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Former Charlottesville city manager Hendrix, who championed Downtown Mall, dies

Cole Hendrix, the former Charlottesville city manager who oversaw the creation of the Downtown Mall, the Omni Charlottesville Hotel and the Rivanna Water and Sewer Authority, has died.

Hendrix passed away on Tuesday evening, according to a city press release. He was 88.

“Cole will be missed,” states the release, “but will be remembered for his many contributions to our city.”

Hendrix served as Charlottesville city manager from 1971 to 1996. As he stepped into the role, he was faced with the prospective project that would become Charlottesville’s Downtown Mall. Although the germ of a pedestrian mall had begun before Hendrix’s tenure, he championed the development’s potential to become a vital part of life in the city.

“What’s at stake is more than just any individual’s downtown business,” said Hendrix in a 1974 city council hearing. “What’s at stake is the whole downtown as it relates to the community.”

The Mall experienced some growing pains after its 1976 debut, such as when two department stores opted to move their wares to the Fashion Square Mall in 1980. But Hendrix’s belief in the Downtown Mall’s promise, as well as his longevity as city manager, were instrumental to its success.

“Cole Hendrix and Satyendra Huja, the city manager and the city planner, were involved in the early planning and design and worked with the consultants for the mall in the 1970s. They stayed in those jobs until the ‘90s,” Beth Meyer, UVa professor of landscape architecture, told the Daily Progress in 2018. “I think if we had had a change of staff more frequently, somebody may have just given up on it.”

Hendrix wore many other hats during his decades of work in Central Virginia—as chairman of the Charlottesville Regional Airport Board of Directors; associate vice president for community relations at the UVa Health Sciences Center; and interim manager of the Rivanna Water and Sewer Authority and the Rivanna Solid Waste Authority, both of which were created during Hendrix’s time as Charlottesville city manager.

In 2013, Hendrix received the Paul Goodloe McIntire Citizenship Award during the Charlottesville Chamber of Commerce’s centennial dinner, celebrating his broad impact for the area.

“When you look at the things that Paul Goodloe McIntire stood for — the importance of place and the quality of life for a community — you see that it is particularly appropriate for Cole [Hendrix] to be honored with the award,” Leonard Sandridge, retired university executive vice president and chief operating officer, told the Daily Progress in 2013.

Upon receiving the award, Hendrix wasn’t one to hoard credit.

“I was blessed with good councils. There were, at times, a majority of Republicans, Republicans and Democrats and all Democrats, and what they all had in common was they were interested in what was best for the community,” Hendrix told the Daily Progress in 2013. “They didn’t come in with certain gripes or pre-determined ideas of what they were going to get done. They were open to ideas. That’s pretty rare in government.”

Hendrix also expressed gratitude for the city that he served.

“I had other opportunities, but never considered them seriously. This was a good place to be and a great place for my children to grow up. It was the right place for us.”

A visitation for Cole Hendrix will be held Sunday, Nov. 20 from 3 to 5 p.m. at Glenmore Clubhouse, 1750 Piper Way in Kenswick. A celebration of life will occur Monday, Nov. 21 at 10:00 a.m. at St. Paul’s Memorial Church, 1700 University Ave. in Charlottesville.


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