Adapted by Keswick Life
The owners of the resort commonly known as Keswick Hall and Golf Club, located at 701 Club Drive, in Albemarle County, Virginia (the “Property), requested several amendments to SP-2008-00042, which would allow for improvements to the Property, as more particularly described below.
The Property is further identified on Albemarle County Tax Maps as Parcels 08000-00-00-008Z0, 08000-00-00-00900 and 08000-00-00-060A0 with a combined acreage of approximately 174 acres. The Property is part of the Rural Areas zoning district (“RA”). Within the RA zoning
district, Clubs and Lodges; Swim Golf and Tennis Clubs; and Restaurants, Taverns and Inns are allowed pursuant to a Special Use Permit.
Their application to the Board of Supervisors is an amendment to the uses approved for the Property, pursuant to SP 2000-33 and SP 2008-42, with the primary purpose of this request being a relocation and reduction in proposed uses and impacts.
Use of the Property as an Inn originated from the approval of a Special Use Permit in 1978, identified as SP-1978-76, which allowed an Inn, as well as several accessory uses, such as swimming pools and tennis courts, both of which may be open to the public without regard to whether users are patrons of the dining facilities or guests at the Inn itself.
Since that time, the County has processed numerous applications related to the Inn, the residential subdivision surrounding the Inn, the Golf Club and Golf Course, and the private water and sewer system infrastructure associated with these various improvements. Albemarle County staff has provided a summary of the timeline of applicable applications, attached hereto as
The existing use of the Property is a 48-room Inn and Golf Course with supporting amenities, including:
- Club House and Golf Course
- Dining Options
- Tennis Courts
- Fitness Facility
The two most recent legislative approvals for Keswick Hall and Golf Club include Special Use Permits SP 2000-33 and SP 2008-42, both of which permit the expansion of the 48-room Inn and Golf Club use, 75 additional guest rooms and related amenities, as well as restaurants and spas that are open to the public.
Immediately prior to the submittal of SP 2000-33, representatives of Keswick submitted ZTA 1999-07, which was approved by the Board of Supervisors. ZTA 1999-07 added Section 10.2.2.27(b) to the Zoning Ordinance, which permits Restaurants and Inns in the RA district by Special Use Permit under certain circumstances:
Restaurants and inns that are:
(b) Nonconforming uses, pro-vided the restaurant or inn is served by existing water and sewerage systems having ad-equate capacity for both the ex-isting and proposed uses and facilities without expansion of either system.
This provision was written specifically so that it would only apply to the Keswick Hall and Golf Club Property, because the Property did not qualify under subsection (a) of Section 10.2.2.27 as it was written at the time. It is through this provision (Section 10.2.2.27(b)), as well as the
allowance of Swim, Golf and Tennis Clubs via Special Use Permit in the Rural Areas, that both SP 2000-33 and SP 2008-42 were approved. No other property in the Rural Areas operates a Restaurant or Inn pursuant to Section 10.2.2.27(b), thus creating a unique scenario for the Keswick Hall and Golf Club Property.
SP 2000-33 includes Conditions of Approval as well as a Conceptual Plan, dated 12-18-2000, prepared by Roudabush, Gale & Associates (the “2000 Conceptual Plan”). The 2000 Conceptual Plan is attached as Exhibit C. Although phasing is mentioned in the staff report, no phasing is 3 shown on the 2000 Conceptual Plan or specifically delineated within the approved conditions.
The 2000 Conceptual Plan shows an addition to the Inn, freestanding Cottages, a Banquet Hall, a Pool and Pool House, a Spa and several Administrative and Maintenance Buildings. The SP 2000-33 submittal package included a Traffic Study as well as information regarding the establishment and details of the Keswick Utility Company. This Special Use Permit allowed for the construction of 75 additional guest rooms in addition to the existing 48 rooms in the Inn, for a total of 123 permitted rooms.
SP 2008-42 amended SP 2000-33 with updated conditions and an additional Conceptual Plan prepared by Train and Partners (the “2008 Conceptual Plan”) that is referenced within the conditions of approval. The 2008 Conceptual Plan is attached hereto as Exhibit D, and the approved conditions for SP 2008-42 are attached hereto as Exhibit E. The 2008 conditions of approval mimic those of SP 2000-33, although they also reference the 2008 Conceptual Plan, which generally shows the proposed Phase 1 improvements to the Property. The 2008 Conceptual Plan and conditions do not list any uses or breakdown of phasing, only buildings are shown.
