At the height of the Great Recession earlier this century, Albemarle County froze many positions and slowed contributions to its capital improvement program. One job that was not filled for many years was transportation planning, but for the past few years, Albemarle has put together an organized list of potential projects to address road capacity issues as well as bike and pedestrian connections.
In July 2019, they adopted a priority list ranging from Hydraulic/29 Improvements at #1 to U.S. 250 West / Gillums Ridge Road Intersection Improvements at #89.
“That list provided all capital transportation projects that are recommended through the various county planning processes,” said Kevin McDermott , a chief of planning in Albemarle, in a May 19 to the Board of Supervisors. (review the update)
The list is intended to help planners identify funding sources for projects, such as the Virginia Department of Transportation’s Smart Scale program as well as the county’s own capital improvement program.
“We have gotten 12 projects from that 2019 project list funded,” McDermott said.
Hydraulic 29 / Improvements, including a pedestrian bridge over U.S. 29 and a roundabout at Hillsdale and Hydraulic, are slated to be funded at $24 million by Commonwealth Transportation Board in June (#1)
U.S. Route 250 improvements to add median between Route 20 and Rolkin Road to receive $6 million in Smart Scale funding using $2 million in local funds (#2)
Route 20 / U.S. 250 intersection will be rebuilt using funding from 2018 Smart Scale round sometime in 2024 (#3)
Berkmar Drive will be extended further north to Lewis and Clark Drive, providing a continuous roadway to UVA North Fork Research Park. Funding came from VDOT’s revenue sharing program.
Further changes to Fontaine Avenue / U.S. 29 intersection including a shared-use path (#6)
A roundabout will be built at Old Lynchburg Road and 5th Street Extended with $5 million in VDOT funds and $2 million in Albemarle funds (#7)
A roundabout at Rio Road and the John Warner Parkway is recommended for $8 million funding in the current Smart Scale process and $2 million in Albemarle funds will be used (#15)
Bike and pedestrian improvements will be made on Old Lynchburg Road using Albemarle funds (#26)
A section of the Northtown Trail shared-use path will be built between Seminole Lane North and Carrsbrook Drive at a cost of $4 million (#35)
A greenway trail on Moores Creek and a trail hub at 5th Street Station will receive Smart Scale funds and has a total cost of $10 million (#40)
A park and ride lot will be constructed near Exit 107 and Crozet Park to serve Jaunt and the future Afton Express at a cost of $3 million (#82)This map depicts location of projects that have received funding since 2019 (Credit: Albemarle County)
McDermott’s purpose for appearing before the supervisors was to get their preliminary support for the next round of transportation projects. At the top of a short list for this year’s cycle of VDOT revenue-sharing funds is the completion Eastern Avenue, a north-south roadway designed to increase connectivity and traffic circulation throughout Crozet.
“That project is currently being evaluated through an alignment study and conceptual design which the county has funded through our transportation leveraging project,” McDermott said. “We have just recently received the updated cost estimates from that consultant we have hired and their preliminary cost estimates are now at $19,983,000.”
That would require at least a $10 million match from county funds. However, if approved the state funding would not be available until 2027.
Another project on the list for potential revenue-sharing projects is one to build bike and pedestrian improvements on Mill Creek Drive to Peregory Lane, a top priority in a recent corridor study. That has a cost estimate of $2 million.
Applications for revenue-sharing projects are due this year. Next year Smart Scale projects will be due. Potential applications to be made next year include a roundabout at District Avenue and Hydraulic Road, a realignment of Hillsdale Drive, and a roundabout at the intersection of Belvedere Boulevard and Rio Road.
There’s plenty of time to get involved with these applications. Keep reading and stay tuned.
The fourth month of 2021 continued an active trend, with many single-family homes and their lots selling well over this year’s assessment.
With the exception of the purchase of a retail strip on Cherry Avenue, there were not many major transactions involving commercial real estate. Unless you count some of the purchases of residential properties by LLCs.
As the community considers the update of the Comprehensive Plan and the subsequent rewrite of the zoning code, paying attention to property transactions may give more perspective of what’s happening on the ground.
A single-family home in the Locust Grove neighborhood on Marshall Street sold for $630,000. That is 17.36 percent over the 2021 assessment and 22.31 percent over the 2020 assessment.
A condominium in the Charlottesville Towers on 511 First Street North sold for $193,500. That is 24.76 percent over the 2021 assessment.
A single-family home on Highland Avenue in Fry’s Spring sold for $361,000, or 4.52 percent under the assessment.
A 1920 structure on Chancellor Street off of the UVA Corner sold for $1.1 million to Jefferson Street Properties LLC. The transaction is 27.29 percent over the assessment.
Woodard Properties purchased the Cherry Avenue Shopping Center and vacant land directly behind the retail strip built in 1965. The vacant land sold for $1.4 million, which is 159.93 percent over the combined 2021 assessment of $538,600.
513 7 ½ Street is a 0.142 acre lot zoned R-2 and has a 2021 assessment of $89,300
0 Elm Street is a 0.7962 acre lot zoned MLTP and has a 2021 assessment of $161,700
0 Elm Street is a 0.148 acre lot zoned R-2 and has a 2021 assessment of $89,300
0 Elm Street is a 0.258 acre lot zoned R-2 and has a 2021 assessment of $89,300
725 Elm Street is a 0.207 acre lot zoned R-2 and has a 2021 assessment of $110,000
One half of a duplex in the 800 block of Estes Street in Fifeville sold for $200,000, or 16.48 percent over the 2021 assessment. The structure was built in 1900 according to the city’s property records.
