Kurt Walters


Tuesday, December 6, 2011

The Albemarle County Architectural Review Board moved a planned Trader Joe’s grocery store at Stonefield one step closer to construction on Monday with a 3-2 vote approving the building’s brick color.

The brick facing the intersection of U.S. 29 and Hydraulic Road had emerged as a sticking point after the board asked Stonefield’s developers to reconsider their choice of white painted brick. The developer returned in November with an off-white and unpainted brick selection.

That meeting, however, ended in a 2-2 stalemate, with two members objecting to the brick remaining any shade of white and the other two finding the avoidance of paint to be adequate. Bruce Daggett, the absent fifth board member in November, cast the tie-breaking vote Monday to approve the brick selection, named “white stone.”

“I had supported the painted brick all along and I did so because I thought it gave the building some continuity in terms of color,” Daggett said. “Adding this brick is okay, but I think that if we allowed it to be painted, it would make the entire composition more cohesive.”

This approval represents the last in a round of reviews that Edens & Avant, the South Carolina firm developing Stonefield, had requested for their project’s first phase. However, the nine buildings in that batch will still need final approval for signs, awnings and lighting.

Board members Charles Lebo and Paul Wright stayed resolute in their opposition to the white brick color, with Lebo citing the white coloring of Fashion Square Mall, which he said looked “aged and dirty.”

Wright also said that the choice of the off-white brick color would make the white stucco columns at an adjacent corner of the building inappropriate. Edens & Avant architect Stan Haas said, though, that if one board imperative leads to another, these “snowballing” requests could make it extremely difficult to keep an architectural vision for the project.

“It’s a slippery slope guys,” Haas said. “The brick has changed because of your request. If that becomes the catalyst to look at the other columns, I just remind us that there is an overall palette for eight other buildings [to maintain].”

Bruce Wardell, a “yes” vote for the brick color, said that the difference in colors between those two corners of the building actually improved the design. He earlier had feared that the two U.S. 29-facing corners looked too similar to justify being made of two different materials, brick and stucco, rather than one.

Ultimately board chairman Fred Missel joined Wardell and Daggett to solidify a three-vote majority approving the “white stone” brick choice, with a to-be-determined complementary mortar color.

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