Fifth and Avon Group Gets Update on Southwood

After years of planning, construction is well underway for the Habitat for Humanity of Greater Charlottesville’s redevelopment of the Southwood Mobile Home Park in Albemarle’s southern growth area. Land has been cleared along Old Lynchburg Road to make way for the first phase of the project.

Andrew Baxter is the director of operations for Habitat and he briefed the 5th and Avon Community Advisory Committee at their meeting on June 17, 2021. 

“Last September as you probably are aware we had the ribbon-cutting, have owned the park for a number of years, invested a great deal in basic infrastructure and safety over the years,” Baxter said. 

In August 2019, The Board of Supervisors approved a rezoning of nearly 34 acres of land from R-2 to the Neighborhood Model District, and the concept plan in the application is for up to 450 homes. 

“We’re operating now under a 2019 approved non-displacement plan,” Baxter said. “That’s our primary commitment in this redevelopment, that we will not displace current residents of the park, unless they choose to go somewhere else.”

Baxter said the idea had been not to move any existing residents in the first phase, but issues with aging septic systems on the site forced a change. 

“If you can imagine, a trailer park that was initially put in place in the 1950’s and 1960’s, about half the park is not on public sewer so that’s created some challenges,” Baxter said.  

In all, 26 mobile homes are in the process of being relocated and that work is expected to be complete in August. Baxter said Habitat is complying with the federal Uniform Relocation Act as part of those efforts. (watch a video on the URA)

“The options vary from physically moving a trailer to an empty pad in the park and the family goes with it, to moving a family to a vacant trailer that we own, to moving the trailer off property to a location that’s identified and desirable by the family, by the homeowner,” Baxter said.

The first lots to be used for new homes will be ready this fall. 

“That will allow for the construction of what we call Village 1, so Phase 1 Village 1, which will be a combination of duplexes, there’s one single-family dwelling in Village 1, and then four condo buildings that constitute twenty units total,” Baxter said. 

Baxter said the process is also underway for existing residents to apply for Habitat’s homeownership program.

“And that is an incredibly detailed, individualized process for each family that involves financial coaching, to get those folks ready if they want to be homeowners,” Baxter said. 

At the same time, the Piedmont Housing Alliance has been successful in their application for Low Income Housing Tax Credits for 70 units in what’s to be called Southwood Apartments. (2021 LIHTC rankings)

“So there’s very low rent units will be available for certain folks if they qualify as well,” Baxter said. 

A second rezoning application is also being prepared for the rest of the park’s redevelopment. 

Partners in the project so far are Faulconer Construction, Atlantic Builders, and Southern Development. Atlantic is building the condominiums and Southern Development is building the market-rate units. 

Concept included with the rezoning request from the summer of 2019

There is other construction happening nearby on Old Lynchburg Road. After Baxter was County Planner Tori Kanellopoulos gave details on site plans that are under review, such as part of the Albemarle Business Campus development for which ground has already been broken. 

“Block 5 includes a 103,500 square foot self storage building with additional retail space and restaurant that would be 3,800 square feet,” Kanellopoulos said. 

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