A unit in the Ridgecrest townhome community sold for $228,000, which is 1.98 percent under the 2021 assessment. The 2020 assessment was $186,400, making this transaction 22.32 percent over that figure
April 5, 2021
A single-family home on Brook Road near Greenbrier Elementary School sold for $527,300, or 22.94 percent over the 2021 assessment. The home was built in 1963.
The title of an apartment building on University Circle was transferred to an LLC called Highisland. The building was constructed in 1930 and has a 2021 assessment of $628,600.
A single-family home in the 1400 block of Cherry Avenue sold for $265,000, or $500 below the 2021 assessment. The structure is 1,058 square feet and is on land currently zoned R-2.
A single-family home in the 700 block of Blenheim Avenue in Belmont sold for $435,000, or 24.21 percent over the 2021 assessment.
April 6, 2021
A single-family home in the 700 block of Concord Avenue in the Rose Hill neighborhood sold for $577,000. That is 50.73 percent over the 2021 assessment of $382,800. A building constructed in 1945 was upgraded in 2019 to become a four-bedroom home.
A home built in 1890 in the 500 block of 1st Street North sold for $1.626 million, or 10.9 percent over the 2021 assessment.
A single-family home on Camelia Drive in Fry’s Spring sold for $424,000, or 40.17 percent over the 2021 assessment.
April 8, 2021
A single-family home on Rosser Lane in the Rugby neighborhood sold for $660,000, which is 8.55 percent under the 2021 assessment.
A unit in an apartment building on Monroe Lane near the University of Virginia Health System sold for $550,000 to RRW3 Charlottesville LLC. That is 25.54 percent over the 2021 assessment.
April 9, 2021
An undeveloped 0.477 acre lot on Spottswood Road in Barracks / Rugby sold for $375,000. That’s 25 percent over the assessment.
April 12, 2021
A home built in 2013 in the 700 block of Nalle Street in Fifeville sold for $700,000, which is 85.53 percent of the 2021 assessment. The 2,487 square foot building has four bedrooms. The 0.125 acre lot on which it stands was separated from the adjacent property in 2013 and sold for $60,000 at the time.
A single-family home built in 1959 on Azalea Drive sold for $530,000, of 15.85 percent over the assessment.
April 13, 2021
A single-family home built in 1958 on Brandywine Drive sold for $495,000, or 9.98 percent over the 2021 assessment.
A townhome built in 2017 at the end of Longwood Drive sold for $330,000, or 12.24 percent over the assessment.
April 14, 2021
A townhouse unit on Penick Court built in 2015 as part of the Burnet Commons development sold for $447,000, or 8.81 percent over the 2021 assessment.
A single-family home built in 1963 on McElroy Drive in Fry’s Spring sold for $425,000, or 21.01 percent over the assessment.
April 15, 2021
A single-family home in the Locust Grove neighborhood on Smith Lane sold for $205,000, or 1.11 percent under the 2021 assessment. The 715 square foot structure was built in 1968 and is on 0.258 acres.
A vacant 0.142 acre lot in the Lochlyn Hill development sold to Arcadia Builders Inc for $152,200. That’s 8.75 percent over the 2021 assessment.
A single-family home in the 1000 block of Montrose Avenue sold for $325,000, or 44.06 percent over the 2021 assessment. The structure was built in 1954 and sits on 0.133 acres.
One-half of a duplex in the 700 block of Prospect Avenue sold for $161,855, or 19.98 percent over the 2021 assessment.
April 16, 2021
A new three-bedroom single family home on Lochlyn Hill Drive sold for $664,865.
One unit in a three-unit townhouse on John Street in the 10th and Page neighborhood sold for $475,000, or 10.9 percent over the 2021 assessment.
A single-family home on Brandywine Drive built in 2007 sold for $599,000. That’s 20.33 percent over the 2021 assessment.
A single-family home on Sunset Avenue in the Fry’s Spring neighborhood sold for $385,000, or 57.85 percent over the 2021 assessment. The 960 square foot home was built in 1957 and is on 0.298 acres of land.
April 19, 2021
A vacant lot near Dairy Road adjacent to the U.S. 250 bypass sold for $40,000, or 31.58 percent over the 2021 assessment. The lot is 0.88 acres and is zoned R-1. It does not appear to have road access at the moment.
The property immediately to the south on Dairy Road sold for $679,000, or 6.78 percent over assessment. There is a single-family home built in 1955.
A single-family home on Hardwood Avenue in the Rose Hill neighborhood sold for $479,000, or 20.87% over the 2021 assessment. The structure was built in 1956.
A duplex in a structure built in 1920 in the 800 block of Ridge Street sold for $115,000. That’s 54.02 percent under the 2021 assessment.
April 20, 2021
A vacant lot on Porter Avenue in the Fry’s Spring avenue sold for $94,000 to CAVS LLC. That’s 30.37 percent below the 2021 assessment of $135,000.
CAVS LLC also purchased two lots on Naylor Street in the Fry’s Spring neighborhood for $100,000 each. Both had an assessment of $129,000, or 22.48 percent under assessment.
Brace yourselves for this one. A structure built in 1949 on Thomson Road in the Lewis Mountain neighborhood sold for $2 million. That is 117.11 percent over the assessment. The purchaser is Sun Creek Properties LLC, which was formed on April 7. The property sold most recently in 1982 for $245,000. It’s a five-unit apartment building.
April 21, 2021
A single-family home on Holmes Avenue in the Locust Grove neighborhood sold for $362,000. That’s 22.96 percent above the 2021 assessment.
