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Chase Bank to replace former Qdoba location on the Corner

If the BAR gives consent, a new bank will open on the Corner after Qdoba closed in July 2018

Fast-casual chain Qdoba Mexican Eats closed in July 2018 after nearly 15 years of business on the Corner.
Fast-casual chain Qdoba Mexican Eats closed in July 2018 after nearly 15 years of business on the Corner.

If the Board of Architectural Review gives signage consent at their meeting next Wednesday, a Chase Bank will officially replace the former Qdoba location on University Ave. that closed in July 2018. The Board’s final step is to approve a Certificate of Appropriateness Application which is slated to occur at its regular meeting.

The location of the bank will be in the Chancellor Building, located at 1415 University Avenue in the Corner Shopping Center — which had formerly housed Qdoba Mexican Eats and served University students and Charlottesville residents before its closure last year. Because this area — along with Rugby Road and Martha Jefferson Historic Conservation Districts — is a designated historic district in Charlottesville, any renovations to the facade of the building are subject to review by the BAR. 

“Our purview from where I sit is singularly about what designs are being proposed,” said Jeffrey Werner, the City’s Preservation and Design Planner. “And in that regard, we were pleased with that we got [Chase’s architecture firm] to not necessarily restore [the building] but to bring back the facade.”

At the BAR meeting last November, a storefront rehabilitation and repair movement was approved for the location as the proposed motion satisfied the Board’s criteria and was compatible with this property and others in the area. However, this approval was contingent upon the building’s leaded glass window not being removed. 

At the same meeting, the applicant also requested a deferral for a signage motion which was granted.

“There were just some questions about height and how does that fit into the corner element,” Werner said. “[The deferral] allowed them to get going on their construction because signage is treated as a separate permit with the City but what the BAR approved in November allowed them [to] get going with their building permit and [to] get going with the actual construction stuff.” 

Signage for the new Chase location will be coordinated by Philadelphia Sign Company which specializes in branding for exterior signs for businesses. 

Qdoba replaced Espresso Royale Caffe in 2003 and was beloved by many students for its free guacamole and queso, something that was hard to find amongst the other restaurants on the Corner. Qdoba has a separate Charlottesville location in the Shops at Stonefield, approximately two miles from Grounds.

Some students have taken issue with the plan to replace the fast-food chain with a bank. Before the Chase Bank plan was announced, an op-ed argued in favor of a new grocery store to replace the Qdoba. 

The closest all-service grocery stores, Kroger and Harris Teeter, are both located in Barracks Road Shopping Center. It was contended that the current grocery options on the Corner function closer to convenience stores and that there is a need for fresh food in the area.

Fourth-year College student Paige Yanity expressed concerns regarding a need for fresh produce and a wider selection of food on the Corner. When asked about the property manager’s decision to include a bank rather than a grocery store, Yanity said she did not have an issue with banks in particular, but a grocery store would better fit the needs of students.

“I don’t think the city is obliged to do anything,” said Yanity. “I do think that they should consider more student’s needs. They’re not obliged, but I think they should consider more needs than money.”


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