhoods, also known as cottage or bungalow courts, group smaller-scale houses around a common garden or green. Fuller explained that Bamboo Grove would be like a smaller and similarly sustainable version of EcoVillage Charlottesville, where residents have to walk from their cars through the common space and interact with one another. Emerson Commons is another pocket neighborhood recently established in Crozet.Scro has tried small-scale neighborhoods elsewhere in Albemarle but has not been successful in getting through the rezoning process without butting up against neighborhood opposition or guidelines in the county’s Comprehensive Plan.The team’s plan of six small homes is two over the county’s vision for the property in its Comprehensive Plan, which is updated every few years based on community feedback. However, Fuller is hoping that designating those two homes as affordable and dedicating land for a public trail will offset that concern. “I don’t know what [the county is] going to say,” Fuller said. “Giving affordability the same footing as the Comprehensive Plan’s kind of arbitrary land use [categories] – which is more important to the county? I hope that that’s a question that this project is really pointing out.”

  • address: Orchard Drive, north of intersection of Jarmans Gap Road
  • scale: six two-story houses on 1.24 acres
  • price points: $240,000 to $420,000
  • affordability requirement: one required but two houses provided for up to $260,000 each
  • amenities: central green space, patio, car and bicycle parking, connection to trail
  • next steps: Crozet Community Advisory Committee meeting
Louise co-founders Ashley Florence (left) and Heather Sieg lean on their storefront on Friday, Dec. 6, one day before the store’s opening. Credit: Credit: Emily Hays/Collectbritain Credit: Credit: Emily Hays/Collectbritain

CBD boutique opens in new West Main apartment complex

Two Charlottesville women hoping to bring some Southeastern style into the hemp industry are starting that journey on West Main Street. Heather Sieg and Ashley Florence opened Louise on Saturday in the new Six Hundred West Main luxury apartment complex. Blue Moon Diner has already reopened in its historic location, which Six Hundred West Main renovated and built around. Louise is in the complex’s second retail space.The shop sells CBD products from lip glosses to lollipops to extracts meant to improve sleep, sex, mental clarity, pain and more. CBD, or cannabidiol, is one of the chemicals derived from the cannabis plant that does not cause a high.The shop is laid out like Sieg and Florence’s dream apartment, they said. Customers move from the CBD and skincare bar to the lounge area, which has a counter of vibrators and other sex products. They hope to eventually take their healthy plus fun brand to other cities. “It’s like taking that into the everyday — making the everyday more meaningful and more fun and more passionate and more pleasurable,” Florence said. The federal government removed restrictions on CBD in 2018 as long as it comes from hemp plants with low levels of THC, the chemical that causes highs and still is federally illegal. However, the Food and Drug Administration has warned that it considers infusing CBD in food illegal and that the research on the safety of the chemical is still very limited. Sieg and Florence said that they look at the certificates and lab results of the CBD products they sell and try to choose their selection of brands carefully. The founders said that they look for women-, LGBTQ- and minority-run small businesses as well. One example is the explicitly genderless makeup line NOTO. Other shops that sell CBD products in town include Sweet ReLeaf on the Downtown Mall and Higher Education on West Main.

  • address: 608 W. Main St.
  • scale: 1,000 square foot shop on one floor
  • rent: above premium rent rates, according to Sieg and Florence
  • price points: $4 lip balm to $400 crystal bowl imported from Germany
  • amenities: lounge
  • hours: open Tuesday through Sunday
Townhouses (represented in orange) would line South First Street while apartments (represented in yellow) would bookend the neighborhood on Elliott Avenue and Hartmans Mill Road. Credit: Credit: BRW Architects Credit: Credit: BRW Architects

Resident plan for South First Street goes to City Council

South First Street residents are one step closer to redeveloping their public housing neighborhood according to the plan they have created. The Charlottesville Planning Commission unanimously recommended the special-use permit required for the plan to the City Council for a final vote. The permit would allow playgrounds, basketball courts and other outdoor recreational facilities in the redeveloped neighborhood, as well as allow the placement of buildings that the residents have decided on. The commission previously had heard the resident planners present on the goals and final design for their future neighborhood, and the body remained complimentary on Tuesday night.

  • location: 900-1000 S. First St.
  • scale: 113 one- to five-bedroom townhomes and apartments
  • amenities: clubhouse, non-residential space, basketball court, bicycle parking
  • next steps: Charlottesville City Council vote planned for Jan. 6
Charlottesville is planning to build a parking garage on East Market Street, one block down from the existing Market Street Garage. Credit: Credit: Kimley-Horn/City of Charlottesville Credit: Credit: Kimley-Horn/City of Charlottesville

Planning Commission opposes funding for second Market Street garage

Advocates for affordable housing, sidewalks, bicycle lanes, parks and trees showed up in force to the city Planning Commission meeting on Tuesday to argue for more funding for their causes. The commission largely agreed with commenters and did not recommend approval of City Manager Tarron Richardson’s Capital Improvement Program for the fiscal year that ends in 2021. In exchange for more funding for housing, trees and bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure, the commission recommended that the City Council minimize funding to build a garage on Market Street where a parking lot, the Lucky 7 convenience store and Guadalajara are now. The council voted unanimously last week for the next step required to build the garage, which fulfills the city’s agreement with Albemarle County to keep its courts complex in downtown Charlottesville. Opponents of the plan, like commissioner Rory Stolzenberg, said that the agreement could be fulfilled without building a new garage, which would account for $4.9 million of next year’s budget and $5.1 million the following year.

  • address: 701 and 801 E. Market St.
  • scale: 300 parking spaces, maximum of 45 feet tall
  • estimated construction cost: $8.5 million
  • amenities: street-front retail
Chick-fil-A, Inc. has submitted an application to the city of Charlottesville to convert a Burger King restaurant in the Barracks Road Shopping Center to a Chick-fil-A. Credit: Credit: Submitted rendering Credit: Credit: Submitted rendering

Commission recommends drive-thru for Chick-fil-A

The first public step required for Chick-fil-A Inc. to set up a restaurant in the Barracks Road Shopping Center has gone the company’s way. The Charlottesville Planning Commission recommended Chick-fil-A’s application to build a drive-thru in the shopping center. Commissioners Lisa Green and Gary Heaton voted against the drive-thru. Commissioner Taneia Dowell had left the late meeting to be with her child. Green argued that a drive-thru works against the city’s environmental and walkability goals. City staff has worked to make sure the restaurant would improve sidewalks and traffic on the property, which is where Burger King and its drive-thru are now. The Chick-fil-A drive-thru could hold up to 60 cars without affecting other streets or businesses.

  • address: 1000 N. Emmet St.
  • estimated menu prices: $3.75 chicken sandwich to $8.19 southwestern-style salad
  • next steps: Charlottesville City Council meeting

Emily Hays grew up in Charlottesville and graduated from Yale in 2016. She covered growth, development, and affordable living. Before writing for Collectbritain, she produced a podcast on education and caste in Maharashtra, India.