STAFF PERSON:                                                                              ELAINE ECHOLS, AICP

PLANNING COMMISSION DATE:                                              MARCH 1, 2005

BOARD OF SUPERVISORS DATE:                                              APRIL 6, 2005


sp 2004-0031 gYM AT sEMINOLE pLACE (Formerly Titled Gold’s Gym)

(Revised from September 14, 2004 Staff Report to reflect new name)


Applicant’s Proposal:

This special use permit request would allow an indoor athletic facility in a portion of an existing building, on property zoned LI, Light Industrial.  The subject building is located at 1180 Seminole Trail, across from the Main Post Office and on the south side of Greenbrier Drive.  If approved, Gym at Seminole Place would occupy up to 60,000 square feet of space in the former Comdial building.  This building also houses a variety of small contractors, manufacturing uses, and other commercial establishments.  Although this proposal initially was submitted as “Gold’s Gym”, Gold’s Gym has decided to relocate to a different place.  Nevertheless, the applicant would like to pursue this special use permit for an indoor athletic facility which, at full operation, would reach a membership of approximately 3500 members.  (See Attachments A, B, C and D)


Request for special use permit to allow establishment of an indoor gym in accordance with Section 27.2.2(15) of the Zoning Ordinance which allows for indoor athletic facilities in an LI, Light Industrial district.   The property, described as Tax Map 61W Section 3 Parcel 18 contains 25.4 acres, and is zoned LI, Light Industrial and EC, Entrance Corridor.  The proposal is located on the south side of Greenbrier Drive (Route 866) in the former Comdial building, on the west side of Seminole Trail (Route 29 North), in the Rio Magisterial District.   The Comprehensive Plan designates this property as Industrial Service in Neighborhood One.

Character of the Area:

This portion of Neighborhood One has a wide variety of existing commercial, office and industrial uses along Commonwealth Drive, Greenbrier Driver, and Seminole Trail, with high concentrations of residential use (mainly multi-family) located close by to the west on Greenbrier and Commonwealth and in numerous smaller neighborhoods/developments such as Minor Hill, Turtle Creek, Berkeley, and Four Seasons.  Immediately north of this parcel is a series of commercial and office uses along Greenbrier Drive , and to the south is the proposed Albemarle Place development and Sperry plant.  To the west are townhouses and apartments on Commonwealth Drive, and across Seminole Trail are the main post office and commercial uses.  A Jazzercise facility was recently approved by special permit in a building located across Greenbrier Drive (north side) in a building formerly leased by Comdial, also the previous occupant of this facility.


Staff recommends approval, with conditions.  Gym at Seminole Place complements the nearby residential uses, and also fits well with office and other industrial and commercial uses in the general area.  With the diversification of tenants that has accompanied adaptive re-use of Comdial, the gym may have a potentially larger market right on site.  Its potentially large membership can be accommodated within this former factory of 456,000 square feet, along with numerous other users.  With no impacts other than parking, the indoor athletic use could co-exist virtually on any site in the urban area that had adequate parking and could accommodate the characteristic equipment, space needs, and traffic associated with this type of business.   Staff believes that the proposed use is appropriate for the site, with conditions.  Recommended conditions address the need for retrofitting sidewalks and bike lanes along the access road from Greenbrier Drive, and the need to make minor improvements to the rear entrance.

Zoning and Subdivision History: 

None available.  The (former) Comdial plant was constructed in 1954.

Comprehensive Plan:  

The Comprehensive Plan designates this area for Community Service in Neighborhood One.  Zoning is LI, Light Industrial, Commercial, and EC, Entrance Corridor.  The intent of the LI, Light Industrial, district is: "to permit industries, offices and limited commercial uses which are compatible with and do not detract from surrounding districts.”  Indoor athletic facilities are allowed in a LI district by special permit.  The 1996 Comprehensive Plan, Land Use Plan makes the following recommendations relevant to this request:

-         Industrial Service uses are recommended for the undeveloped area north of Hydraulic Road, between Route 29 and Commonwealth Drive.  As an alternative, this area may be considered for mixed-use development consistent with the Transitional designation to include commercial services serving additional community scale needs rather than regional demands.  Major considerations in the review of any alternative land use proposals will be the impact to the surrounding road system and adjacent residential uses, and consistency with the land use development standards of the Comprehensive Plan.

Staff finds the proposed indoor athletic use to be in general conformity with the Land Use Plan.

The Neighborhood Model

The Neighborhood Model, an adopted part of the Comprehensive Plan, Land Use Plan, sets forth twelve principles for evaluating development proposals within the Development Area.  Although the existing building was constructed fifty years ago in what might be called a more suburban style, the mix of uses that would result from approval of this special permit actually makes the structure more consistent with the Neighborhood Model.  

Neighborhood Model principles most strongly reflected by this proposal are:

Pedestrian Orientation – With the retrofit of sidewalks and bike lanes from Greenbrier to the site, non-vehicular access is enhanced and encouraged.

