The Cavalier Daily
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U.Va. develops Corner presence with 1515

Businesses, students weigh in on opening of new student space

<p>1515 has a no-alcohol policy, which contrasts with some of the other places students gather&nbsp;on the Corner.</p>

1515 has a no-alcohol policy, which contrasts with some of the other places students gather on the Corner.

The Corner welcomed 1515, a new University-leased building catering to students looking to study or relax on the historic commercial strip along University Avenue, with its grand opening on March 17. 1515 was born from a collaboration among students, faculty and alumni to create a space specialized to serve students. Although the University Police Department operates a public safety substation on the Corner, 1515 marks a major expansion of the University's presence into a space dominated by businesses, bars and coffee shops.

Intentions of 1515

The creators of 1515 sought to provide students with a unique atmosphere not previously available on the Corner. The space includes study rooms, a basement game room, a small coffee shop and a large casual seating area that allows students to alternate studying with relaxing breaks.

“We really focused on making sure that all students felt welcome in the space and that it would be a place that people really wanted to go to,” said Dakota Lipscombe, fifth-year Batten student and member of the 1515 Planning Committee. “Personally I really like that kind of environment to study in, and it allows for students to take breaks in contrast with the traditional library atmosphere.”

In addition to extensive activity options within 1515, the no-alcohol policy of the building provides an alternative late-night vibe for students on the Corner.

“The goal has always been to provide an alternative location for students to socialize where there doesn’t exist the pressure to drink alcohol or be around those who do,” J. Marshall Pattie, assistant vice president and associate dean of students, said in an email to The Cavalier Daily. “A goal of equal importance has been to create a fun space on its own merit. From what I’ve seen this weekend, 1515 effectively reinforces the truth that you don’t need alcohol to have a great time.”

Although 1515 contains a gourmet dessert café and vies for students’ attention on the Corner, the creators do not interpret the space as competing with local businesses.

“We’re not trying to compete with other places on the Corner; we see ourselves as a complement to the Corner atmosphere,” Lipscombe said.

After a well-attended grand opening, the creators of 1515 intend to maintain the space’s relevance by facilitating a dynamic atmosphere that adapts to students’ needs. Several aspects of the building are alterable to student tastes such as the featured art, furniture, arcade room games and food provided.

“Moving forward, I’d say a natural challenge is to keep 1515 fresh and relevant. The student and staff planners designed the building to be agile,” Pattie said. “Over time, we can change aspects of the building to keep it current with student preferences … The beauty of the space is that it can change as students change.”

Students’ first impressions of 1515

During the grand opening of 1515 the space was filled with excited students, faculty, staff and townspeople eager to explore the Corner’s newest edition.

Students lined up to receive free 1515 mugs and sign up for crafting activities held throughout the building, all while admiring the new addition.

“I was awe-struck at first — like, where am I? This doesn’t seem like U.Va.,” first-year Nursing student Esha Rawat said. “It has a very modern feel, it’s a contemporary design and I really like that.”

In contrast to the traditional study spaces found in libraries and academic buildings in which solitude and silence are often the norm, 1515 offers a bright, open atmosphere for students to enjoy while they work.

“I definitely would come to study here,” first-year Engineering student Surbhi Singh said. “I really like how the space is so open with big windows. I hate studying in small, cramped spaces. I usually don’t go to libraries because they’re depressing but this is an upbeat place.”

However, not all students plan to use 1515 as a study space.

“I distract easily, so the regimented environment [of a library] helps me get my work out of the way quickly instead of drawing out assignments for several hours,” third-year College student Sean Hood said. “I just don’t do well with many social variables, noise or other interactions going on while I’m trying to get work done.”

Students spent the grand opening investigating the various rooms and activities available to them in 1515.

“I like that you can do a lot of things within the same space,” first-year College student Saahithi Budharaju said. “You have a place to eat, you can sit with your friends, you can play games — you can do everything in one place.”

Community impact of 1515

1515 is nestled amongst a diverse landscape of local businesses and a few national chains serving Charlottesville and the student body. Some of the space’s neighbors anticipate a symbiotic relationship with 1515 and the increased student presence the space could bring to the Corner.

“We’re a pretty well-known brand, so I don’t think it’s a matter of competition,” Starbucks supervisor Jeremy Snow said. “It’s just people enjoying good coffee and good company. We serve the students so if anyone else is helping in doing that then we appreciate it.”

Starbucks and other shops on the Corner are often crowded with students trying to eat and study, so 1515 may alleviate some of the crowding.

The Corner is also home to a vibrant music scene, and 1515 could be a new addition to the list of venues.

“I think it would be an incredible place to play,” said Hunter Wolfe, lead singer and guitarist of Born Crooked, a brother-sister duo that often plays in Charlottesville. “It’s a great way for college students who are looking to get out and do something with their college community. All around it sounds like a great opportunity and a much needed institution for Charlottesville.”

1515 reminds Wolfe of a venue Born Crooked started out in, which allowed new artists to explore performing without the pressure of preparing an entire show and connected young artists to professional musicians.

“It was always a great experience, and it held up against any other venue that we’ve performed at since then and I think 1515 has the same possibility here,” Wolfe said.

In regard to the no-alcohol policy in 1515, Wolfe said Born Crooked would not be discouraged from playing in the space due to this rule.

“I don’t think it should affect anybody’s decision to go or not,” Wolfe said. “If you have friends that are playing or hanging out it shouldn’t be a factor of you going out and having a good time supporting music or just hanging out with your friends in a safe environment.”

Given the extensive bar scene, some people say 1515 may open the Corner up to more students who may not have felt comfortable on the Corner in the past.

“I know there are plenty of people who feel intimidated or left out just because they choose not to drink, so I think [1515]’s a great spot for those people to feel included and have a place to be,” said Julia Holbrook, a Boylan Heights shift manager and fourth-year College student.

Holbrook said she anticipates 1515 could be beneficial to business when students come out to visit the newly-opened space.

“I think it will have a positive impact because it will attract more students to the Corner, and possibly students that would normally be over in dorms or students that wouldn’t normally be drinking on the Corner but would be nearby in 1515 and want to come just get a burger at Boylan Heights,” she said.

Though it is too early to define the exact relationship 1515 will develop with the community, local businesses and townies alike are eager to see what changes the space will bring. 

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