CRHA briefed on forthcoming redevelopment projects

The Charlottesville Redevelopment and Housing Authority’s Board of Commissioners held their final meeting before groundbreaking will take place for the first new public housing units to be built in a generation. 

Jay Kessler has been working as the project manager on behalf of the CRHA in a position known as “owner’s representative.”  Riverbend Development is the private partner under an LLC called the Affordable Housing Group.  

“And in this case, the owner is different than my normal clients because it really is AHG, it’s CRHA, and it’s PHAR,” Kessler said. “Owners have a significant role to play in the success of their design and construction projects. I bring a 35-year construction background.”  

Kessler said he had no prior experience working on projects that trigger regulations from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. Kessler said actual work at South First Street began on February 8.

“Right now they are working on getting erosion and sediment control set up, getting security fencing up, getting signs and banners up so people know what’s going on if they drive by on if they are not familiar with it,” Kessler said. 

The first building pad will be ready in April, followed by significant construction activities.  The work is expected to be complete in June 2022. 

Kessler said the Crescent Halls renovations are not as close to construction and negotiations are still underway for a contract price with GMH Construction. He said he hoped the project could close by the first week of March with construction beginning in mid-April and concluding toward the the end of 2022. 

“We had hoped to be there at the end of last week but didn’t quite get to where we have a final contract in place,” Kessler said. “Their plan is to start on the re-roofing of the building once the 8th floor is vacant so that we don’t have too much noise for residents living there.” 

Kessler said the construction schedule depended on enough residents volunteering to be temporarily relocated to other units within the building and that CRHA had enough verbal commitments to proceed.  

“There will be challenges with it being occupied during the renovations but that’s had a lot of discussion, a lot of planning,” Kessler said. 

The cost of both projects have increased due to a scarcity of building materials, which has resulted in an increase in costs.

“That’s definitely an issue on South First Street, but I know our contractor Breeden Construction factored in the cost risk into their contract so if the market changes, they are at that risk, not us, not the owner,” Kessler said. 

The occasion was noted by Joy Johnson of the Public Housing Association of Residents, who recently won the Dolbeare Lifetime Service Award from the National Low-Income Housing Coalition for her work in laying the groundwork for affordable housing reform in the city.

“The work that PHAR and myself has done, and to see those 63 units getting ready to go up and to see Crescent Halls getting ready…. …to be able to see that to me I am just very thankful,” Johnson said. 

The CRHA will have a work session on the agency’s capital budget on Thursday. It’s been postponed twice due to recent inclement weather. 

Crescent Halls was built in 1976Learn more about it in on cvillepedia.

Before you go: The time to write and research of this article is covered by paid subscribers to Charlottesville Community Engagement. In fact, this particular installment comes from the February 24, 2021 edition of the program. To ensure this research can be sustained, please consider becoming a paid subscriber or contributing monthly through Patreon.

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