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Would You Support a Mixed-Use Development in Virginia-Highland?

What would you like to see the parking lot on N. Highland Avenue and Briarcliff Place used for?

The parking lot on N. Highland Avenue across the street from and is one of the few undeveloped multi-lot properties in Virginia-Highland.

Developers announced in 2006 a plan to build a mixed-use development on the property, but a decline in the real estate market put the project on hold.

Plans involved a four-story building that included retail and residential space, an outdoor food court and a parking deck with nearly 300 parking spaces.

The project went through several transformations after major pushback from the community including parking concerns and height of the building, among many other issues.

Today, the lot is used to ease parking issues in the retail district of the neighborhood and is the go-to spot for the weekly food truck event on Wednesdays.

What would you like to see the lot used for? Would you like to see Landau move forward with his project? Would you prefer the property remain as is? Share your opinion in the comments.

ceh May 30, 2012 at 12:20 PM
Keep it as is, but add some prettier landscaping. The neighborhood needs parking for the retail to survive, and I love the food trucks.
Meinert May 30, 2012 at 12:53 PM
I think it would a good idea for that end of the street. I do think, however, that 4 stories is one story too high. It would be essential, in my opinion, that the architecture reflect the era and style of the community.
MG May 30, 2012 at 01:42 PM
This development done right can really improve that part of the street. It obviously has to be sensitive to the architectural design, but I think could provide a great attraction to the area with some nice restaurants. It also would be nice to have some new development, particularly housing, in the area. The development as proposed would provide more than enough parking and more than double the spaces available now. I say let's do it and bring more economic development to the area.
John Becker May 30, 2012 at 02:37 PM
Wouldn't mind seeing the corner developed somehow but wouldn't support a project as ambitious as what was previously proposed. Too much, too tall, too crowded. It's great having the area available for overflow parking and awesome to have it for the food trucks but seems like the land is just too valuable to let it sit as is forever.
Jim May 30, 2012 at 04:43 PM
Four stories there is way too high and will stick out like a sore thumb. Will the parking be underground? Most developers want more room for rent and won't take into account the aesthetics and needs of the neighborhood. I have no problem with it remaining a parking lot, but that's too prime a location...
brian May 30, 2012 at 04:59 PM
If people in our community truly consider themselves supporters of more public transport, more walkable communities, and more sustainable living, then we must be supportive of more density. No ifs, ands or buts. However, the sad part is that typically we say we support these ideals, but pull the NIMBY card when the opportunity arises. There is a major difference in working with a developer to integrate design versus just fighting development because it would be "too big", "too tall", "too many cars", etc.
brian May 30, 2012 at 05:03 PM
Oh and making developers put in hundreds of parking spots is so not the answer either. That just encourages more car trips. Will areas around it get more surface parking? Sure, but that's again the price to pay to create density and the situation by which someone says "oh man, I better get on my bike, take the bus, or walk up there, as I know I can't find a parking spot."
Brooks May 30, 2012 at 05:20 PM
The original proposal was way too large in every respect. A 3 storey multi use building, with respect to the existing flavor of the Highlands district, and parking for tenants and customers could be a benefit to the entire neighborhood. Small studio condos with one dedicated car space, some larger on the top floor with 2 spaces, and retail on the ground level at a cost that independent shops could afford (not just the national chains) would be a plus to everyone.
Meinert May 30, 2012 at 05:23 PM
With ideals taken into account (public transit, walkable communities etc.) as well as aesthetics (too tall, too dense), a balance needs to be struck for the development to be successful--one which takes into account that most people who visit our district and spend money in our restaurants travel by car.
Kay Stephenson May 30, 2012 at 06:10 PM
I support development of that space - especially if it can incorporate retail, residential, . and parking spaces to serve the existing retail and bar/restaurant business in the neighborhood. All vibrant neighborhoods need to change and grow to avoid stagnancy and decline. The existing parking lot has been an eyesore for too many years. As for the scope of the project, this is exactly what our neighborhood commercial zoning was meant to address. I agreed with those zoning changes then and support them now. As long as the design fits within those rules, I say go ahead.
Chris Tilley May 30, 2012 at 07:59 PM
It should fit the tone of VH and not be the monstrosity that was planned... Ponce City Market will fill the local need for such a place... It should be something, but more a place that feels welcoming to all, but more of a "local" spot.
JD Christy May 30, 2012 at 10:04 PM
Retail/residential could work if, as stated by others it fits the scale of the neighborhood commercial (NC) zoning code. That inc.'s 3 story height limit & set backs. The original plan did not fit & the truck entrance off the residential street, Briarcliff Place was a bad idea.
David E. May 31, 2012 at 03:32 AM
Article a trial balloon before news that's been under wraps is announced? I've heard rumors around the neighborhood that something is in the works. When I asked about this at the civic association meeting last month, no one would talk about it, other than to say the board would only talk about it in private exec session, and that something might be in the news soon. Hmmmmm....
