A building on Water Street that housed the Clock Shop of Virginia is the latest downtown structure to be on the chopping block.
The Charlottesville Board of Architectural Review approved a demolition permit Tuesday for 201 W. Water St., a one-story structure that was built in 1950, according to city property records.
The building is a contributing structure in the downtown architectural design control district. That means the BAR must give its OK before it can be demolished.
“The application suggests that the structure is not architecturally or historically significant and it’s lacking any unique architectural features,” said Mary Joy Scala, the city’s historic preservation planner.
The building is on a 3,006-square-foot lot and is within the city’s “downtown corridor” district. That allows up to six stories by-right and nine stories with a special-use permit.
Scala said there has been no historic survey of the building, and little is known about why it was originally built and for what purpose.
“The parking canopy reflects the historic warehouse and automotive uses that were common along Water Street,” Scala said. “I would say that the façade and canopy are not special.”
Black Bear Properties LLC purchased the land in July 2016 for $450,000. The firm has ties to developer Hunter Craig, who signed the application for demolition.
“The demolition would affect the historic district the most in that the scale of this corner would change if they redevelop it,” Scala said. “The building has been adaptively reused as a clock shop, which has now closed. It is similar to other former automotive buildings on West Main Street and West Water Street.”
Clark Gathright appeared on behalf of the applicant.
“The demolition approval from the BAR really gets the ball rolling in the site view process,” Gathright said. “We wanted to have the approval to demolish the building before we get started.”
Gathright said they did not want to get too far into designing the next structure without knowing if they could take this building down.
In April, the BAR voted to approve demolition of the Main Street Arena and the building that houses Escafe. Those will make way for the new Charlottesville Technology Center, a multi-use office building being developed by Jaffray Woodriff.
As part of the demolition, some of the utility lines on Second Street Southwest will be placed underground.
The BAR was unanimous in its support for demolition.
“This building holds the corner very poorly, and I can’t see any reason not to get rid of it,” said BAR member Tim Mohr, adding that he would be more concerned if there was a proposal to demolish other single-story structures on the other side of Water Street, such as Mono Loco.
“As I think of the buildings that define Water Street, this isn’t one of them,” said BAR member Carl Schwarz.
Though there is no development plan yet, BAR members already are thinking of the future.
“My main concern would be the massing and scale of what might replace it,” said BAR Chairwoman Melanie Miller. “The good news is that the footprint limits [the size] to some degree.”
A developer is currently building a six-story, mixed-use building at 500 E. Water St. on a quarter-acre parcel.
Developer Keith Woodard is expected to break ground later this year on a nine-story, L-shaped building diagonal from 201 W. Water St.
“I don’t know what [Craig] has in mind, but I think that something that acts as a weight to counterpoint to this very big building that is going to be catty-cornered across from it is going to be important,” Mohr said.