Property transfers in Charlottesville for September 2021; Residential prices are still up

This past month I have received at least two dozen “price decease” alerts from realtor.com. How is that translating into the market? Read ahead and find out for yourself in this anecdotal look at property transactions in Charlottesville during September. Properties appear to be sold above assessment in most all cases. 

Of particular interest to me are two property transfers in areas that are to be designated as “sensitive” to displacement in the Future Land Use Map and the Comprehensive Plan. The Planning Commission recommended adoption of the draft this past week and details still need to be worked out about the mechanism by which bonus units will be allowed in those areas. 

One on Charlton Avenue in the Rose Hill neighborhood was over 53 percent of the 2021 assessment. Another on Anderson Street in 10th and Page went nearly 190 percent over assessment, though that reflects major renovations made by the previous owners. What, if anything, might have been altered with different land use rules? 

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Bonumose to set up Hershey research plant at former State Farm HQ

An Albemarle County start-up that seeks to create an artificial sweetener for the mass market will set up shop at the former regional headquarters of the State Farm insurance company.

Governor Ralph Northam was on hand to announce that the firm Bonumose will partner with the Hershey Company to research and develop reduced or zero sugar chocolate.

“This is a $28 million investment that Bonumose is putting forth in the Commonwealth of Virginia,” Northam said. 

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Charlottesville to hold forum on climate vulnerability on October 25

Charlottesville’s efforts to create a Climate Adaptation Plan move forward this month with a community forum to get input on potential threats from more extreme weather patterns. The October 25 event will be the first steps for the city to complete a Climate Vulnerability Assessment. 

“As part of the city’s climate action effort, it has committed to developing a plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and to prepare and respond to our changing climate,” said Susan Elliott, the city’s climate protection program manager.

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Charlottesville EDA reauthorizes performance agreement for Friendship Court

The Charlottesville Economic Development Authority has reauthorized a performance agreement with the Piedmont Housing Alliance for a loan for the redevelopment of Friendship Court. Piedmont Housing Alliance would pay the money back through the incremental tax revenue the city would get from a more intense residential development. Here’s Economic Development Director Chris Engel. (staff report)

“Typically, our performance agreements are done to encourage business development, job creation, capital investment that creates office space or an industrial building,” Engel said. “In this case, the public good if you will is the rehabilitation and addition of not public housing, but affordable housing that would be owned and managed on a long term basis by the Piedmont Housing Alliance.” 

The city is currently considering using this tool to finance improvements to Stribling Avenue. This is also the same mechanism that was proposed by the owner of the skeleton Landmark hotel. 

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Charlottesville Comprehensive Plan hearing tonight

The seven-member Charlottesville Planning Commission and the five-member Charlottesville City Council will hold a public hearing tonight on the Comprehensive Plan, the second task performed by Rhodeside & Harwell as part of the Cville Plans Together initiative. That includes a Future Land Use Map which increases residential density across most of the city. 

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General Atomics to rent in 3-Twenty-3

Another tenant has been announced for the new 3-Twenty-3 building in downtown Charlottesville. General Atomics Commonwealth Computer Research will lease just under 50,000 square feet in the building.

“With projects ranging from optimizing the world’s largest container port to predicting future asymmetric warfare events, CCRi has no shortage of experience in diverse client expectations,” reads a description of the company on their website

The 3-Twenty-3 building is being developed by Insite Properties and marketed by Cushman & Wakefield | Thalhimer. A press release describes the building as a five-story office building on top of a four-story, 200 space parking garage. 

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First official roadside memorial unveiled in Charlottesville

There are several makeshift memorials to people who died in crashes on 5th Street Extended in Charlottesville. Yesterday, a city-sanctioned memorial to Quintus Brooks was unveiled with a family ceremony. Brooks died on October 1, 2020 and yesterday would have been his birthday. 

“A new application process is being launched for roadside memorials at the site of deaths resulting from automobile, bicycle or pedestrian accidents that occur on public streets within the City of Charlottesville,” said city Communications Director Brian Wheeler in an email announcing the event.

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Transit updates from the Regional Transit Partnership’s September meeting

We are now six days into Try Transit Month, an effort to encourage people to consider using fixed-route or on-demand service to get around the community. It has now been 13 days since the Jefferson Area Regional Transit Partnership met on September 23 Since October 2017, the advisory body run by the Thomas Jefferson Planning District has served as a clearinghouse for different providers. 

Karen Davis is the interim director of Jaunt and she stated one of the biggest challenges facing all bus fleets.

“The driver shortage continues,” Davis said. “Jaunt is going to move to match [University Transit Service] and [Charlottesville Area Transit’s] recruiting and retaining bonus programs to try to entice more people into the door.

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Developer seeks rezoning for 250 new units on Rio Road

Plans have been submitted in Albemarle County for a 250-unit apartment complex on Rio Road. According to the application for a rezoning prepared by Collins Engineering, the Heritage on Rio would consist of seven buildings and a clubhouse on 8.23 acres of land. The properties are all zoned R-6 and the application is for a rezoning to Planned Residential Development (PRD). There are currently four single family homes that would be removed to make way for the development. 

“At just over half a mile from the Route 29/ Rio Road intersection, the proposed community would be within walking distance to many conveniences, including the numerous retail shops and offices in the Berkmar Crossing commercial area, several grocery stores, the Northside Library, and the large number of destinations surrounding the Rio/ 29 Intersection, including CVS Drugstore, Fashion Square Mall, Rio Hill Shopping Center, and Albemarle Square Shopping Center,” reads the application. 

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Stribling improvements key to Fry’s Spring rezoning

Will the city be able to build the infrastructure residents to allow for a more dense development on Stribling Avenue? At their meeting on September 14, 2021, the Charlottesville Planning Commission pondered this question and a public-private partnership could be worked out to cover the costs that a cash-strapped city cannot afford.

Southern Development seeks a rezoning to Planned Unit Development to build up to 170 units on about 12 acres of wooded land. That came after a directive at an earlier work session for the firm to increase the units in the development.

“The Planning Commission told us very clearly that you wanted to see something less dense and more suburban,” said Charlie Armstrong, vice president at Southern Development.      

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