STAFF PERSON:                                                                                              Sean Dougherty

PLANNING COMMISSION:                                                                    April 11, 2006

BOARD OF SUPERVISORS:                                                                  May 3, 2006                                                                                                                 

ZMA 2005-00010 Wachovia and Shops at Rio Road



The applicant is requesting a rezoning of 1.836 acres (the Wachovia Bank property) from CO to C-1 to allow for redevelopment of an adjacent property (zoned C-1) at the corner of Rio Road and Route 29. Specifically, the applicant would like to replace the Rio Road Superette and Heritage Memorials of Charlottesville with a new restaurant of 4,300 square feet and 11,000 square feet of retail. A rezoning of the bank property would be followed by a boundary line adjustment and the purchase of about one acre of land from the bank to support the developer’s plans for the adjacent property (Tax Map 61, Parcel 122A; Rio Superette and Heritage Memorials). No proffers accompany this request.



PROJECT: ZMA 2005-00010 Wachovia Bank and Shops at Rio Road.

PROPOSAL:  Rezone 1.836 acres from  CO (Commercial Office) zoning district which allows 15 units per acre to C-1 (Commercial) zoning district which allows 15 units per acre to allow a partial redevelopment of the site and accommodate redevelopment of an adjacent parcel (Tax Map 61, Parcel 122A). No residential uses are proposed with this rezoning.


EXISTING COMPREHENSIVE PLAN LAND USE/DENSITY:  Regional Service (regional-scale retail, wholesale, business and/or employment centers, and residential (6.01-34 units/acre) in Neighborhood One.


LOCATION: 1625 Seminole Trail (Wachovia Bank), near the southeastern corner of U.S. Rt. 29 and Rio Road.

TAX MAP/PARCEL: Tax Map 61, Parcel 122



Character of the Area: 

The parcel lies along Route 29 north and contains a Wachovia Bank near the intersection of Rio Road on an outparcel of the Fashion Square Mall. The parcel has access from Route 29 and Rio Road. The area is defined by Fashion Square, numerous highway commercial / strip development outlets including retail, banks, fast food, and the major roads mentioned.


By-right Use of the Property

The property is zoned CO - Commercial Office. CO districts permit development of administrative, business and professional offices and supporting accessory uses and facilities. This district is intended as a transition between residential districts and other more intensive commercial and industrial districts. The current use is a 3,500 square foot bank with three drive-up bays. The bank utilizes roughly half of the parcel. The other half, roughly an acre which also provides access to the bank from Rio Road, could be developed with uses allowed in CO. (Uses permitted in CO include: administrative and business offices; professional offices, including medical, dental and optical; financial institutions; churches, cemeteries; libraries, museums; accessory uses and structures incidental to the principal uses provided herein (copy centers, food service, etc for employees only); ethical pharmacies, laboratories and establishments for the production, fitting and/or sale of optical or prosthetic appliances on sites containing medical, dental or optical offices; sale/service of goods associated with the principal use; public uses and buildings including temporary or mobile facilities such as schools, offices, parks, playgrounds and roads; temporary construction uses; dwellings; temporary nonresidential mobile homes; day care, child care or nursery facility; tier I and tier II personal wireless service facilities. A number of uses are permitted by special use permit, including funeral homes, schools of special instruction, hotels, motels, and inns, research and development activities, and indoor athletic facilities.)


Specifics of the Proposal

Attachment A provides a location map. Attachment B is the rezoning plan. Attachment C contains renderings and perspective illustrations, and Attachment D contains a diagram illustrating the sequence that will allow the redevelopment the applicant is proposing. The proposal aims to rezone one parcel to support redevelopment of another parcel. The parcel being rezoned from CO to C-1 will be referred to as the “bank parcel”. The parcel upon which redevelopment is aided by the rezoning will be referred to as the “corner parcel” (currently C-1). This corner parcel currently contains the Rio Road Superette and Heritage Memorials of Charlottesville.  By rezoning the bank property to C-1, the applicant will be able to utilize two contiguous parcels with like zoning classifications to prepare a coordinated site plan for both parcels. Should the rezoning be approved, the boundary of each parcel will be adjusted by the applicant. The proposal for the redevelopment of the corner parcel includes demolishing the Rio Superette and Heritage Memorials. It has been determined that these structures are not historically significant.   


Applicant’s Justification for the Request:   

The applicant’s justification is that this rezoning will allow for the corner to be redeveloped in a manner that is coordinated with the bank property. This will better meet the goals of the Entrance Corridor overlay district and Comprehensive Plan.


Planning and Zoning History:  

Prior to 1980, the parcel was zoned “Commercial Business”. In 1980 the parcel was designated “Commercial Office” to be consistent with new zoning definitions and in support of the bank, which also served as a bank operations center with offices.