A unit at 203 2nd Street NW in North Downtown sold for $390,000. That’s 0.10 percent over the 2021 assessment and 8.12 percent over the 2020 assessment.
A single-family home on Oxford Road in the Barracks / Rugby neighborhood sold for $460,000. That’s 25.24 percent over the 2021 assessment.
A single-family home on Thomson Road in the Lewis Mountain neighborhood built in 1951 sold for $851,989, or 17.97 percent over the assessment.
April 22, 2021
A single-family home on Meriwether Street in the Martha Jefferson neighborhood sold for $305,000. That’s 10.23 percent over the 2021 assessment. According to property records, the structure has 786 square feet of finished space.
A single-family home on Shelby Drive in the Meadows neighborhood sold for $262,000. The structure was built in 1959 and the purchase price is 7.32 percent below the 2021 assessment. The 2020 assessment was $262,200.
A new 3,017 square foot, four-bedroom single-family home on Lochlyn Hill Drive sold for $750,000. The 0.128 lot had been assessed at $140,000.
A single-family home in the 500 block of Avon Street sold for $645,000. That’s 48.58 percent over the 2021 assessment, and 86.31 percent over the 2021 assessment.
A single-family home in the 1100 block of Avon Street sold for $318,000. That’s 11.46 percent over assessment.
A single-family house in the 900 block of Montrose Avenue built in 1920 sold for $290,000. That’s 31.94 percent over the 2021 assessment.
An empty lot on Bolling Avenue changed hands without a sales price. The 0.139 acre property has an assessed value of $105,500.
A single-family home and a structure adjacent in the 1900 block of Thomson Road in the Lewis Mountain neighborhood were both sold for $1.95 million to Hooville LLC, a company with an address in Palm Coast, Florida. The combined 2021 assessment of the two properties was just over $1.2 million. That makes the purchase price 61.85 percent over the 2021 assessment.
A unit on Old Fifth Circle at the corner of Harris Street and Fifth Street Extended sold for $312,000. That is 17.82 percent over the 2021 assessment.
April 23 ,2021
New construction on Bennett Street in the Lochlyn Hill neighborhood sold for $429,000. This structure has three bedrooms and 1,613 square feet of space.
A residential unit in the mixed-use condominium at 820 East High Street sold for $220,000. That’s 15.42 percent below the 2021 assessment.
A single-family home built in 2014 in the Huntley community in Fry’s Spring sold for $420,000. That’s 11.49 percent above the 2021 assessment.
April 26, 2021
A unit in the Queen Charlotte building on East Jefferson Street sold for $525,000, or 12.66 percent over the 2021 assessment.
A unit in the Monticello Overlook apartment building on Monticello Avenue sold for $120,000, which is 2.92 percent above the 2021 assessment.
A single-family home built in 2004 as part of the Burnet Commons development sold for $450,000. That price is 14.59 percent over the 2021 assessment.
April 27, 2021
A two-story home with a finished basement on Keith Valley Road in the Meadowbrook Heights neighborhood sold for $500,000. That’s below the 2021 assessment of $524,700 by 4.71 percent.
April 28, 2021
One half of a duplex on Little High Street in the Martha Jefferson Neighborhood sold for $305,000, which is $17.53 percent over the 2021 assessment. The seller was the firm Neighborhood Investments.
A single-family home built in 2005 on Kenwood Lane in the Greenbrier neighborhood sold for $825,000. That price is 5.74 percent over the 2021 assessment.
Elsewhere in Greenbrier, another single-family home on Grove Avenue sold for $887,500. That’s 39.61 percent over the 2021 assessment for a home built in 1940.
A home on Nicholson Lane built in 2018 as part of the Lochlyn Hill development sold for $550,000, a 6.4 percent increase over the 2021 assessment. In 2020, the building was assessed for $466,000.
A single-family home in the 1300 block of King Street in Fifeville sold for $400,000, or 32.93 percent over the 2021 assessment.
A single-family home on 2nd Street SE at the southern entrance to the Ix complex sold for $442,500. That’s 91.56 percent over the 2021 assessment, which may not reflect improvements made to the structure in recent years.
Another single-family home in the 1100 block of Avon Street sold for $387,000, or 19.41 percent over the 2021 assessment.
In the 800 block of Monticello Avenue, a single-family home built in 1924 sold for $458,500, or 73.61 percent over the assessment.
April 29, 2021
Arcadia Builders purchased another lot in the Lochlyn Hill Development for $152,250, or 8.75 percent over the 2021 assessment.
A single-family home built in 1967 in the 1700 block of Yorktown Drive sold for $485,000. That’s 1.98 above the 2021 assessment.
In the Barracks / Rugby neighborhood, a single-family home built in 1953 on Cambridge Circle sold for $439,500. That’s 6.98 percent below the 2021 assessment.
A unit in the 700 block of Walker Square in Fifeville sold for $250,000, or 7.99 percent above the assessment.
A single-family home built in 2007 on Roy’s Place in the Ridge Street neighborhood sold for $395,000, or 13.44 percent over the 2021 assessment.
A single-family home in Johnson Village built in 1965 on Village Court sold for $451,000, or 27.4 percent over the assessment.
A single-family home in Fry’s Spring on Porter Avenue sold for $625,000, or 7.26 percent above the 2021 assessment
April 30, 2021
A single-family home on Sheridan Avenue in the Locust Grove neighborhood sold for $305,750, or 19.39 percent over the 2021 assessment of $256,100. The house was built in 1952.
A single-family house on Hillcrest Road off of the U.S. 250 Bypass sold for $615,000. That’s 62.14 percent above the 2021 assessment.
Another home on Avon Street sold, this time in the 1000 block. The structure from 1956 changed hands at a price of $470,000, which is 22.4 percent over the 2021 assessment.
A split-level house on Forest Ridge Street sold for $317,000, which is 0.25 percent under the 2021 assessment.
A townhouse in a row built in 2017 at the end of Longwood Drive sold for $365,000, or 16.58 percent over the 2021 assessment.
An apartment unit in Walker Square with 1,119 square feet sold for $330,000, or 4.93 percent over the 2021 assessment.
A single-family home with three bedrooms in the 900 block of 6th Street SE sold for $330,000, or 20.57 percent over the 2021 assessment.
This edition of Charlottesville Community Engagement is written for paid subscribers. However, please send the email around to others and encourage them to subscribe. It takes a lot of time to produce these items, and Town Crier Productions is a new company that seeks to provide the community with information about itself.
The steering committee overseeing the Cville Plans Together initiative met on May 19 to take a mid-month review of the latest round of the public engagement efforts. To recap, Rhodeside & Harwell is overseeing an update of the city’s Comprehensive Plan as well as a rewrite of the city’s zoning code. They’ve already produced an affordable housing strategy that City Council adopted in March. (review the plan)
In February 2019, Council voted to approve spending up to $1 million to hire an outside consultant to take over oversight of the Comprehensive Plan. For background, read my story from then to explain the reasons behind the decision.
The work got underway in January 2020 and continued during the pandemic with virtual meetings. There were two previous community engagement periods last year in addition to the one underway now.
“We fully recognize there are folks in the community who may not have been aware of this process that was going,” Koch said. “We’ve been working hard to reach folks but it’s been quite a year… We’ve been doing a lot of virtual engagement for the past year and we don’t anticipate that will completely go away as we move forward but we also know it’s really nice to speak with people in person.”
First, members of the steering committee had the opportunity to weigh in. One of them is City Councilor Michael Payne, who will be one of five votes to adopt the Comprehensive Plan and the updated zoning code sometime next year. At this stage, he wanted to suggest a change in the title of one of the draft chapters.
“With the Economic Prosperity and Opportunity [chapter], I know it mentions community wealth building in the update but I still wonder if it may make more sense for the chapter itself to be focused on community wealth building, again to try to gear that chapter towards more system change thinking about things like community land trusts, community development corporations, [and] community gardens all interconnect as a system for wealth creation that’s different than the normal way of doing economic development,” Payne said.
Christine Jacobs, the interim executive director of the Thomas Jefferson Planning District Commission, applauded language about regional partnerships. However, she wanted her organization to be more specifically referenced given the number of bodies it runs on which Charlottesville City Councilors serve.
“The TJPDC does have the Charlottesville-Albemarle MPO,” Jacobs said. “It also has the Regional Transit Partnership and the Regional Housing Partnership.”
Diana Dale represents the leaders of neighborhood associations in the city, some of which have expressed concern about too much density. She drew attention to the chapter on Land Use, Urban Form, and Historic and Cultural Preservation.
“And I’m thinking in particular of goal two,” Dale said, reading from the chapter summary. “Protect and enhance existing distinct identitiess of the city’s older neighborhoods while promoting housing options, a mix of uses, and sustainble reuses in the community.”
Dale said some residents of neighborhoods are concerned that some of their portions have been changed from low-intensity to medium-intensity, such as most of the Lewis Mountain neighborhood and some of the Martha Jefferson neighborhood. That could allow between four to 12 units per lot, but that will remain unclear until it is time to rewrite the zoning code.
“What is aspirational? And what is actually codifiable?” Dale asked.
The zoning rewrite will be conducted by the firm Code Studio, a subcontractor whose work will be informed by the affordable housing plan and the Future Land Use Map.
“I’m not certain that we have a whole lot of the answers,” said Lee Einsweiler of Code Studio. “We were hoping we could work through things at the more generalized level of the Future Land Use Map and then begin to craft strategies for implementing those tools.”
Einsweiler said that each category on the future land use map will not be represented by a single zoning district.
“There would be two, three, four implementing zoning districts that might all have appropriate strategies for different types of the community but those can’t quite be figured out until we can understand where they are likely to be applied,” said Lee Einsweiler.
Dale remained concerned.
“The vagueness is not helping people’s confidence in the plan,” Dale said.
Dale also expressed concern about the impacts of a more people on the existing infrastructure. She said roads might need to be widened to accommodate additional traffic, and stated the city has issues delivering on infrastructure projects such as frequent buses and a consistent bike and sidewalk network.
“The guidance is recommending multimodal strategies, and that’s going to take time and funding to implement and that’s been a long struggle for a lot of improvements over time for those of who have been in the city,” Dale said.
There are 19 neighborhoods across the city, and the 2007 Comprehensive Plan contains an entire appendix of specific requests from neighborhoods that came from a city-wide design day arranged by a now-defunct non-profit called the Charlottesville Community Design Center. That approach was abandoned for the 2013 Comprehensive Plan and the 2017 process did not seek a thorough capturing of what residents of neighborhoods wanted.
Ashley Davies, who represents the Charlottesville Area Development Roundtable on the steering committee, suggested an approach that built upon previous efforts to plan at a neighborhood level.
“I think people are hungry to give you feedback that is more specific to their area and I think it’s a shame that we can’t have the time right now to do the small area planning because I think that’s what a lot of people want to inform the land use plan,” Davies said.
There’s a lot of discussion of what role the Future Land Use Map plays. Is it advisory? If so, what does that mean? Ron Sessoms is with Rhodeside and Harwell.
“The future land use map is a critical component of a Comprehensive Plan and sets the stage for the city’s long-term vision of how it’s going to grow,” said Ron Sessoms of Rhodeside & Harwell (RHI). “You can think of this as the 10,000 foot view of the city and defining where there are opportunities for growth.”
Sessoms said the land use map is a guide for development, but is not binding like zoning.
“As we think about the future land use map, it’s much more broad and the zoning code is much more detailed with specifics of what it means to fulfil the future land use map,” Sessoms said.
The medium intensity residential category is new with this comp plan update, and encourages construction between four and 12 units per lot. Sessoms said that did not have to be out of scale with existing buildings.
“They can be integrated into the fabric of a neighborhood,” Sessoms said. “They don’t have to be five stories to get fourplexes or any of the medium intensity development types.”
Ashley Davies said she liked that the future land use map begins a process of reducing the amount of areas colored as low-intensity residential, but thought there should be some sense of what types of housing units are prioritized.
“It seems to me the strategy for adding units in the city and adding residential, maybe we need to talk about the hierarchy of that can truly happen in Charlottesville,” Davies said.
Dale said the Martha Jefferson Neighborhood Association’s Board of Directors supports soft density by adding accessory units and permitting apartments within structures. But they don’t support being colored as medium intensity.
“Is there an opportunity to merge the ambitions of transforming Charlottesville to general residential, which is a big step to begin with, and to merge some of the intentions of the medium intensity?” Dale asked. “I recognize this may happen as you move to more strata, more levels of medium density.”
This draft also includes a name change for Low Density Residential to General Residential, which recommends up to three units per lot.
Lena Seville, a Belmont resident who is on the steering committee, wanted to know why General Residential didn’t recommend allowing four units per lot.
“There are plenty of little houses that are split into four,” Seville said. “At two stories, it’s four apartments. They’re easier to build. They mirror each other. They have the same footprint.”
Much of what is happening in Charlottesville is patterned off an effort in Minneapolis, where their City Council voted to permit duplexes and triplexes in all R-1 areas. Here’s Lee Einsweiler with Code Studio again.
“You may have followed the exercise in Minneapolis in which they began talking about four but ended up adopting three,” Einsweiler said. “Part of the conversation was about the likelihood that the existing house would be replaced as opposed to split. The three is most likely an additional building on the property and a main unit carved out of the main house.”
“While this process has been going on for a while now there are still many folks in the community that I’ve spoken to who have no idea about this process,” Washington said. “Is there any plan to really put some education out there for folks who are having difficulty understanding the planning process so they can better participate?”
LaToya Thomas of the firm Brick and Story acknowledges that many people are not knowledgeable in planning issues, but the Cville Plans Together initiative wants to educate more people especially as the pandemic recedes.
“We are reaching out to as many people that we can get connected to, but we also know that many of you are connected to folks and so we will continue to make ourselves available if there are groups of folks that you want to convene,” Thomas said.
Dale suggested a pause while people get caught up on the planning process. That would give people the chance to read the many recommendations in the affordable housing plan adopted by Council in March.
“Most of the community doesn’t really understand how it informs the plan,” Dale said. “It was previewed with the public last fall when everyone had their head down dealing with Zoom school and Zoom work and health care and everything else. It was a 100-year health event.”
S. Lisa Herndon is a Realtor on the steering committee who wants to see a map that depicts where redlining occurred which overlays areas proposed for more intense development.
“Going back to the history of Vinegar Hill and Gospel Hill, there [are] communities that were negatively impacted and now we’re going through redevelopment again and we see a lack of equity in terms of participation and I see nothing within this which shows where we were and how we’re going to prevent that negative effect in communities of African-American historical context,” Hernson said. “I don’t see that.”
Sunshine Mathon, executive director of the Piedmont Housing Alliance, said he has been through this process in other communities where he has worked. He reminded people the intent of the initiative is to guide change.
“One of the things that gets lost in the translation is that change is constant and people have this assumption that their neighborhoods are a thing and have always been that thing which is fundamentally not true,” Mathon said. “One of the changes that we are seeing across the city regardless of the form of the city, one of the real changes is a dramatic increase in the cost of living in the city. That’s a fundamental change. The plan itself can’t be the change that solves that on its own, but it is an ingredient in that tool set.”
Comments will be accepted through June 13 now that a two-week extension has been granted. The Planning Commission is expected to have a work session on June 29.
The main event at Council’s meeting on May 17, 2021 was direction to proceed with a plan to use millions of funding from the Virginia Department of Transportation to cover another cost overrun for the long-planned Belmont Bridge replacement. The project was put out for construction bids in February with a $31 million cost estimate. According to the city’s Urban Construction Initiative manager Jeanette Janiczek, that wasn’t enough money.
“The lowest responsive, responsible bid can be awarded with existing project funds, however there is a need for additional funding, $4.2 million, to cover contingency, construction inspection services, VDOT oversight, as well as utility relocation,” Janiczek said.
VDOT has suggested adding funds from its bridge maintenance account, something referred to as State of Good Repair. Janiczek said possible reasons for the higher estimate include inflation, increases in material costs, and potential issues related to the pandemic.
Janiczek said one choice would have been to remove items from the project, such as a pedestrian tunnel on the southern end.