Mixture of Uses – The proposed site and adjacent parcels are characterized by a mixture of uses with considerable variety, which is a benefit to the neighborhood and the larger area.  The indoor gym blends very well with surrounding and nearby commercial, office, and residential uses, providing a health-oriented activity convenient to many kinds of users.

Neighborhood Centers – This stretch of Greenbrier Drive, from Seminole Trail to Commonwealth Drive, seems to be a center for the neighborhood extending to the west, north and south.  There is the potential for additional future uses in the unoccupied portions of the building and the immediate vicinity to supplement the neighborhood center. 

Redevelopment - The new use in an existing industrial building is a positive example of this Neighborhood Model principle. 

No new buildings or parking are proposed with this special permit application, and no major changes to the site are necessary for this use.  For these reasons, the remaining principles of the Neighborhood Model do not appear to be applicable to this analysis.

Analysis of the Special Use Permit as related to Section of the Zoning Ordinance:

The Board of Supervisors hereby reserves unto itself the right to issue all special use permits permitted hereunder.  Special use permits for uses as provided in this ordinance may be issued upon a finding by the Board of Supervisors that such use will not be of substantial detriment to adjacent property,

Staff has not identified any detriment to adjacent property that would result from inserting the indoor gym use in an existing building.  Staff sees the proposed supporting commercial use as a complement to existing employment, commercial and residential uses in the area.  The location of the facility on a bus line and within walking distance of numerous neighborhoods is positive from the standpoint of accessibility.

that the character of the district will not be changed thereby,

The activity associated with the proposed gym will not negatively change the character of the district.  Although potentially more active than other uses currently in the same building, the indoor athletic use fits in well with the overall area and can be accommodated adequately on the site.  In an industrial area, the associated noise and activity can be accommodated.

and that such use will be in harmony with the purpose and intent of this ordinance,

The proposed indoor gym is a supporting service to the LI district and nearby residential and commercial districts. 

with the uses permitted by right in the district,

This new use should not impact any other uses in the district.  Building Code and Zoning Services has determined that sufficient parking exists on the site, and VDOT and Engineering have identified no deficiencies in access or circulation.  Planning is recommending that the access road from Greenbrier Drive to the site be upgraded to include sidewalks and bike lanes, to encourage and accommodate pedestrians and cyclists who might be expected to access the facility from nearby neighborhoods or via the bus.

with additional regulations provided in Section 5.0 of this ordinance,

The Supplementary Regulations section of the ordinance does not address this use. 

and with the public health, safety and general welfare.

In staff’s opinion, the addition of the indoor athletic use in this portion of Neighborhood One is positive for the existing industrial, commercial and residential uses.  The site is or can be made accessible to pedestrians, vehicles and transit, it is well located for activity throughout the day, and can accommodate the Gym at Seminole Place parking demand without adversely impacting other uses in the building.   In staff’s opinion, traffic impacts from the relatively large membership will be less than the impacts from the truck and employee traffic characteristic of Comdial under full operation because they will take the form of personal vehicles, dispersed throughout the day and evening.


Staff has identified the following factors which are favorable to this request:

1.                  Re-use of an existing building conserves resources;

2.                  Parking is adequate;

3.                  This proposal reflects several principles of the Neighborhood Model, among them Mixture of Uses, Redevelopment, and Neighborhood Centers;

4.                  The indoor athletic facility would offer services to residents, employees, and others meeting a need and demand for health and fitness opportunities in the urban area;

5.                  There are already a variety of tenants in the facility who might be expected to take advantage of the gym use.

Staff has identified no factors that are unfavorable to this request.


RECOMMENDATION:  Staff finds that no adverse impacts to other uses on the site or adjacent properties will occur as a result of the indoor athletic use.  The gym will benefit current and future residents within Neighborhood One and the larger area.  

Staff recommends approval of SP 2003-088, with the following conditions:


1.                  The proposed indoor gym shall be operated in general accord with the special permit justification dated June 21, 2004 (including attachments) and supplemental information contained in a letter from Timothy R. Slagle to Susan E. Thomas, Senior Planner, dated July 26, 2004, documents which are attached to these conditions;

2.                  This Special Permit (SP 2004-031) is granted for up to 60,000 square feet of area within the existing building.  Any enlargement of the area of use beyond the 60,000 square feet will require amendment of this Special Permit;

3.                  Pedestrian and bicycle access shall be provided from Greenbrier Drive to the site along the existing entrance road, as shown on the attached concept plan submitted by the applicant as a part of the Special Permit application (dated September 3, 2004 and initialed by SET).  These pedestrian and bicycle facilities shall meet VDOT standards, except that all sidewalks shall be five feet in width, and shall be approved by VDOT and the County Engineer. These facilities shall be built or bonded prior to issuance of a Certificate of Occupancy for Gym at Seminole Place.  

4.                  The existing driveway access to the site from Commonwealth Drive shall be upgraded as necessary to accommodate two way traffic, to the satisfaction of County Engineering and VDOT. 

5.         The gated access to the site from Commonwealth Drive shall remain open during all hours the gym facility is open for business. 



A – Area Map
B – Site Map
C –Concept Plan (September 3, 2004)
D – Applicant’s Justification
E - Additional information from applicant
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