August 2021 property sales in Charlottesville: New owners for La Quinta Inn, residential prices still up

When I launched this particular feature in January, I did so because I wanted to better understand the real estate economy in Charlottesville. I have owned my home for over 13 years now, a time that roughly coincides with the time I have spent taking a close look at local government as it relates to land use, transportation, growth development, and more. 

One of the cornerstones of my journalistic philosophy is that I know nothing. Every single time I begin writing a story, I look at every single fact and where I got it from. I want to make sure that what I am putting in writing and sending out under my name is accurate. I try to strip out commentary. 

So, this is another in a series of anecdotal accounts of real estate transactions in Charlottesville. It is a result of research I do as I track the Cville Plans Together process. There are big conversations happening about the future of the built environment, and thanks to your support I have been able to stay on top with summaries of these discussions.

My goal in all of this is to provide you with information with context drawn upon all of those years of meetings and interviews and stories. I have dedicated my life to this work and the result is the coverage that you are increasingly coming to depend upon. I cannot thank you enough all for your support but work that much harder with every new subscribe. You get first look at this curated information before it goes out to a wider audience. 

This month appears to continue the trend towards purchase prices well above assessments. There are also a few commercial transactions of note. All of the information comes from the city’s Open Data portal as well as other sources cited. Every transaction is unique to a situation between individuals or organizations, and not a single one of the following blurbs is the complete story. 

August 2, 2021

  • A two bedroom house on Valley View Circle in the Martha Jefferson neighborhood sold for $280,000, which is 2.17 percent below the 2021 assessment. The purchaser is Two Dog LLC, a company registered with an Ivy address. 
  • A two bedroom house in the 200 block of Meade Avenue built in 1947 sold for $245,000 which is 2.82 percent below the 2021 assessment. 
  • A two bedroom house in the 1100 block of Altavista Avenue built in 1931 sold for $220,000. That’s 30.33 percent over the 2021 assessment. 
  • Half of a duplex on Rock Creek Road in Orangedale section of Fifeville sold for $175,000, or 24.91 percent over the 2021 assessment.
House on Valley View Circle
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Places29-Hydraulic group gets updates on area projects

The county’s seven community advisory committees are intended to be monthly forums to help Albemarle staff and elected officials implement the seven areas designated for growth. They’re also places where one can learn information about developments that are underway. County planner Michaela Accardi provided an update on what’s happening at the August 16 meeting of the Places29-Hydraulic Community Advisory Committee. (download the presentation)

“The first project I’ll talk about is the Hydraulic and Georgetown office building,” Accardi said. 

The Albemarle Board of Supervisors granted a rezoning for the project back in 2008 to clear the way for offices. The project was dormant for many years, but a site plan was approved last October and construction on the one-acre site is underway. 

“The applicant is in the process of undergoing utility improvements on the site so you might see some work over there,” Accardi said. 

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Charlottesville PC reviews Urban Rivanna Corridor Plan

(This article originally appeared in the August 17, 2021 edition of Charlottesville Community Engagement)

The Rivanna River serves as the boundary between eastern Charlottesville and the Pantops area of Albemarle County. To the north is the Pen Park within Charlottesville, and the river meanders south to the Sentara Martha Jefferson complex.  What steps can be taken to connect the waterway to the built environment?

The area has been studied for many years, and the Thomas Jefferson Planning District Commission has been working on a study intended to unify future planning and implementation efforts. Nick Morrison is a planner with the TJPDC who updated the Charlottesville Planning Commission at their meeting on August 10. (TJPDC page on the plan)

“The goal of this phase of this planning project was to develop a vision and an action plan for that urban section of the corridor,” Morrison said. 

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Belmont Bridge construction details detailed

After several years of planning and study, there is an active construction site for the Belmont Bridge now that the project is fully approved and fully funded. The city held an information session on August 11 and Brian McPeters is with Kimley Horn, the firm that designed and engineered the bridge. The event was referred to as a Pardon Our Dust Meeting. (presentation) (watch the video)

“The project is primarily replacing the existing Belmont Bridge,” McPeters said. “That’s the bridge that carries traffic northbound and southbound over the railroad, over Old Avon, and over Water Street. It does include a secondary pedestrian-style bridge.”

(This article was originally in the August 16, 2021 Charlottesville Community Engagement)

That bridge connects to a new mezzanine to be built in the area leading to the Ting Pavilion, and will make the walkway from the bridge compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act. 

