Three new businesses at Rivanna Plaza— one of several commercial properties along the U.S. 29 corridor that are undergoing development, expansion or renovation — are slated to open their doors by January.
When fully completed next summer, the new 32,100-square-foot center will have space for up to 10 businesses housed in three buildings, according to Mark Green, the managing partner behind the firm that’s developing Rivanna Plaza.
Kiddie Academy, an 11,000-square-foot day care center, will be among the first tenants to open. The day care will occupy one of three buildings on the 3.2-acre site, which is in front of the Kegler’s bowling alley.
Green also confirmed that Market Street Wine will also relocate from its Shoppers World location to a spot at Rivanna Plaza.
Construction on the third building, which will be 14,800 square feet, is slated to begin soon, although no tenants have been confirmed for that space.
Although the other shopping centers sprouting up across the Charlottesville region — the Shops at Stonefield, Hollymead and the yet to be built Fifth Street Station — might have 10 times as much retail space, Green said he’s confident Rivanna Plaza is a good fit that’ll draw and keep tenants and customers. By comparison, Fifth Street Station, which will be located between Fifth and Avon streets, is slated to have about 470,000 square feet of retail space.
“My goal is really to provide a place where merchants can do a good business, and that also means having a place that’s convenient to customers,” Green said.
In addition, Green said that Rivanna Plaza is designed as more of a convenience center — a place that people will stop by to and from work or for quick visits, while the other properties are destination centers — places where people plan to spend a couple of hours, an afternoon or an evening visiting several establishments.
Tom Ministri, who will own and operate the day care franchise along with his wife, Victoria, agreed.
“I think we probably have the best location in the Charlottesville area — visibility, easy access — you really don’t have to go out of your way to find it … We’re going to be doing tours after Thanksgiving through December and we expect to be open with children Jan. 2.”
Ministri said the new building will feature all of the latest technology, including remote online monitoring so parents can watch their kids and interactive whiteboards in the classrooms.
“Everything is going to be technology driven as much as possible, because that’s what kids are growing up with.”
The Albemarle County location will be the Maryland-based firm’s first in the state outside Northern Virginia. The day care will have a capacity of 186 children and a 6,000-square-foot playground.
In the works since 2007,Rivanna Plaza was set back by the recession and other factors, such as financial lending conditions.
“A lot of these things got planned in a different time in a different world — the pre-recession,” Green said, adding that an improving economy is breathing new life into many dormant projects.
Andy Rod will operate the Dunkin Donuts and is also very optimistic the new location will be a big hit.
“[Opening] by Thanksgiving is not going to happen … Before Christmas, we’ve got a shot,” he said.
Overall, the project will cost about $9 million. Cathcart Construction is the contractor.
“We may have gone through a recession, but before the recession, there were 50,000 cars a day. After the recession, there still are, so that part of the equation hasn’t changed,” said Green, who moved to Charlottesville from Los Angeles in 2004.
Thankfully, when it comes to the local economy, “Charlottesvilleis a wonderful place because it’s always a couple of points ahead of the state and several points ahead of the nation,” Green said.