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Architectural panel gives early approval of Albemarle Business Campus

An Albemarle County board approved an initial site plan for a business campus and the preliminary design for a self-storage building that is part of a project at the intersection of Old Lynchburg Road and Fifth Street Extended.

At the county Architectural Review Board’s virtual meeting Monday, board members supported an initial site plan of the Albemarle Business Campus and recommended some changes to a building that will have a self-storage business and a retail spot.

“The applicant intends to develop the block with the storage building first,” said Margaret Maliszewski, a county planning manager. “The plan is to clear and grade the entire site at the time the storage block is developed.”

A rezoning was approved for the project — which includes housing and commercial development — in October. The main property is planned to have the storage unit building, retail, an office building and a hotel, while apartments will be located across Old Lynchburg Road.

The developer had proposed windows with a vinyl film covering on the side of the building, which the county’s guidelines do not support.

Gretchen Elton, the architect for this portion of the project, said they had proposed an alternative to help break up the facade.

“What’s behind here would be either a metal or a plywood panel that would prevent somebody from shoving a piece of furniture through that glass and out the window,” she said. “That’s why our alternative is to provide solid wall construction with just an [exterior insulation and finish system] panel that would still break up the overall facade, but would also protect the contents of the building from any damage from customers.”

ARB member Fred Missel said they should consider adding another column in the middle of the wall instead of the windows.

“You may be able to get away without the windows, because of the distance,” he said.

The site plan and building will still need approval on the final versions in the future.


The board also again reviewed a planned Sheetz at the intersection of U.S. 29 and Airport Road.

Board members provided the Sheetz planning team with more feedback about the size of the gas canopy, the size of an entrance tower and style of signs.

Staff had recommended that the gas canopy be brought down six inches, but board members said they were fine with the height.

“I think the canopy is nice as it’s designed and I don’t need it to come down six inches,” ARB member Frank Hancock said. “I think, architecturally, it looks nice. It’s definitely a concession and different from the kind of a prototype that I think we saw at the beginning.”

The ARB also asked that they change the color of the ice machine, or that it be relocated, and that other items for sale outside be located behind already-proposed fencing.

“I don’t have a lot of heartburn over the ice machine and the other stuff,” ARB member Frank Stoner said. “I think if it can be colored perhaps a little bit more compatibly with the building, that would be great, but I think the point that was made is a good one and that is you’re going to have parking in front of all those spaces. Most of the time you’re not even going to be able to see that stuff.”

The board also asked that a proposed tower over the entrance be made more prominent.


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