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.
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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.
In 2007, Habitat for Humanity of Greater Charlottesville purchased the Southwood Mobile Home Park in Albemarle County’s southern growth area for $7 million. Since then, the nonprofit agency has served as landlord of the site which currently has about 1,500 residents in 341 mobile homes. Since then, Habitat has been planning to redevelop it on a bigger scale that at the 16-unit Sunrise Trailer Court on Carlton Road. Megan Nedostup is a planner with Albemarle County.
“In 2016, the county partnered with Habitat through a Board resolution and then for fiscal year 2017 through fiscal year 2019, the Board of Supervisors included in their strategic plan initiative revitalizing urban neighborhoods,” Nedostup said.
Keeping on the transit theme, last week Charlottesville Area Transit held the second of two public input sessions on upcoming route changes. The presentation on July 21 was the same as five days earlier. This time the first question came from Jane Colony Mills, the executive of the food pantry Loaves and Fishes.
“We are located down Lambs Road at the intersection of Hydraulic and Lambs,” said Mills. “We serve probably 25 to 30 percent of Charlottesville’s population but if you don’t have a vehicle they can’t get to us.”
At the very end of Council’s July 19 meeting, City Councilor Heather Hill asked if the city would be playing any role in the plight of Greyhound, which has closed its station on West Main Street but still picks up passengers on the street.
“I just want to acknowledge to the public that we’re hearing the frustrations,” Hill said. “The most recent comment that came today was around the role our own bus station could play as a housing location for those stops.”
Council also approved the design for the $11.7 million Fontaine Avenue Streetscape, a project funded by VDOT’s Smart Scale in 2017 that is working through the long process from idea to construction. Kyle Kling is a transportation planning manager for the City of Charlottesville.
“In January of 2020, Council accepted the Planning Commission’s recommendation that this project’s conceptual design was found to be in accordance with the city’s Comprehensive Plan,” Kling said.
Charlottesville will seek additional funding to implement a plan to build a trail along Meadow Creek through the City of Charlottesville. Trails planner Chris Gensic told Council the details last week on a Transportation Alternatives grant opportunity offered by the Virginia Department of Transportation.
“The grant the parks department is pursuing is to construct a long awaited portion of an [Americans with Disabilities Act] accessible the Meadow Creek valley from the Michie Drive area up to the Virginia Institute of Autism at Greenbrier Drive and also around the corner to Greenbrier Park,” Gensic said.
The Charlottesville Planning Commission has unanimously recommended a proposal from the Charlottesville Redevelopment and Housing Authority to alter one of the conditions in a critical slopes waiver they were granted in early 2019 for the first phase of the redevelopment of South First Street. Carrie Rainey is a planner with the city of Charlottesville.
“The previously granted critical slopes waiver allows for construction and land disturbing activities within critical slopes for a development that would include 62 multifamily residential units in three buildings and a community resources center,” Rainey said.
City code defines a critical slope as one that has a grade of 25 percent or higher, and also contains either a horizontal run greater than 20 feet or is within two hundred feet of a waterway. The idea is to prevent erosion and prevent sediment from entering waterways, which kills macroinvertebrate life. The waterway Pollocks Branch is within the latter.
After construction at South First Street began, CRHA notified the city it would not be able to comply with a condition of the slopes waiver that required a phased construction so that two buildings on First Street would be built first “in order to create a better stabilized site during construction and to facilitate more effective erosion and sediment control measures.”
Charlottesville Area Transit has held the first of two public input sessions about changes to bus routes intended to boost ridership. The agency has experienced a sharp ridership decline over the past several years, and relatively new director Garland Williams has overseen some potential changes.
“It is our intention to make sure that we get feedback and make adjustments to the CAT system that [are] fruitful to everyone and make sure the system is as productive as it possibly can be,” Williams said.
The return of a rezoning application for a property in the 1200 block of Carlton Avenue got the nod from the Charlottesville Planning Commission at their meeting on July 13, 2021. The seven-member panel considered a rezoning and special use permit for a vacant lot currently zoned R-2, which would allow two units on the property.
