UVa making plans for Ivy Garden redevelopment

(This installment was originally posted in the June 9, 2021 edition of Charlottesville Community Engagement)

The University of Virginia’s Board of Visitors met earlier this month. One of the items on the Building and Grounds Committee’s agenda was approval of a master plan for the redevelopment of Ivy Gardens, an apartment complex between Old Ivy Road and Leonard Sandridge Road that was built in the late 1960’s. 

University Architect Alice Raucher explained the purpose of creating a master plan. 

“It is in general always good to have a plan and physical master planning helps to set priorities to inform future plans,” Raucher said. “It often aligns limited physical resources with often equally limited financial resources and provides the opportunity for broad University and community engagement to create a shared vision.” 

Ivy Gardens is made up of 17 acres and has 440 residential units close to North Grounds, Darden, the School of Law, and the Miller Center for Public Affairs, and the Center for Politics. 

“In 2016, at the direction of the University, the Foundation purchased Ivy Gardens and although its structures are aging, the property is currently income producing with units that primarily house our graduate students in a low-density, automobile-oriented development,” Raucher said. 

The proposed redevelopment plan would increase the number of units to 718 and would add about 46,000 square feet of academic space and 69,500 square feet for commercial uses. The latter would be clustered in a new Town Square that would front onto Old Ivy Road. To the immediate north would be a Residential Commons with different kinds of housing types. In the middle would be a Central Green. A pedestrian bridge would cross Leonard Sandridge Drive, allowing safe passage to Darden and the Law School. 

Source: University of Virginia Office of the Architect

The project would be phased.

“The success of this proposal does not depend on wholesale redevelopment,” Raucher said. 

For more on the timing, let’s hear a question from Robert Hardie, the chair of the Buildings and Grounds Committee.

“From a density standpoint are you satisfied that, obviously greenspaces are wonderful and we need those, but we also need to provide enough housing for this area, for what’s going to a growing law school and a growing Darden School and other programs around that area,” Hardie said. “And secondly, can you give us a little about the time frame and how long this will take to come to fruition? Obviously it will be done in phases, but when we might see this start and when it might be complete?” 

“Yes, Mr. Hardie, the density on this site is improved by 150 percent so we have not only the 440 units that currently are there but there’s an additional 250 or thereabouts,” Raucher said. 

The Architect added that what was before the committee was a master plan, and not a schematic design for imminent building construction. She also said there’s no capital project yet associated with the area. 

President Jim Ryan said the University has many projects it would like to work on.

“Increasing the supply of housing for second-year students remains a top priority,” Ryan said. 

The committee voted on a resolution to approve the master plan.  Afterwards, the group was given an update on plans to remove the George Rogers Clark statue on West Main Street.

“We are ready to move in to phase one of that work which is the removal of the statue,” said Colette Sheehy, senior vice president for operations and state government relations at UVA. “We’re prepared to an issue a [request for proposals] this month to a firm that would remove the statue and relocate it and store it.” 

Sheehy said the cost to do the work will be around $400,000 and the work should be complete this summer. The second phase will be to  engage with the indigenous community about what should be featured at the site in the future.  (download the B&G presentation)

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