Comprehensive Plan:

The Land Use Plan designates this area as Regional Service. This designation also covers the entire Fashion Square Mall. The land use designation across Route 29 is also regional service. The Regional Service Land Use designates the following (in italics):


Uses allowed within this designation include regional-scale commercial, regional malls, medical centers, mixed-use developments, hotel/motel/conference facilities, professional and corporate offices, interstate interchange developments and uses providing retail, wholesale, business, and/or employment services to Albemarle County and the region.


Given the small size of the parcels, staff believes the applicant has responded appropriately to this designation by incorporating the bank with a redevelopment to include retail and a restaurant.


Areas designated as Regional Service typically encompass a large site (+ 30 acres), arterial road accessibility, water and sewer availability, and compatibility with adjacent land uses. Both vehicular and pedestrian interconnections are expected to nearby residential areas.


These features are in place and are more appropriately associated with the Fashion Square parcel than the 1.836-acre subject parcel.


A mixture of Urban Density Residential uses and community service uses is anticipated within this designation.


Urban Density Residential is in place to the east of Fashion Square in Abington Crossing and Glenwood Station. The size and location of the subject property near the intersection of Route 29 and Rio Road suggests residential development is not appropriate. Staff believes the applicant has responded to the general recommendations found in the Comprehensive Plan.


Specific, applicable recommendations for this property contained in the Neighborhood One recommendations of the Comprehensive Plan are as follows:


Future development plans along Route 29 North are to be sensitive to its status as

an Entrance Corridor Roadway.


 Transportation improvements include:

- Provide landscaping, walkways and bicycle facilities along Route 29 to

enhance this corridor as the County’s major business district.


Staff believes the applicant has responded to these specific recommendations


Architectural Review Board

The ARB reviewed the applicant’s current proposal on February 6 and were pleased with the applicant’s revisions. To clarify the acceptability of the building and parking location, the ARB forwarded the following to the Planning Commission with respect to the rezoning and overall treatment of both parcels:


The ARB has no objection to the proposed building location or parking location illustrated on Sheet C2.0 dated June 27, 2005 entitled “Site Layout for Wachovia Bank at Shops at Rio” by Hurt & Proffit Inc.


Rezoning Plan

The applicant has not committed to the key features of this plan. Therefore, there is no guarantee within C-1 zoning that this rezoning will not result in a different plan for the site. The key features staff considers important are:



Other matters, such as landscaping and architectural detail, will be brought before the ARB during the site plan stage. The most practical mechanism for guaranteeing the important key features will accompany the site’s redevelopment would be to proffer the plan. Alternatively, the applicant could commit to these features in proffers.


In discussing these options with the applicant, he indicated he is not interested in proffering the plan because that may make it more problematic for him to alter or further develop the property in the future. The applicant further indicated he would like to make that decision based on feedback from the Commission during the public hearing. The following comment is offered based on the applicant’s rezoning plan as submitted (without commitment).


Places 29 Masterplan

The Places 29 Masterplan coordinator has reviewed the applicant’s redevelopment concept and has indicated that the proposal is in keeping with the Masterplan’s Guiding principles and the emerging themes of that study.


Conformity with the Neighborhood Model and Guidelines:


Pedestrian Orientation

The applicant is providing a pedestrian connection from the southeast corner of the site (closest to Fashion Square Mall) in support of pedestrian connectivity. The applicant is providing sidewalks along Route 29 and connecting into both parcels which include ample pedestrian facilities internal to the parcel. The plan illustrates pedestrian connections between the proposed retail / restaurant building and the existing Wachovia Bank. Staff believes this response is appropriate but seeks a commitment to these concepts in addition to those discussed in this section.

Neighborhood Friendly Streets and Paths

No new streets are proposed. The travelway extending from the entrance on Route 29 provides a connection to Fashion Square. By not offering a direct route, but requiring several turns, the plan works to reduce the speeds of cut-through traffic. The rezoning plan identifies pedestrian crosswalks across/through travelways.

Interconnected Streets and Transportation Networks

The proposal includes one vehicular and one pedestrian connection to Fashion Square. This is an adequate response to the Neighborhood Model given the site’s location and constraints

















Parks and Open Space

The proposal for the restaurant (at the corner on the corner parcel) may include outdoor seating. The scope of this request does not warrant the provision of parks or open space.

Neighborhood Centers

The proposal is adjacent to Fashion Square Mall, which serves as a neighborhood center. The pedestrian connection at the southeast corner of the site will work to activate a better relationship between the center and these outparcels.