“But it will also build a concrete and steel structure that will be a great gathering place and create a sense of place for folks interacting with the bridge and accessing the Belmont Bridge,” McPeters said. 

Construction of the bridge will take about 31 months from now to complete, according to McPeters, the manager of the city’s urban construction initiative. The informational meeting focused on how the traffic of all types on the roadway will be affected.

“There will be inconvenience and we do ask for your patience and it will be our job to inform you of what that inconvenience will be so you can plan accordingly and possible take an alternate route or be prepared for slight delays,” McPeters said. 

Right now, construction activities have been limited to utility relocation and parking lot construction. When things really get underway, traffic will be moved around to different sections. 

“Generally speaking, during daytime hours, traffic will always have one lane northbound and one lane southbound, and then you’ll have turn lanes at the intersections similar to what you have today,” McPeters said. 

For the full details, take a look at the presentation. 

Some highlights from the project:

  • Five-way intersection at Old Avon/9th/Garret/Levy will be simplified with removal of Old Avon movement, with a section of Old Avon become a pedestrian plaza space 
  • Expansion of the pedestrian passageway from the bridge to the Pavilion area
  • A pedestrian passageway will be built at the Graves Street intersection to replace existing at-grade crosswalk 

Charlottesville property transactions in July 2021

(This piece went out first to paid subscribers of Charlottesville Community Engagement. Consider purchasing a subscription to help pay for this community resource!)

Another month in 2021, another time of interesting activity in the Charlottesville property market. Only a handful are below assessment, and there are quite a number of transactions that are well over assessment. There are a few items of new construction selling on infill properties, two major transactions on the mixed-use section of Cherry Avenue, and new homes in the Belmont Point and Lochlyn Hills neighborhoods continue to sell to their first owner.

What jumps out at you?

July 1, 2021

  • A commercial building that has been home to a doctor’s office on 10th Street NE sold for $1,295,000, which is 9.09 percent over the 2021 assessment. The purchaser is Little High LLC.
  • A unit in the condominium building on Cream Street sold for $235,500, which is 11.9 percent below the 2021 assessment. The purchaser is Wellington Properties LLC.
  • A two bedroom house on Cameron Lane on 0.316 acres in the Lewis Mountain Neighborhood sold for $487,500, or 17.5 percent over the 2021 assessment. 
  • A three bedroom house on Goodman Street in Belmont neighborhood built in 1929 sold for $600,000. That’s 52.98 percent over the 2021 assessment. 
  • As reported in the July 7, 2021 Charlottesville Community Engagement, Woodard Properties has purchased another couple of properties on Cherry Avenue in an area currently zoned for mixed-use. The company paid $1.55 million for two properties at 801 Cherry Avenue, currently a vacant lot. That’s 41.24 percent over the 2021 assessment. In April, Woodard Properties paid $3.1 million for the Cherry Avenue Shopping Center and five vacant properties behind it. These two lots make up about 0.85 acres.
Commercial building at 308 10th Street NE
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Studying the expansion of transit in Albemarle County

Charlottesville Area Transit is in the midst of studying how it might increase its service into northern Albemarle County. The northernmost stop for CAT has for many years been at the Wal-Mart on U.S. 29.

(This article was originally part of the August 11, 2021 edition of Charlottesville Community Engagement. Sign up today!)

At the same time, Albemarle County and the Thomas Jefferson Planning District Commission are doing the exact same work as part of a study partially funded by the Virginia Department of Rail and Public Transportation. 

Boris Palchik is a transit planning project manager with Foursquare Integrated Transportation Planning, a firm hired to help conduct the work. The other consultant is Michael Baker International. Palchik ran a meeting on July 26 that sought to get initial feedback for the study.

“It’s really a feasibility study and implementation plan for expanding transit service in both population and employment centers in Albemarle County,” Palchik said. 

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Council indicates support for Belmont rezoning

There’s an age-old question in land use. Which comes first? The development, or the infrastructure? Should developments be limited in size if all of the pieces aren’t yet in place to support additional residents? 

The topic came up during Council’s consideration on August 2 on the rezoning of 1206 Carlton Avenue which will allow development of an eight-unit apartment complex on a currently empty lot in Belmont. The project also requires a special use permit. City planner Matt Alfele represented city staff. 

“The applicant is also requesting side setbacks be modified from 13 feet to 8 feet,” Alfele said. “The application materials indicate the height of the building would be approximately 40 feet but no greater than the R-3 allotted 45 feet.” 