Liam May 31, 2012 at 11:18 AM
I am of the opinion that if we are to realize our potential as a city and as a neighborhood then we need to be OPEN to change and not so conservative. We need to recognize that smart density is the key to a long lasting and healthy urban area. The type of architecture is immaterial as this is a decision to be made by the owner as a matter of personal taste. Personally, as someone who lives 500 yards form the project, I would be ok with what was proposed previously.
Hcoker May 31, 2012 at 11:50 AM
I'd like to see any development conform to the zoning guidelines that have been developed by the business community and the civic association. If it conforms to those requirements developed over the last few years then it should be a nice addition to the neighborhood and it will likely be better received. It should not try to move forward despite the organizations that are in place to advocate for our neighborhood. The developers should practice being a part of the neighborhood by working with these organizations to develop a workable solution up front to ensure a positive impact on the neighborhood.
David E. May 31, 2012 at 01:17 PM
I'm wondering this: if there appear to be Association members who support development in this location - some even noting that they would be okay with what was proposed previously - then why has the civic association board fought this development tooth and nail? Perhaps that is what a majority of association members want (by the way, all residents of Virginia-Highland over 18 years of age are members in the Association.). But by what method does the Association board know what a majority of Association members want in this regard? My observation over the past couple of years: I don't think the board has any idea. And my opinion is that their own personal values guide them in decision making more so than input from the Association members. It is also troubling to me that the board that we elected to represent us in the Association, has recently refused to discuss the issue with the Mix, other than in private closed sessions that we likely will never be privy to what the discussion was.
Michael Moore May 31, 2012 at 01:35 PM
I agree. Any development there would greatly increase traffic on Briarcliff Place, which already has more than its share due to its Briarcliff access. Parking is at a premium, and the present setup allows cars to enter/leave on N. Highland rather than Briarcliff place as was proposed. The lot is not big enough for the type of development that was proposed (and thankfully not built). That side of N. Highland is just not as dense, and hasn't been for about 100 years. Unless we want to encourage pressure to redevelop that whole side of the street, I say leave it alone. I agree that it could certainly look nicer as a parking lot than it does currently.
pmkatl May 31, 2012 at 02:00 PM
This is a no-brainer. Of course we should embrace the development of this eyesore. That stretch of N. Highland desperately needs a fresh coat of paint, so to speak. this development, if done properly with the cooperation of both developer and neighborhood, would be transformative. Between this development, the new park, and maybe a somewhat splashy new tenant in the Star-Ben and Jerry's space the area would immediately have the fresher feel that is warranted by this neighborhood.
Kimberly Perdue May 31, 2012 at 04:49 PM
I 100% agree with the no-brainer comment. And I understand the need to go 4 stories to accommodate parking and live space. And I think it is much smarter to make the access in and out be on the side street to ease any additional stop and go on North Highland. That end of the street really needs additional activity to support the retail stores and restaurants. If this get's voted down, the last think we need is a black top parking lot. If it is going to stay a parking lot, maybe a some sort of green-friendly cement surface with benches and planters incorporated into the design. Lord knows we need more parking, let's just make it an attractive addition.
JD Christy May 31, 2012 at 07:30 PM
I agree if developed, it needs to be an attractive addition. The issue of 3 or 4 stories was discussed in many long public meeting as Neighborhood Commercial (NC) Zoning Code was developed and agreed to by the Commercial property owners, businesses, the Neighborhood & the City. There was a good deal of give & take. The height limits included high ceilings for first floor retail. A good development could certainly benefit the area, & can be done without overpowering the area. Zoning codes can help with development while maintaining a balance that so many have worked over the years to keep. Virginia Highland has been a model, looked to, copied, and written about. It didn't just automatically happen, it takes dedication & involvement & a little love.
Victoria Shanahan June 02, 2012 at 03:04 PM
Only if sensitive to the neighborhood and it's needs, meaning not 4 stories, be mixed use, have rents that allow LOCAL businesses to locate there, and be designed for the WALKABLE/biking neighborhood that we are. We don't need more bars/restaurants, but I'm so afraid that's what we will get. And, it must be sensitive to the nearby home owners.
T June 08, 2012 at 05:54 PM
If done properly (in the taste and nature of the neighborhood even if it is more dense), development on that lot could be an asset. However, let's not encourage any development simply because the owners who would profit from the development refuse to keep their property up to a reasonable standard. Go look a the parking lot on N.Highland at Amsterdam. A responsbile property owner spent some money and is keeping it maintained. No one is complaining it's an eyesore and hoping an overly dense development woud replace it. The owner of the lot at N.Highland/Briarcliff Place needs to clean up their mess today and not pull down our neighborhood. We've been way to accepting of their weeds, broken cement, broken bottles, plastic construction runoff barriers and zero landscape for too long. Let's not reward them for it.

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