The News & Record
South Boston News & Record
and Mecklenburg Sun
Home   •   News   •   Sports   •   Classifieds   •   Community   •   Health   •   Entertainment   •   Obituaries   •   Opinions   •   Weather
Advertising | Contact | Register
Advanced Search
News

Remines convicted of child porn charges

Confroy recognized by Halifax Town Council, Bosiger named vice mayor

Police probe bomb threat at South Boston industry


Sports

(Not) playing it day-by-day

With covid numbers rising, decisions to play to be made on a week-by-week basis

Community


Opinion


A&E

News

Clarksville gives go-ahead to warehouse development

South Boston News
SoVaNow.com / January 13, 2021
Plans to redevelop the Planters Warehouse site on Clarksville's Virginia Avenue — once home to the oldest continuing tobacco warehouse — received the go-ahead Tuesday from the town’s planning commission and council.

The Clarksville Planning Commission approved the project without opposition. Town Council approved the project on a 4-1 vote, with members Bruce Woerner, Tammy Mulchi, Carolyn Hite and Chris Clark voting in favor and Danny Pittard voting against.

The mixed-used development, known as The Royster, will have 40 one-bedroom apartments and a commercial space that fronts Virginia Avenue.

Dave McCormack of Waukeshaw Development, who is spearheading the project, acknowledged that his company is taking “an entrepreneurial risk” but said he is proud of the design that he believes will complement Virginia Avenue and become a catalyst for more development.

McCormack appeared before a joint meeting of Town Council and the planning board on Tuesday to answer questions and address rumors about the buildings and parking.

The site will have 56 parking spaces — 40 for the apartments and an additional 16 for the commercial space. Apartments will be market-rate. “We build to a high standard and attract appropriate clientele,” McCormack said. His plans also include filling the commercial space with a new restaurant rather than recruit an existing establishment in town.

McCormack said he was aware that some people in town are afraid that the one-bedroom apartments planned for the site will be designed to cater to low-income occupants. He said apartments at The Royster complex will rent for between $800 and $900 a month, far above the going rate for Section 8 or low-income housing. He noted too that his funding package prohibits him from building low-income housing.

McCormack said he does not like to use the word “luxury” when describing his apartments because he believes that’s an overstatement. He prefers “high-end” and “high-quality finishes” to describe the look inside and outside of the buildings. For instance, the siding will not be vinyl but a composite board and batten material, he explained.

McCormack said his company’s business model focuses on developing sites that spur economic development in small towns. As to why the 40 apartments will be all one-bedroom, McCormack said his company has done hundreds of these projects in other small towns and in his experience “there is a higher demand for one-bedroom apartments among young professionals and retirees.” They are his target audience for the Clarksville project.

McCormack said he envisions renting the apartments to construction workers relocating to the area as Microsoft continues the expansion of its Boydton data center and develops recently-purchased property at three county industrial sites. He also believes that retirees looking to downsize and live in a more urban and walkable setting will flock to the apartments.

Planning Commission member Dick Burnett expressed skepticism and pressed McCormack on the financing arrangements and tax consequences of the project. “Is this real estate taxable?” asked Burnett, drawing “yes” for an answer. McCormack also explained that anyone looking to build low-income housing must first obtain a buy-in from the town. Without that buy-in, low-income housing projects cannot make it through the HUD loan approval process, he said.

Several members of both the planning commission and council expressed concern about the impact a complex of this size would have on parking in the downtown area. Burnett said he drove through downtown Clarksville on Tuesday ahead of the meeting. At the time of his trip, around 4 p.m., no parking sites were available on Virginia Avenue from the stoplight at Fourth Street up past Seventh Street.

McCormack defended the decision to reduce the number of available parking spaces for the apartments to one per unit, saying, “That was likely more than enough.” He agreed that his company as the property owner and the town may need to be diligent about enforcement of parking restrictions, including parking limits on town streets, should it become an issue.

Hite concurred with that assessment of the parking needs and shared comments submitted to the town ahead of Tuesday’s meeting from a person who she said has more than 30 years of experience with rental apartments. Hite said that person, who she did not name, wrote that requiring two parking spaces per one-bedroom unit was “overkill.”

