It has been almost a year of planning, getting the city’s approval and rebuilding, but the Commonwealth Restaurant and Skybar is open for business in Charlottesville Friday night. It is just one example of downtown development, which some see as a sign of builder confidence.
The Commonwealth’s opening could be a sign that now is the time to build and develop in Charlottesville. And the owners there aren’t the only ones to catch on, which could be good news for business.
People packed the commonwealth Friday night, hungry and thirsty for something different on the downtown mall – and they got it. There are some final touches to put on the place, but the owners say the restaurant and rooftop bar are ready for customers.
Commonwealth Partner Alex George said, “I don’t know if there’s a really right time to open a restaurant, but I had an opportunity to build something that had been a vision for quite a while, and here we are. It was just the right place at the right time.”
It also seems to be the right time for a new developer to move in on the Landmark Hotel on the other end of the mall.
“It’s all good business. It’s all good competition,” said Stuart Rifkin, a Charlottesville commercial realtor/developer.
Rifkin has his hand in a number of restaurants and commercial property in downtown Charlottesville. He says recovery has been steady and people have found a way to open new places and create new jobs.
“We all feel the pinch, but I think Charlottesville is never, we’ve never hit the dip or some of the problems that other parts of the country that have been reliant on heavy industry,” stated Rifkin.
The city has seen an increase in people getting building permits and moving forward with their projects. Charlottesville Neighborhood Development Services Director Jim Tolbert said, “I think it’s a sign that, you know, maybe there’s some money, that the economy is moving a little bit.”
The partners at Commonwealth Restaurant and Skybar say the process of getting approved by the city was challenging at times. Rifkin owns The Nook across the mall from Commonwealth, and says the more the merrier when it comes to businesses on the downtown mall, even if it could mean taking a couple dollars from his pocket.