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Developer seeks rezoning for 525 units off of Old Ivy Road

A developer that builds rental housing throughout the world has filed an application with Albemarle County to rezone 36 acres of undeveloped land on Old Ivy Road for 525 units. Greystar wants to build on property to the west of the University Village retirement community and Huntington Village. 

“The residences planned for the Property are proposed to be entirely for rent, at least initially, in response to a strong interest in rental properties in the area,” reads the narrative for the proposal

In all there are five properties involved in what’s being called Old Ivy Residences, all but two of which are zoned already at the R-15 zoning category required for density. One 5.52 acre property is zoned R-1. However, there is also an application to change the status of steep slopes on the property from preserved to managed. The lands are currently owned by the Filthy Beast LLC, Father Goose LLC, and the Beyer Family Investment Partnership. 

According to the narrative, there would be 77 single-family homes, 43 townhouses, 58 duplexes and 312 apartments. Again, all rental. 

“Market research demonstrates a demand for single- family residences for young families, young professionals, graduate students and retirees who desire more space but are not interested in, or able to purchase a home at this stage of their lives,” the narrative continues. 

An existing pond on the property would be retained and serve as open space and for stormwater management. Some of the land had been purchased by the Virginia Department of Transportation for the Western Bypass, a project that was canceled in 2014. 

The western edge of the property is the U.S. 250 bypass 

(This article originally appeared in the August 4, 2021 installment of Charlottesville Community Engagement)

Freas hired to run Charlottesville Planning Department

Charlottesville has a new director of the department that oversees land use and zoning within the city. James Freas will be the next Director of Neighborhood Development Services, a position that’s been held by Alexander Ikefuna for the past six years. Freas is currently the director of Community and Economic Development in the town of Natick in Massachusetts, a position he has held since November 2019. Before that, he worked in land use positions in Newton, Massachusetts. He also served four years as a city planner in Hampton from 2005 to 2009.

This will be a return to Charlottesville for Freas, who graduated from the University of Virginia with an undergraduate degree in psychology. He also earned a Master of Community Planning from the University of Rhode Island and a Master of Studies in Environmental Law from the Vermont Law School. 

“I am excited to be returning to Virginia and eager to get started with the City,” Freas said in a release. “There are a number of important conversations happening right now around development and zoning and I look forward to engaging with the community.”

Freas will report to Deputy City Manager Sam Sanders and begins work on September 13. 

James Freas (Credit: City of Charlottesville)

(This story originally ran in the August 4, 2021 edition of Charlottesville Community Engagement)

Transactions of Property in Charlottesville in June 2021

Another month of transactions worth reviewing for anybody interested in land use in the city of Charlottesville. I don’t offer any trends or analysis here, except that most properties continue to sell above the assessed value. There are not any major commercial transactions this month, unless you count where an LLC purchases a residence or two.

I always hope to get these out faster, but it takes time to process. I could likely have a computer automate this to make it easier, but I manually look up each transaction in order to have a better sense of what’s happening with the real estate market. As I continue to write about the Cville Plans Together initiative, I find it very important to document all of these transactions about the here and now.

This piece is made possible through people who have subscribed to Charlottesville Community Engagement as well as those who make a monthly contribution through Patreon. Please do forward this on to others. Thank you helping to support a full year of independent journalism funded almost entirely by readers and listeners. Now, time to get to work on July!

June 1, 2021

  • A home built in 1955 in the 1300 block of Hilltop Road in the Barracks / Rugby neighborhood sold for $1.03 million. That’s actually 22.04 percent below the 2021 assessment. 
  • A two-bedroom home built in 1955 in the 700 block of Lexington Avenue in the Martha Jefferson neighborhood sold for $550,000. That’s 47.45 percent over the 2021 assessment. According to a listing on realtor.com, a new roof was put on in 2020 and a new heat pump was installed this year. The listing also states that it is a “great candidate for expansion, up and out!”
  • A three-bedroom home built in 1956 on Harris Road in the Fry’s Spring neighborhood sold for $452,000, or 37 percent over the 2021 assessment. 
  • Next door is another home built in 1956 that sold for $410,000, or 39.6 percent over the 2021 assessment. 
  • A 996 square foot unit in the Linden Town Lofts sold for $283,000. That’s 14.07 percent over the 2021 assessment of $248,100 and 27.48 percent over the 2020 assessment of $222,000. 
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