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Albemarle panel gives feedback on Sheetz, Starbucks drive-thru proposals

The first Sheetz and a third Starbucks drive-thru could be coming to Albemarle County.

At the county Architectural Review Board’s virtual meeting Monday, board members provided feedback on the proposals.

A Sheetz is proposed for an area near the intersection of U.S. 29 and Airport Road, across from where a Wawa — like Sheetz, a Pennsylvania-headquartered convenience store and gas station chain — is being built.

The application for Sheetz was deferred to hold a work session to address concerns about the site plan layout, which proposed an approximately 6,000-square-foot building, a 4,860-square-foot fuel pump canopy and a 1,000-square-foot car wash on three parcels totaling almost three acres.

The submitted layout has the proposed fuel canopy close to U.S. 29, with the convenience store behind the pumps.

“The store building should be relocated closer to the intersection of Route 29 and Airport Road to give it a greater presence on the corridors,” county planner Khris Taggart told the ARB.

There had been a number of issues with the Wawa site, including the size and location of the fuel canopy. Ultimately, the canopy will be located in front of the Wawa building along U.S. 29.

“I think all the elements that were an issue with Wawa will be an issue here, as well,” said board member Frank Stoner. “I just want to make sure we’re consistent.”

Lee May, an engineering permit manager for Sheetz, showed the board and staff some sketches where the building could be flipped with the canopy and moved closer to the intersection. In one sketch, the drive-thru lane could wrap around the building and face U.S. 29.

“Now, we can do things to enhance it, but it’s never going to be the front of the store, no matter how much we try to modify it,” May said.

The work session has not yet been scheduled.

The 29th Place shopping center Starbucks, near the intersection of U.S. 29 and Berkmar Drive, is proposed to relocate to the other end of the building, which currently houses a Mattress Warehouse, and a drive-thru would be added.

The Starbucks locations at Pantops and on Fifth Street in Albemarle also have drive-thrus. Last year, the Charlottesville City Council approved a special-use permit for a drive-thru window for a Starbucks at the former Wells Fargo bank off U.S. 29 near Best Buy.

An existing site entrance on U.S. 29 would be closed.

ARB members asked about the proposal to add black accents to the 29th Place building, which does not currently exist nor match the rest of the shopping center.

“We were concerned because all of the signs have white lettering, that if we went too light that the signs would kind of disappear,” said Christine McGuirl, director of development at Federal Realty Investment Trust, which owns the shopping center.

She said they could explore alternate colors, which many of the board members supported.

“I think the site plan is really great and creative in using the underutilized back to incorporate a drive thru,” ARB member Frank Hanock said.

The proposal will need to come before the board again for review.

Source: www.dailyprogress.com

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