Sunday, November 22, 2015

Branding Goochland

Branding--creating a particular image by use of words or symbols—is part of our daily life. Food, clothing, places, and pretty much anything you can think of, have brands these days.

Earlier this year, the Goochland Board of Supervisors adopted a county logo. This streamlined symbol mingles barns and office buildings to indicate Goochland’s desire to provide options for all to prosper. Sounds great in theory, but things get tricky in practice.

During design discussions for both the McDonald’s and Taco Bell (now under construction) in Centerville, branding was the gazillion pound elephant in the room. The county wanted to mute the golden arches and purple bell, while the corporate honchos of the national chains protested any infringement on their corporate identities. After a good bit of wrangling, consensus was reached.

Design standards in Centerville, the county’s current development hot spot, were upgraded to encourage high quality development. The language in the standards and the county’s recently adopted 2035 Comprehensive Land Use Plan is purposely broad with the hope that they will create a matrix enabling businesses small, medium, and large, as well as companies local, regional, and national to exist in close proximity. A healthy mix of successful enterprises will encourage a prosperous community.

Sounds great in theory, but the devil is in the details.

The county’s three appointee design review committee (DRC) met on November 16 to address only the architecture of an Audi dealership planned for the north side of Broad Street Road, just west of Rt. 288. The applicant plans to move forward with rezoning for the entire site after obtaining this certificate of approval.

The first piece of good news from this meeting is that LGP, LLC, the entity proposing the dealership, has acquired adjacent parcels with the intent of combing a number of different commercial uses in a master. One of the parcels was the site approved for a dreadful indoor self-storage facility on the eastern flank of Rt. 288.

Three different designs were presented, the first two, sleek, industrial, metal buildings, are approved by Audi corporate and come with generous corporate financial incentives for their use. The third version, using masonry and less glass, would seem more appropriate to Centerville.
The applicant, Larry page, a Goochland resident, said “This is my neighborhood, I want to get it right.”

Even though the overlay district applies to all of Centerville, the stretch of Broad Street Road, east of Rt. 288 is a transition zone between Short Pump and Centerville. The south side is part of West Creek and governed by internal design standards and those of the overlay district. The north side of what is indeed a broad street, currently raw land or home to heavy industry.

An internet tour of Audi dealerships in affluent areas around the country—this business should be right in line with the aspirations of our dear friend Mrs. Upscale Demographic—seems to indicate that car dealerships are routinely banished to the bypass.

Embracing a carefully designed, sited, and landscaped Audi dealership in Goochland’s gateway corridor announces that you’re not in Short Pump any more. Broad Street between Pouncey Tract and the county line efficiently moves traffic through an anonymous commercial area. Signage--some tasteful some dreadful--fights for the attention of motorists zipping along in three lanes of traffic. Centerville’s overlay standards, on the other hand, place businesses closer to the road and banish parking behind buildings for a more personal feel.

Harmonizing--not mandating--architecture, size, and materials will provide opportunities for all sorts of enterprises to thrive in Centerville and give a timeless feel to the area. The willingness of Mr. Page and the DRC to work toward a mutually acceptable solution bodes well for the future.

No comments: