Planning begins for Charlottesville site

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Martha Jefferson Hospital has begun construction on a new hospital building that will open in 2012 on an 88-acre site in the Peter Jefferson Place business park in Albemarle County. Now plans are beginning to take shape for the 14-acre downtown site that the hospital will leave behind.

North Carolina developer Crosland Group is helping hospital officials decide what to do with the site, which is just a couple of blocks from the city’s Downtown Mall. The plan likely to emerge will be a mixed-use project — with housing, retail and office space — that emphasizes the pedestrian-friendly design, says Steve Maudlin, Crosland’s senior vice president.
Crosland is eager to avoid annoying neighborhood residents, Maudlin says.  The Martha Jefferson property includes some houses adjacent to the hospital, and Maudlin says the plan is to return them to residential use.

Even though the hospital buildings are a familiar sight to passers-by, the hospital itself is relatively isolated from the homes and businesses that surround it. Maudlin thinks that will change. “What you have now is essentially a big city block that there is no connection to in terms of streets and sidewalks,” he says. “We want to reconnect the hospital site back to the neighborhood.”
As a nonprofit, the hospital doesn’t pay real-estate taxes on its property, but the new development will. Maudlin says “it’s very likely” that the hospital will be a partner in whatever development occurs on the site.

More details on the development should emerge by summer. Plans already call for preserving the hospital’s Patterson Wing, built in 1929. Maudlin thinks the planning process will go well because the parties involved — the city, the hospital and Crosland — generally agree on basic concepts. “The opportunity to work on [a project] in a special place like Charlottesville doesn’t come around very often.”

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