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Charlottesville board supports apartment building near historic home

A Charlottesville review panel supports a planned new apartment building next to a historic home near the University of Virginia.

The Board of Architectural Review held a preliminary discussion of the proposal for 605 Preston Place during its virtual meeting on Tuesday.

The property is home to a house known as Wyndhurst, which was built in 1857 as the manor house of a 100-acre farm that is now the Preston Heights section of the city.

The board denied a previous proposal to construct a 25-space parking lot in the rear yard of the structure in October 2019. The property owner appealed the decision, but it was upheld by the City Council in December 2019.

Wyndhurst has nine apartment units, according to city real estate records.

Mitchell Matthews Architects, which is leading the design, has proposed an eight-unit apartment building with 15 parking spaces behind the existing home.

The proposal would have six four-bedroom apartments, two of which would be in Wyndhurst, one three-bedroom unit and one two-bedroom unit.

“We just wanted you involved as early as possible and we just hope the project will benefit from getting the discussion going sooner rather than later,” said Kevin Riddle of Mitchell Matthews Architects.

The proposal is a by-right use of the property and is only subject to BAR approval because it is in an architectural design control district. Developers frequently bring ideas to the board to gauge potential success before finalizing applications.

“Fundamentally, this is way more interesting than the parking lot ever was,” said board member Tim Mohr.

Board member Breck Gastinger said he was “very opposed” to the original parking lot proposal because it didn’t work well with Wyndhurst.

“I feel like this very much is something that we could consider,” he said of the new project. “I think very much it’s a kind of scheme that could work well and enhance this neighborhood.”

A few board members were concerned that two parking spaces in the design were very close to the historic home. Other questions focused around smaller design elements.

“It looks to me like you are still trying to fill the site with as many parking spaces as you can,” said board member Carl Schwarz.

Schwarz said the new building seemed a little large, but acknowledged that the renderings were preliminary.

The BAR did not take any action because the proposal was only brought for preliminary discussion. Once the application is finalized, it will come before the board for formal approval.

The board was also scheduled to have a preliminary discussion of a project at 217 5th St. Southwest to rehabilitate the Barksdale-Coles House and raze outbuildings on the property. The discussion was pulled from the agenda at the applicant’s request.


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