Buildings and Spaces of Human Scale

The applicant proposes buildings and spaces of human scale. The proposed redevelopment of the corner property includes buildings that are 24 feet tall with 33 foot tall tower elements that include clerestory windows. See Attachment C for a perspective illustration of the applicant’s proposal for the site’s redevelopment. The combined parcels are roughly 240X650 feet and relatively flat. Therefore, the entire site is contained within a reasonable walking distance at a pedestrian-friendly grade.  

Relegated Parking

Relegated parking is considered that which is located behind and to the side of buildings. This proposal places the building on the corner property along the road and moves parking toward the rear. The applicant has achieved an appropriate response to this principle.

Mixture of Uses

The uses on both parcels will now include a bank, a restaurant, and almost 11,000 square feet of retail. This represents a good mix of uses for a relatively small site.


The rezoning of the bank parcel will allow for the redevelopment of the corner parcel, representing an excellent response to the Neighborhood Model.

Site Planning that Respects Terrain

The parcel is relatively flat and the proposed development responds appropriately to it.

Clear Boundaries with the Rural Areas

The parcel is far from the edge of the Development Area. This principle does not apply.


Staff Comment:

Relationship between the application and the purpose and intent of the requested zoning district

The rezoning is a change from CO: Commercial Office to C-1: Commercial. Relatively speaking, this is a shift in zoning rather than an outright change. However, the change does allow for additional uses on the subject property. The additional uses allowed in C-1, but not permitted in CO are retail sales, clubs and lodges, health spas, indoor theaters, laundromats and cleaners, day care, restaurants, tailors, automobile service stations, medical centers, automobile repair shops, indoor athletic facilities, and farmer’s market.


The existing surrounding zoning is a mix of primarily HC – Highway Commercial and PDSC – Planned District Shopping Center. The Fashion Square Mall and Albemarle Square developments are zoned Planned PDSC. The quadrants at the south west and northwest corner of Route 29 and Rio are zoned HC Highway Commercial. This classification extends roughly 400 feet to the west of 29 and north and south of the Rio intersection about 500 feet.


The applicant’s proposal of retail and a restaurant, in addition to the existing bank is in keeping with the intent of C-1 Commercial. Highway Commercial (HC) and Planned District Shopping Center (PDSC) are also possible zoning districts which could support the desired redevelopment. C-1 Commercial is more limited that HC or PDSC.


The application plan also eliminates the current entrance to the superette on Route 29, which will generate some improvement for the traffic flow off of Route 29 northbound onto Rio Road. Given the highway-oriented nature of the superette and memorial dealer, staff believes that the proposed change, in conjunction with ARB review and approval of the applicant’s proposal, will yield improvements to the aesthetics and functionality of the underdeveloped bank and corner parcel.

Anticipated impact on public facilities and services


Access to the bank parcel is provided from entrances off of Route 29 and Rio Road. Supplemental access may be gained from Fashion Square Mall in the form of a vehicular entrance and an extension of the rezoning plan’s pedestrian network to the edge of the subject property.




Water and Sewer

Water and sewer service is adequate to serve the development.

Stormwater Management

Conceptual stormwater management issues are sufficiently resolved with the application plan and provide better stormwater management than exists on the site. In addition, the application plan illustrates better stormwater management than is required by the Ordinance. However, there is no commitment to these concepts.


Anticipated impact on nearby and surrounding properties

The surrounding properties are commercially developed. The introduction of additional retail sales and a restaurant generate minimal traffic impacts. Given the relatively small site and the constraints of the Route 29 and Rio Road interconnection, staff suggested to the applicant that contributions toward transit, particularly the mall bus stop, or contribution general contributions toward transit (studies, shelters, benches) would work to enhance transit service and viability. An enhancement of transit service may lead to a reduction in traffic and single-passenger vehicle trips. Staff cannot identify any additional impacts that this change would generate along this commercial core.


Public need and justification for the change

The redevelopment of the bank parcel and the corner parcel to allow a restaurant and several retail stores is a fitting use for this Land Use Plan designation. The service station / superette and memorial dealer are less compatible with the area than when these uses were initially established on the site.



No proffers were submitted with this rezoning request.



The applicant’s revisions to the plan since the applicant’s initial submission, in conjunction with the ARB’s oversight on the proposal given its location, suggest the proposal will represent a redevelopment of a prominent site that reflects principles of the Neighborhood Model. The applicant’s response to the ARB’s feedback provides an application plan that is workable. However, without a commitment to the plan submitted with the application, there is no guarantee that redevelopment of the site as a result of this rezoning will be in general conformity with the rezoning plan submitted with this application.


Factors favorable to this request


Factors unfavorable to this request





Staff recommends approval if a commitment to the rezoning plan, or key features contained thereon, is made.



A.      Location Map

B.      Application Plan

C.      Renderings and Perspective Illustrations

D.      Illustrative Timeline for Redevelopment

View Proffers

Return to June 7 executive summary