Clarksville EDA Chairman Charlie Simmons, who has worked with McCormack on this project for more than two years, spoke about parking at The Moorings, a condominium complex in Clarksville which is in its third decade. Simmons said when that property was developed, the town allocated 1-1/2 parking spaces per unit. “Except on the occasional holiday, that lot is never full, and all of those units are sold and have been sold for years,” said Simmons.

Hite asked about greenspace at the project and Mulchi wondered what steps McCormack has planned to shore up the retaining wall that abuts adjoining property where Clarksville NAPA and Glasscock Auto are located. McCormack said there were swaths of greenspace between each of the buildings and a large area near the back of the site. In response to Mulchi, McCormack said the existing walls would be buttressed and strengthened.

After hearing that, Mulchi offered her endorsement of the project, saying “everybody has an aversion to change” and “this is new territory that will bring foot traffic to the downtown for the benefit of merchants and retailers.”

Pittard expressed concern that there would not be a market for the apartments once they are completed, and wondered if the project could be built in phases. “It will be done as one phase,” McCormack replied before adding, “We have a lot of construction coming here and we want to capture that market. I believe we want that economic development in Clarksville.”

James Moore, who grew up in Clarksville and now lives just outside town limits, also questioned whether a market exists in Clarksville for 40 one-bedroom apartments. He told McCormack that Clarksville was not like Blackstone or Bedford, two larger towns where McCormack built a series of one-bedroom apartments. While not expressly stating his dislike for the McCormack’s proposed design, Moore also said “we’re not Raleigh. We’re an old tobacco town. If you stick something odd looking in, we have to drive by it everyday and say, ‘man that doesn’t fit.’ ”

Robin Tuck, chair of the Clarksville Planning Commission and former transportation planner with the Southside Planning District Commission in South Hill, said a project of this scope is significant from a regional planning standpoint and would be viewed favorably by political bodies and others awarding grant monies for highway, transportation and other infrastructure improvements.

Nearby business owner Pat Charles, owner of the Delicate Flower Bed and Breakfast, worried that residents with pets would use her lot across the street as a relieving station, something she did not want. McCormack said he agreed with her and most of his apartments will contain restrictions on pet ownership.

Mayor Kevin Allgood weighed in. “This is new and different and if I were a downtown merchant I’d have concerns. No one here [involved with the project] wants to hurt any downtown merchant or harm anyone. There are safeguards in place to allow us to review if parking becomes an issue.”

Simmons offered concluding comments ahead of the vote: “A bunch of people have worked very had on this and every question that could come up has been answered to our satisfaction.”

In other business, members of the Planning Commission and Town Council agreed to rezone an undeveloped lot at the corner of Easley Street and Virginia Avenue from R2 to B1, to match the zoning classification of two adjoining lots.

The property, currently owned by Brent and Brian Toone, is being sold to Michele Cardoni. She wants to erect a duplex on one portion of the property and a mixed-used building with an apartment above and a commercial space, which she plans to use as a thrift store, on the lower portion.

Glen Talbot, owner of the property on Easley Street directly across from the site where Cardoni plans to create parking for the thrift store, shared his concerns about enhanced traffic and the potential for people to use his driveway as a turn-around. He asked the town to consider mandating that the only access point to the property come from the opposite side that abuts Woodland. Otherwise, he said he was not opposed to the project.

As the only issue before the commission and council members had to do with the rezoning, and there were no expressed objections, it was approved.

Town Manager Jeff Jones announced that the police department has started writing tickets for truck owners with “loud pipes” on their trucks coming through town. Police officer Brent Inscore said the law that allows officers to stop truck owners who’ve altered their truck exhaust to make excessive or an unusual level of noise does not take effect until March 1.

Jones also said he is also working with the Diamonds, who operate Clarksville Marina, and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to start construction on a new restroom facility and office at the marina. The current facility is not up to code in terms of accessibility and the number of stalls needed.

Tell-a-Friend | Submit a Comment

16

The Donte App, coming soon to iOS and Android