“The requested rezoning would be to R-3, residential multifamily medium density,” said Commission Chair Hosea Mitchell. “And then the following special use permit would then allow the applicant to build eight units.”
A similar application went before Commission and the Council in 2018 and was denied by Council in October that year. As part of this application, eight parking spaces would be provided on site. Here’s Matt Alfele, a city planner.
“Residents are concerned that the code-required eight parking spaces will not be enough for this development and the overflow parking will impact the surrounding neighborhoods, especially the homes on Chestnut Street,” Alfele said.
One of several major transportation projects intended to make Charlottesville an easier place to bike or walk passed a milestone last week. In 2017, the city was awarded $8.6 million in Virginia Department of Transportation Smart Scale funds for a project at the intersection of Barracks Road and Emmet Street. The design public hearing was held on July 7, 2021.
“The purpose of the project is to improve the operational performance of the Barracks Road and Emmet Street intersection while also enhancing bicycle, pedestrian and transit facilities serving the adjacent neighborhoods,” said the narrator of a presentation shown at the virtual meeting. (watch the full presentation)
The work will include a new northbound right-turn lane on Emmet Street, an additional west-bound left-hand turn lane on Barracks Road, upgraded traffic signals, increased medians, and a shared-use path up Barracks Road. Part of the work will involve something called a “pedestrian refuge” to allow slower walkers to cross Emmet Street and take a break.
“The scope of bicycle and pedestrian improvements on Barracks Road were less somewhat less defined which provided an opportunity to involve local citizens in the early planning and decision-making process,” the presentation continued.
One man expressed concern that this plan seemed to have come from nowhere and that it may not actually work.
“This has been a long time question for me about Charlottesville and planning and development,” said Joel Bass. “How do we actually develop in this town without working with [the University of Virginia] and getting feedback from them on their plans?”
Bass said what was needed from westbound Barracks Road was a right-hand lane.
Before we hear from city staff, some background. In 1986, Albemarle, Charlottesville and UVA signed a Three Party Agreement and until 2019 there was a public body known as the Planning and Coordination Council (PACC) where projects and planning were discussed in the open. Since late 2019, a private body called the Land Use and Environmental Planning Committee meets and those events are closed to the public. This LUEPC group last met on June 25, 2021 and there is one page of minutes. (read those minutes)
Back to the Barracks/Emmet project. There is a steering committee that includes a member of the UVA Office of the Architect and those meetings are open to the public. Kyle Kling in Charlottesville’s public works department.
“In our department, we meet quarterly with the University to discuss projects the city is administering as well as projects that the University has throughout their Grounds and during those conversations we always discuss how things will trend during the future and how projects may supplement each other so that coordination is ongoing,” Kling said.
Two other Smart Scale projects are in the planning states to the south on Emmet Street. The Emmet Street Streetscape had its design public hearing in December 2019. The Commonwealth Transportation Board just approved $20.6 million in funding for a second phase of that project that would span between Arlington Boulevard and Barracks Road.
There was some concern at the public hearing about the shared-use path that will travel about a third of a mile up the hill on Barracks Road to Buckingham and Hill Top roads. Gregory Kastner was appreciative to get a dedicated facility, but had a question about how that fits into a larger network.
“As you’re on the bike lane coming up the road, how does that transition to the current sidewalk?” Kastner asked. “With it ending at Hill Top, there’s still a fair bit of up to go where the rider is going to be going pretty slow and it really wouldn’t be a great place to get dumped out on the road.”
Kastner said he hoped the scope of the project extended up to Rugby Road where the hill flattens.
Kling said in the short-term, a sharrow would be painted on the road in the short-term as VDOT has strict rules about extending Smart Scale projects past the boundaries outlined in their initial application.
“I do know that there are some plans in the works on the city’s end to kind of continue bike and pedestrian upgrades further into town along this stretch,” Kling said.
About another two-thirds of a mile up Barracks Road is another Smart Scale project to address the intersection of Preston Avenue and Grady Avenue. That project has also not yet begun.
Next steps for the project include final approval by City Council this summer and completion of the design in the winter of 2022. If all goes according to schedule, construction would begin in the spring of 2023.