“Any of these options would result in us having to rebid the project,” Janiczek said. “This adds at least a year in time but most importantly it doesn’t fulfil the commitments we’ve made to the public as well as the Board of Architectural Review.”
Janiczek if the appropriation of the VDOT goes forward in June, construction could begin this summer. Another public meeting will be held when the contractor is hired to explain how traffic will continue to use the bridge during construction.
“So once they submit their baseline schedule, we’ll release that to the public and let people know what to expect during construction,” Janiczek said.
Asked by Council if the project costs could increase, Janiczek said many of the prices for materials would be locked in as soon as the construction contract begins.
City Manager Chip Boyles said he thought construction costs would increase as the federal government prepares to make billions of investments in infrastructure projects. That’s why he r
“If this project is delayed, we’re already seeing very substantial inflationary projections into the near future,” Boyles said. “If President Biden’s infrastructure package that is in Congress is approved, you will see multiple fold of capital projects underway. If this had to be rebid, I would say that we would end up with less product and at least the same amount or more of the cost.”
The second reading of the appropriation will be on the consent agenda for Council’s June 7 meeting. They’ll next meet on May 25 to have a work session on the 7th Street Parking garage followed by a May 26 joint meeting with the city School Board on the reconfiguration of the city’s middle schools.
Council adjourned their meeting before 8 p.m. something that newcomers to city government should never ever expect.
Tonight, the Charlottesville Planning Commission will have a joint public hearing with the City Council on a rezoning on a cul-de-sac on the western edge of Fifeville. A property owner on Valley Road Extended seeks the rezoning and a special use permit to build four apartment units on just under two-thirds of land. The applicant is proffering $48,000 to build a portion of sidewalk and have suggested it could be part of a larger network. (meeting info)
“Sidewalk improvements along the new parcel frontage along Valley Road Extended that ultimately may be incorporated into a more robust pedestrian and bicycle improvement network if the multi-use tunnel under the railroad right of way, as called for in the  Bike and Pedestrian Master Plan,” reads the narrative.
The narrative references a map on page 38 of the plan that depicts many desired projects throughout the city. One of them is this underpass at the northern end of Valley Road Extended.
However, there is no active project planned for such a tunnel at this site to occur, according to city Communications Director Brian Wheeler. In all, there is a distance of 4,500 feet where the railroad bisects the Fifeville neighborhood from the University of Virginia without a pedestrian or vehicular crossing, between Shamrock Road and Roosevelt Brown Boulevard.
The University of Virginia is also not planning for a tunnel at that location, according to its non-voting representative on the Planning Commission. After the city agreed to hand over right of way for the Brandon Avenue corridor, UVA agreed to study for a railroad crossing and settled on a different planning concept closer to Monroe Lane and Paton Street. However, they are not pursuing a crossing at this time but will work with the city on an easement should it choose to proceed.
(This article originally appeared in the May 11, 2021 edition of Charlottesville Community Engagement)
The Charlottesville Tree Commission got an update on several topics at its meeting on May 4, including an update on several projects planned for Charlottesville’s McIntire Park.
“In McIntire Park there are three projects going on that are really private-public partnerships,” said Peggy Van Yahres, a member of the Tree Commission.
Van Yahres is part of one project to install a memorial grove in McIntire Park to commemorate people who have been awarded the Charlottesville Regional Chamber of Commerce’s citizenship award.
“We wanted to preserve the landmark oak trees on the top of McIntire Park on the east side,” Van Yahres said. “The other objective was just to enliven the park and make it a better place for people to go and sit underneath these beautiful trees.”
The memorial would be a stone terrace on which the names of the past and future award winners would be displayed.
“There will be a beautiful lawn, people can play, a walkway, and of course, a lot more oak trees to continue the tradition,” Van Yahres said.
Van Yahres said the grove has been added to the schematic design for the Botanical Garden of the Piedmont. That’s the new name for the nonprofit that entered into a memorandum of agreement with the City of Charlottesville to operate in the northeast section of McIntire Park. She said the grove will hopefully be installed by this fall.
As for the garden, Jill Trischman-Marks is executive director of the newly renamed organization. There was a naming contest.
“We had over two hundred responses and selected Botanical Garden of the Piedmont because it was precise and concise,” Trischman-Marks said. “It not only identified where the garden is located but it also talked about the trees and other plants that will be highlighted in this garden.”
The nonprofit is on the hook to raise funds to pay for infrastructure and to install the garden.
“The city of Charlottesville has dedicated the land to this project but that’s where the taxpayer burden ends,” Trischman-Marks said. “All of the funds that are needed to design, construct, and maintain the garden will be privately raised but once it is built just like any other city park, the Botanical Garden will be free and accessible to all.”
“And share the survey with your friends, families, and neighbors because the more feedback we get, the better this garden will be,” Trischman-Marks said
Trischman-Marks will update the Charlottesville Planning Commission at their meeting on Tuesday.
The third project is a more low-key initiative from the Charlottesville Area Tree Stewards to plant new specimens.
Later in the meeting, the Tree Commission got an update on plans to fight the Emerald Ash Borer from the city arborist, Mike Ronayne.
“The Emerald Ash borer is an invasive insect from Siberia and it will be killing all of our untreated ash trees in Charlottesville,” Ronayne said. “And now it seems like it’s come through other parts of Virginia like northern Virginia and now we’re really just starting to deal with all the dead ash trees that we’re finding in Charlottesville.”