In SP 2008-42, which allowed for modifications to uses allowed within Phase 1, VDOT determined that by reducing the hotel room count of Phase 1 from 28 to 23, the traffic impact of the 13-room spa was mitigated, and the left turn lane on Route 22 was not needed for these Phase 1 improvements.
The existing condition of approval regarding the approved restaurant and spa facilities states as follows:
Except for any restaurant and spa on the property open to the general public, Keswick Hall and its associated facilities shall be used only by the guests of the inn and their invitees, and members of the Keswick Country Club and their invitees.
It is important to note that neither the SP 2008-42 conditions of approval, nor the 2008 Conceptual Plan limits the size, number or location of any restaurant or spa on the Property.
OVERVIEW OF PROPOSAL
For a variety of reasons, including the economic recession that began in 2008, the previously designed and approved expansions of the Inn were not constructed. The Conceptual Plans approved with previous submissions were also overly specific, not allowing for the approved uses to shift in location within the site.
The Applicant has engaged the architectural firm Hart Howerton and the engineering firm of Timmons Group to create a plan for the addition of a new wing of guest rooms, an expansion of the existing fitness facility to include a relocated restaurant, and a comprehensive renovation of the existing rooms and Inn.
The proposed new wing and expansions have been designed to be sensitive to the scale and siting of the existing building. The wing is sited in the same location as the expansion approved with SP 2000-33 and as shown on the 2000 Conceptual Plan. However, because the proposed improvements are not in the exact same location or format as the SP 2008-42 approvals (including the 2008 Conceptual Plan), a new Special Use Permit amendment is required. We request approval of 38 additional guest rooms in Phase 1 for a total room count of 86 in Phase 1.
As described earlier, the previously approved Special Use Permits for the expansion of the Inn allowed for a maximum of 123 rooms (48 existing plus 75 new rooms). Of these 123 permitted rooms, the 2008 SUP permitted Phase 1 to have 23 rooms, and for Phase 2 to have 52 rooms.
This Application proposes that the maximum number of additional rooms permitted in Phase 1 be increased to 38 rooms, which would bring the total key count to 86 rooms. This request is a decrease of 37 rooms from SP 2008-42. This application includes the expansion of the Energy Plant building to meet capacity requirements for the new Guest Wing. This facility will increase in size by approximately 50% to incorporate the necessary additional mechanical equipment.
It is anticipated that the footprint will expand on the west side, toward the driving range, in similar scale and appearance to the existing structure. The new Maintenance and Laundry Building sited near the Tennis Courts will relocate those same functions which are currently carried out in the existing Inn, and a separate maintenance structure, and are being displaced by the renovations and the new Guest Wing. Maintenance includes a workshop for repairs to the Inn, and the Laundry will handle guest linens currently processed in the basement of Keswick Hall. The facility will be an unobtrusive one-story building set in the landscape. The new restaurant, located in an expansion of the Club House, will match the existing capacity at Fossett’s Restaurant, with a maximum of 165 seats.
Although Keswick Hall is not listed as an individual resource on the State Historic Register, the Property is listed as a contributing resource to the Southwest Mountains Rural Historic District at the time the district was created in 1991. In SP 2000-33, staff discussed whether the renovations to the Property had impacted its contributing status. The Property was listed as contributing because of the Mediterranean style of the architecture and the fact that a portion of the building known as “Villa Crawford” was designed by Eugene Bradbury. No interior elements were considered.
While Villa Crawford is part of the Southwest Mountains Rural Historic District, the Villa is not protected or specifically historic as it exists today. Of the 58,000 square feet in Keswick Hall, only 11,000 square feet (19%) are in the “original” Villa Crawford building, which is the wing adjacent to the horizon pool. During either the original addition, circa 1993, or prior to that, most of the original finishes had been replaced, and at least some the interior was modified to accommodate that addition. Additionally, the location of the new wing is proposed for the opposite side and newer portion of the structure, and is designed to be subordinate to the existing Inn as it steps down the hill.
The proposed renovation and expansion seeks in every possible way to complement Keswick Hall, to honor the traditions of Virginia hospitality, and to celebrate the unique heritage of this hotel. The architecture and character of the renovation is meant to highlight that history, while recognizing that the story of Keswick is defined by many incremental improvements and additions over time, adapting the Property to each generation of guests and members. This Application proposes to write the next chapter in that long legacy.
The proposed renovation and addition will involve subtle modifications to the building envelope, exactingly executed in the spirit of Eugene Bradbury’s Mediterranean-influenced style, to allow for more a comfortable guest experiences. This will help to ensure the financial success of the hotel, which is critical to preserving and maintaining Keswick for future generations. The Applicants are committed to being respectful, long-term stewards of the Property, and will endeavor to ensure the integrity of this significant Albemarle County property. The Applicant proposes numerous improvements to the Property, as described below and as shown on Exhibit A, attached.
