City Planning Commission Grants Special Use Permit for New Entertainment Venue at Former Gravity Lounge Site

By: Justin West, Charlottesville Field Officer Intern

Just a few months after local entertainment venue Gravity Lounge closed its doors, the Charlottesville Planning Commission has granted a Special Use Permit (SUP) allowing for a new ownership group to open The Southern Café and Music Hall in its place. The new entertainment destination will move into the vacated Downtown Mall side street space at 101 and 103 South 1st Street and is slated to begin operations in late September.

The applicants received little Commission resistance during their Joint Public Hearing on June 14th. The only significant debate centered on what hour was appropriate for The Southern Café to stop all sound, vibration, and odor causing activities. This was a particularly relevant issue because the building that will house the venue has residences on its top floor. After some discussion the Commission agreed that The Southern should be held to the same standard as all comparable nighttime entertainment locations prohibiting noise after 2 am. The discussion may have been moot however, as Virginia Alcoholic Beverage Control Laws prohibit on premises sale and consumption of alcohol after 2 a.m. anyway. As discussion wound to a close the Special Use Permit necessary for the venue to open was granted by a unanimous vote.

Site Plan for New Oakhurst Inn and Apartments Approved

Tenth and Main L.L.C. received unanimous support and some praise for the preliminary site plan of its redevelopment of parts of Oakhurst Circle and JPA into Oakhurst Inn and Apartments. The plan is to convert three apartment buildings at 100, 102, and 104 Oakhurst Circle and one single family home at 1616 Jefferson Park Avenue into a 27 room Bed and Breakfast and a 36 unit apartment complex with a 47 space parking garage. The Commission has been working with the developer extensively over the course of the planning of this project and seemed quite impressed with the steps Tenth and Main has taken in response to PC feedback. Commissioner Michael Osteen expressed his appreciation claiming “the applicant and their designers have gone out of their way to make this a successful project”.

Southside Builders Supply Given SUP for Masonry Supply Yard on Harris Road

Southside Builders Supply, a masonry supplier out of Richmond, received a Special Use Permit on June 14th allowing them to use their property at 900 and 902 Harris Road as an outdoor masonry supply yard. The company sees this location as a temporary site, which they hope to only use for only one or two years.

Though the proceedings went fairly smoothly for the applicant, one point of concern for the Commission was noise and traffic generated from delivery and pickup at the site. Commissioner Cheri Lewis voiced the most concern over this aspect of the new supply yard. With her prodding the Commissioners agreed to not only place limitations on the hours in which deliveries could be made to the location, but also to cap how early and late audible noise could emanate from the site. The original suggestion for these limitations was to prohibit deliveries and noise before 7 a.m. and after 6 p.m. however, Southside’s representatives insisted there were practical reasons for why the restrictions needed to be expanded, leading the Commissioners to expand the workable day from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. With that issue resolved the SUP was granted quite easily, with Michael Farruggio remarking “I think this is a perfect use [for this property]”, citing its conformity to the nature of the light industrial neighborhood that is Harris Road, compliance with the Comprehensive Plan, and the possibility that is could promote economic growth in the area.

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