The goal is to protect 31 individual trees in the city, and have sought additional funding from City Council for the purpose and to remove the dead trees. About one to two percent of trees in the city’s parkland are ash trees. A draft cost estimate to remove the trees over five years is $480,000. That does not cover the cost of planting replacements. The cost to annually treat those 31 trees will be $8,425 a year. Todd Brown is the city’s director of parks and recreation.
“Basically this is a state of emergency situation,” Brown said. “These trees are dying. Ninety-nine percent of them are going to die and right now we’ve been hitting at a tiny fraction of them. For everyone we’re doing, there are ten more that need to be done and ten more that die. We’re chasing a moving target that’s eventually going to stop and eventually we are going to have to catch up to it.”
One of the largest capital expenses facing any governmental entity in the community is the nine and a half mile waterline the Rivanna Water and Sewer Authority (RWSA) has planned. Long planned, the line will connect the South Fork Rivanna Reservoir and the Ragged Mountain Reservoir. Ragged Mountain is currently fed by a pipeline from Sugar Hollow Reservoir, one that is nearing a hundred years old. The new waterline won’t be built for several more years, but the RWSA has been acquiring the right of way for the project. Executive Director Bill Mawyer gave his Board an update on April 27, 2021.
“The Albemarle County School Board granted about a one mile easement for the Rivanna to Ragged Mountain project this month,” Mawyer said.
In all, the RWSA has easements for about six of the 9.5 miles and is in negotiations with the University of Foundation and private property owners for the rest. The RWSA has a 40 year lease with the city of Charlottesville to operate the Ragged Mountain reservoir which expires in 2052. There’s talk already of extending those terms given the community investment in the water supply plan.
“So as an example based on our current schedule, we would finish the new pipeline say around 2033, and then in effect we would only have 20 years left on the lease of a major water supply facility that we’ve just spent a lot of money on to expand and build the pipeline so we can fill it,” Mawyer said.
The RWSA Board also got an update on the health of the five reservoirs maintained by the authority. Their usable storage volume is updated every ten years according to water resources manager Andrea Bowles.
“We get this information from our bathymetries that we do,” Bowles said. “We do bathymetries for the urban system reservoirs every ten years.”
One of the concerns is the presence of algae in reservoirs, which can lead to oxygen depletion that threatens aquatic life. Each of the five reservoirs has a slightly different balance and Bowles explained how algae is managed. Beaver Creek Reservoir is currently the one most prone to blooms. There were five at the Crozet waterway in 2020, but none of them were problematic enough to require treatment.
“That is the reservoir that we’re going to do an alternative of hypolimnetic oxygenation to try to help with blooms,” Bowles said.
An algae bloom at Ragged Mountain Reservoir is underway and treatment was expected to begin last week.
“We are having an issue with an algae called dinobryon which is a golden algae, not a blue-green algae, it doesn’t produce the toxins,” Bowles said. “We have that right now going on in Ragged Mountain. It is a big taste and odor producer and we have a threshold and it is slightly over the threshold.”
Much of what I write about is planning. But to really understand what’s happening in Charlottesville, it’s important to look through transactions. I share this with you to give an anecdotal view of the market. No analysis is intended with this list, but I do think reading through it is a valuable exercise for anyone interested in land use in Charlottesville.
This time around, a lot of bank buildings were purchased. Lots of units in the Ridgecrest townhouse complex sold. Prices continued to increase for lots finished and ready for development.
The owner of a single family home on 14th Street NW that was built in 1921 was transferred by the owner to an LLC that is the same as the structure’s address.
A new single-family home in Charlottesville’s side of the Lochlyn Hill neighborhood on Lochlyn Hill Drive sold for $415,000. The lot was appraised in 2021 at $91,000.
A company called 418 Investors LLC purchased two office spaces inside of the King Building on East Water Street. Suite 800 sold for $990,000 and Suite 900 sold for $290,000. Suite 800 has a 2021 assessment of $1,448,700 making the sale 31.6 percent below that value. The sale of Suite 900 was eleven percent below the assessed value of $325,800.
A single family house on Oakleaf Lane right next to Walker Upper Elementary School sold for $334,700, or 1.58 percent over the assessment.
To keep up with what’s happening in land use in the community, I spend some free time when I can going through recent transactions. No analysis of this is intended. The point is to have a snapshot of various transactions.
A house in the 1600 block of Yorktown Drive sold for $775,000, or 1.79 percent over the 2021 assessed value of $761,400. The property had been assessed at $689,900 in 2020.
February 2, 2021
A four bedroom townhouse in the Lochlyn Hill subdivision sold for $398,900. There was no 2021 assessment because the construction is new.
A 1935 home at the corner of Oxford Road and Rugby Road sold for $1.582 million. That’s 12 percent over the 2021 assessment of $1.412 million, and 88 percent over the 2020 assessment of $838,600.
February 3, 2021
Four building lots on Stonehenge Avenue Extended in Belmont sold for $480,000. Each is assessed at $125,000. They were assessed in 2020 at $55,000 a piece. A rezoning for this area was approved by Council in May 2013 on a 3-2 vote. (cvillepedia link)
February 4, 2021
A single-family home on Azalea Drive sold for $375,000, or 11.7 percent below the 2021 assessed value of $423,000.
February 5, 2021
A single-family home on Meridian Street in lower Belmont sold for $185,000, or 30.2 percent below the 2021 assessment.
A single-family home in the 500 block of Meade Avenue sold for $235,000, or two percent above assessment. The structure was built in 1935 and has just over 1,000 square feet of floor space.