Allowed pursuant to SP 2008-42:
- Comprehensive Renovation of the existing Inn
- Installation of a Pool Pavilion
- Expansion of Energy Plant
Requested Amendments to SP 2008-42:
- Construction of a new wing with a net increase of 38 guest rooms, for a total of 86 rooms
- Freestanding Spa with 8 Treatment Rooms (this is a reduction from the 13 treatment rooms previously approved per SP 2008-42). This is a net increase of 4 Treatment Rooms, as 4 exist in the current Fitness Facility.
- Clubhouse Expansion
- Restaurant (Replacement of Fossett’s): 165 total seats, including bar and outdoor seating – approximately 2,800 SF of dining area
- Relocation of existing Fitness and service spaces to lower level of Clubhouse, under the relocated Restaurant
- Realignment of entry road, parking and drop-off areas, site landscape improvements, pool, and necessary infrastructure repairs and upgrades
- Laundry and Maintenance Facility
CONSISTENCY WITH COMPREHENSIVE PLAN
The Property is designated Rural Areas in the Comprehensive Plan, and is surrounded by the Golf Course, the Keswick Hunt Club and residential lots. Keswick Hall is a unique architectural and cultural asset within Albemarle County’s Rural Areas. The Property is recognized as a longstanding existing facility. The Property supports the regional economy through the employment of over 200 full and part-time employees. The Applicants estimate that the proposed expansion and renovation will result in an additional 148 employees, for a total of approximately 348 employees. Keswick Hall and Golf Course also provides significant contributions to the County tax base with over $600,000 paid in property, lodging and meals taxes annually. The total projected annual tax revenues for the project with the proposed expansion are over $1.5 million.
Keswick Hall also contributes approximately $20,000 in donations to the Thomas Jefferson Foundation annually in the form of a donation for each rented room. This number would double to approximately $40,000 per year with the additional rooms in the new Guest Wing. The
Property attracts tourists from all over the world and raised Albemarle County’s profile within the tourism community. The Keswick Hall venue allows tourists, visitors and club members an immersive experience in the rural landscape of Albemarle County, thus fostering the protection and enjoyment of such areas consistent with the Comprehensive Plan.
IMPACTS ON PUBLIC FACILITIES & PUBLIC INFRASTRUCTURE
An updated Traffic Study by Timmons Group is included with this Application. The updated study is supported by the Traffic Studies and data that were provided in 2000 and 2008. The study concludes that the proposed expansion of the Inn will not result in any significant impact to the area roadways and intersections. Traffic data was collected in November, 2017 to analyze the existing volumes and capacity of nearby intersections. The study also analyzed whether the proposed expansion of the Inn would create any impacts to the roadway network. With the proposed 38 additional hotel rooms and a new spa (net increase of 4 treatment rooms), the updated traffic study confirms that all surrounding intersections would continue to operate at a Level of Service (LOS) C or better. In fact, the intersection of Club Drive and Black Cat Road continues to operate at a LOS A, even with the expansion. The north/south movement of Louisa Road is maintained at a LOS A and the Westbound approach from Hunt Club Drive continues to operate at a LOS C with minimal queuing. The traffic study confirms that no new turn lanes or tapers are warranted for the uses proposed with this Special Use Permit request. Timmons Group also studied the existing Water and Wastewater Treatment Facilities to confirm that the proposed expansion of the Inn would not exceed the capacity of the existing systems.
With 86 total rooms, Keswick Inn remains under the threshold of the existing facility, with a maximum capacity of 76,000 gallons per day. The Timmons Group analysis is attached as Exhibit G.
IMPACTS ON ENVIRONMENTAL FEATURES
Because the proposed location of the new wing of guest rooms and new restaurant are within the immediate vicinity of the existing Inn and Clubhouse, impacts to environmental features are minimized. All new buildings, such as the Spa and Laundry/Maintenance Facilities are kept out of sensitive areas of the site including the stream buffer. The Special Use Permit Plan, showing the general location of proposed uses, includes a delineation of the stream buffer area. An Illustrative Plan and Conceptual Grading has also been included to provide supportive, nonbinding, documentation. By containing the proposed additions within a limited area of the site, the remainder of the land can be left as golf course area and open space to be enjoyed by the community.
Editors Notes: We reached out for a reply from the general manger of Keswick Hall, John Trevenen, but we had nothing by our printing time. If we hear back, we will be sure to update you on this important story.