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Lots of Charlottesville

Charlottesville, the bustling little metropolis right in the northern/center of Virginia, the small town with the even smaller town mindset. For being a city serving an 80,000 person metropolis, it's dramatically far behind. There's 4 movie theaters, none of which have more than 6 screens or have stadium seating and none of the movie choices overlap (as in...I won't see Harry Potter 7.2 because it's only showing in the theater that smells most like urine...and there's no other choice to go see it but travel to a different city, or pirate it :D). Of course there's a plan to build a new complex where there would be a great new movie theater...they've been in permitting fights since 2003 and the board is hell bent on not letting them build. In fact, even though a new project group took it over and broke ground to put in the new sewer lines...the city is trying to REVOKE the permits. Why? Read here:

Some of my favorite exerpts from that little gem:

“This would be perfectly fine down at Short Pump,” said board member Bruce Wardell. “But Short Pump’s out in this contemporary, entirely newly constructed environment.”
“I think if we approve a building with this much stucco in it, we’ll never be able to say no to anybody else with anything this size ever again,” said board member Paul Wright. “Either we’re making an enormous change in our design criteria here or we’re not.”
“I think of these changes as minimal,” Wright said. “I’m getting the same sort of blank white building. I’m getting a building that doesn’t respond to local architecture, and you’re tinkering on the edges.”

Oh well that makes sense, a giant useful new clean complex would be totally worthless if it didn't fit in with the local architecture, right? If it didn't respect the design history of the city? Well I thought I'd highlight some of the design that the city is trying to protect. I won't even have to leave my desk...I'll do it from the comfort of google maps :D

Directly across the street from the proposed stucco monstrosity is...a shitty K-Mart. Made of stucco. So to be honest, the stucco actually is IN LINE with the existing architecture of the immediate area.

What says local culture more than a generic Chinese buffet? One that closed and is a gaudy closed decrepid building! What a landscape, definitely one to preserve, definitely one to take into consideration when designing new structures. This has been boarded up and closed for over 2 years now, and there's now a tarp over the roof because it was starting to leak or cave in.

This is the lovely Shoppers World Court. It's a lovely wood-shingle building that has taken sun damage for probably 30 years, makes you worry you'll get attacked if you spend any time there, being phased out. Insider information states that the landlords are trying to rent-price all tenants out so the complex can be razed and redeveloped; Whole Foods has already moved out. With the history of supporting building new things that our lovely city/county have, I'm sure this will develop into a LOVELY empty lot within the upcoming months.

One of the busiest and most upscale complexes within Charlottesville is "Barracks Road Shopping Center." It's a lovely outdoor mall with 2 grocery stores, upscale clothing, restaurants, etc. It's also located on one of the busiest intersections in the area...Emmet and Barracks roads. What do you think is on the corner of some of the most high-traffic places in the city? An empty lot!

In the middle of Charlottesville's downtown is a great outdoor venue called the "Charlottesville Pavillion." It's got great summer concerts and stuff. When you drive behind that, the one building that seems to peek out over the skyline is this lovely wood-rotted structure. If only we could get the new 14-screen IMAX enabled theater to look like this:

Speaking of downtown, there's a lovely little walking shopping center called "The Downtown Mall." It's full of upscale trinket stores which are great to visit if you can get past the homeless people that found random instruments and loudly play "music." The centerpiece of this mall was to be the "Landmark Hotel," a triumph of civilization that you can read all about here. This monument to greatness has been a hollowed out husk of a hotel for years now, and continues to be yet another beautiful blemish on the imaginary greatness of C-Ville architecture.

This picture is of nothing in particular, I think it's a closed Coca-Cola bottling plant. It doesn't really down Main street and you'll find any number of buildings that look just like this. In the 50's I'm sure these were great bustling factories, but now they're mostly empty repurposed storefronts and look more like ruins than cultural preservations.

So's what I think. You have ugly unused shit all over this city. Only you think it looks nice, if you're even being honest. What is more important...building nice things that people want and will use but might be a LITTLE different looking than other buildings in town...or stopping workers, letting land rot, and keeping this city functionally in the dark ages over some god damned stucco? Why do you think people build in Hollymeade, Ruckersville, and Waynesboro instead of creating jobs in Charlottesville? Oh well, it isn't my city, and as long as you're happy pretending this is some sort of sub-rural utopia, then the rest of the civilized people will continue to vacate.

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