One half of a duplex in the 700 block of Prospect Avenue sold for $150,000, or 9.73 percent over the assessment. This property is within the bounds of the Cherry Avenue Small Area Plan, which was added to the city’s Comprehensive Plan on March 1, 2021.
February 8, 2021
A condo in a building at 808 East Jefferson sold for $340,000, or 9.36 percent over the 2021 assessment. The 2020 assessment was $261,300.
A single-family home in the 1,000 block of East Rio Road sold for $330,000, or 2.45 percent below the 2021 assessment. The structure was built in 1962.
A duplex at the corner of Forest Hills Avenue and 9th Street had a title change on this day. The people who bought the property in December for $321,000 (13.7 percent over 2020 assessment) placed it under the ownership of an LLC.
February 9, 2021
A condo unit in the Ridgecrest development sold for $202,100 to an LLC, or 9.42 over the 2021 assessment. In 2020, the property had been assessed at $168,700. Ridgecrest is just to the north of Rives Park.
February 10, 2021
A condo in the 1800 Jefferson Park Avenue building sold for $190,000, or 7.53 percent over the 2021 assessment. The structure was built in 1968.
A single-family home on Rosa Terrace in Belmont sold for $225,000, or 8.8 percent over the 2021 assessment. An LLC purchased the property.
February 11, 2021
A single-family home built in 1910 in the 600 block of Bolling Avenue sold for $389,244. That’s 75 percent over the 2021 assessment of $223,300.
A pair of lots on Nicholson Street in the Lochlyn Hill neighborhood sold for $256,200. This section of the development is adjacent to Pen Park.
February 12, 2021
A three bedroom home built in 2017 as part of the Rialto Beach Planned Unit Development sold for $500,000. That’s 6.94 percent below the 2021 assessment of $537,300.
A pair of new homes in the 700 block of Lochlyn Hill Drive sold this week. A four bedroom townhouse sold for $431,268 and a second unit sold for $396,400. There are no assessments for the improvements, but the land for each is assessed at $91,000. The first unit is perhaps more expensive because it is one of the end units.
A single-family home north of the 250 Bypass on Wilder Drive sold for $510,000, or about two percent below the 2021 assessment.
A townhouse unit in Burnet Commons 3 on Almere Avenue sold for $480,000, or five percent below the assessment. This development was built atop a former city landfill adjacent to Oakwood Cemetery.
February 16, 2021
A single-family home in the 100 block of Stribling Avenue in the Fry’s Spring neighborhood sold for $280,000, or 15.48 percent below the 2021 assessment of $331,300. The structure was built in 1962.
A single-family home on Wayne Avenue in the Meadowbrook Heights neighborhood sold for $465,000, or 27.61 percent over the 2021 assessment. The structure was built in 1962 and is on the Albemarle County border
A single-family home in the 1200 block of Cherry Avenue sold for $230,000. That’s 20.23 percent above the 2021 assessment. The 744 square foot structure was built in 1952.
February 17, 2021
A commercial building at 1513 East High Street has been sold to a company called Fishersville Realty for $605,000. The building formerly housed the Eclipse Beauty Salon.
February 19, 2021
A corner lot in the Lochlyn Hill on Nicholson Street development was purchased by Arcadia Builders, Inc, for $152,250. The property was assessed in both 2020 and 2021 at $91,000.
A single family home in the 900 block on Stonehenge Avenue in Belmont sold for $270,000, or 25.23 percent over the 2021 assessment. The house last sold in September 1989 for $55,000.
A 1,711 square foot single-family home in the 1,000 block of Stonehenge Avenue sold for $379,000. That’s 22.26 percent over the 2021 assessment.
February 22, 2021
A three bedroom townhouse in the Rialto Beach planned unit development sold for $469,000. That was just under seven percent of the 2021 assessment. The 1,900 square foot structure was built in 2016.
A 785 square foot condo in the Walker Square development sold for $256,200. That’s 10.81 percent over the 2021 estimate.
February 23, 2021
A home on Cameron Lane in the Lewis Mountain neighborhood built in 1940 sold for $530,000. That’s roughly 16 percent over the 2021 assessment of $456,700.
February 24, 2021
A split-level home in the 700 block of Shamrock Road sold for $380,500, or 32.62 percent over the 2021 assessment.
A home in the 1100 block of 6th Street SE in Belmont sold for $245,067, or 21.3 percent below the 2021 assessment. The previous owner was Habitat for Humanity of Greater Charlottesville.
February 25, 2021
The City of Charlottesville purchased a sliver of land just north of Azalea Park for $76,000.
One half of a duplex on Little High Street sold for $295,500, or 13.68 percent over the 2021 assessment of $259,500. The seller was Neighborhood Investments LLC, a firm associated with developer Richard Spurzem. The other half will sell in late April. Stay tuned!
A pair of condominium units in Walker Square sold for $480,000. The two had a combined 2021 assessment of $428,400, which is a purchase that is 12 percent over.
New construction in the Paynes Mill Road sold for $536,160. The structure is a four bedroom, 2,525 square foot house.
A single family home on Highland Avenue that was built in 1967 sold for $439,000. That’s 10.66 percent over assessment.
February 26, 2021
Neighborhood Investments LLC purchased a duplex in the 2200 block of Jefferson Park Avenue for $515,00. The structure is back on the market with a list price of $695,000 at publication time.
A unit in the Cream Street Condominiums sold for $320,000, or 3.46 percent. The purchaser is an LLC.
A 2,147 square foot newly-built house on Paynes Mill Road sold for $553,943. The three bedroom structure was built on land that had a 2021 land value of $115,000.