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.
In 2018, the Board agreed to contribute $675,000 to assist Habitat prepare its rezoning application for the first phase. In 2019, Habitat, the Board of Supervisors, and Albemarle Economic Development Authority entered into a performance agreement through which Albemarle would provide up to $1.8 million to help fund construction of affordable housing as well as $1.4 million in property tax rebates. Supervisors approved the first rezoning from R-2 to Neighborhood Model Development that year as well. (performance agreement)
“Four hundred and fifty maximum units were approved in this phase one,” Nedostup said. “The units included a mixture of residential townhomes, multifamily, single family, duplexes and a maximum of 50,000 square feet of non-residential was permitted under the code of development.”
Construction of several blocks is underway and at various stages of the review process. Some of the first units to go through the site plan are the ones being constructed by Piedmont Housing Alliance using Low Income Housing Tax Credits in Blocks 11 and 12. In all, Piedmont Housing is seeking to build 121 rental units in Southwood Apartments.
Blocks nine, 10, and the rest of 11 are mostly market-rate townhomes on the future New Horizon Drive to be built by Atlantic Builders
“There are 16 affordable townhomes,” Nedostup said.
Village One consists of Blocks 5, 6, and 8, with parts of Blocks 3 and 4. There are a wide range of unit types in this area. An illustrative plan depicts what developer is building what units and where. In all, 287 units are planned so far, with planning to get underway on Village 2 in the future.
Dan Rosensweig is the chief executive officer at Habitat for Humanity of Greater Charlottesville.
“We all know that you took a bit of a leap of faith with us when you recommended approval about two years ago,” Rosensweig said. “This is something a little bit different in that it was organized as a block plan which created a framework, a regulatory framework, which created flexibility for cohorts of residents to design the various moments within the new development.”
Rosensweig took the Planning Commission on a video fly-through of these sections, which you can watch as part of the YouTube video. That’s also the best way to get a full sense of where the project is at the moment. (watch)
One small detail, the first floors of each of the buildings that make up Southwood Apartments will be 12 feet high, which Rosensweig said will allow them to serve as commercial at some point in the life cycle of those buildings. Here’s another detail about the architecture of some of the residential units in Village One.
“One of the things that’s very important to us at Habitat and I know that it was important to you all in the rezoning process is that you can’t tell Habitat units from market-rate units so on every block there is a mixture of Habitat homes and market rate homes and we’ve coordinated with the market-rate builders to make sure our architecture matches up,” Rosensweig said.
Rosensweig said that during the rezoning, Habitat agreed to make 15 percent of the housing in the first phase below-market through various interventions to bring down the cost to future residents.
“So that would have been 50 of the 335 total units,” Rosensweig said. “We ended up 207 affordable units out of the 335 or 62 percent. That breakdown is about 80 Habitat units for purchase, six Habitat units for rent, and that will toggle a little bit. Some of the families may rent originally and then purchase the ones that they are renting.”
Piedmont Housing Alliance is building the rest of the subsidized units.
The original plan had been to not move any of the mobile homes during the first phase, but 25 units have had to be moved.
“In the initial phase, we had hoped not to move anybody at all,” Rosensweigh said. “That’s why we developed greenfields at first. We thought we might have to move a few. We’ve had to move a few more than we thought but none of them off-site. Out of an abundance of caution, we’re working with 25 families that are adjacent to the first construction zone that were a little too close for comfort.”
So far, eleven of the 25 trailers have been moved to other sections of the park and others should be moved by September. Rosensweig said Habitat has accumulated many trailers in its 14 years operating the site and was able to provide those in situations where the original structure could not be moved.
As for construction of new units, Habitat’s Chief Construction Officer said the first lots will be turned over to developers sometime this fall. Here’s Andrew Vinisky.
“We anticipate our first five Habitat homes and likely the first four market rate homes to be delivered some time next summer,” Vinisky said.
Work is underway now on the phasing for the rest of the Sunrise development. Attorney Lori Schweller of the firm Williams Mullen said staff has made a recommendation on how to proceed.
“We have been working closely with staff to plan for submittal of phase two and have been advised that an amendment to the existing zoning makes the most sense so we are preparing our concept plan and new code of development and hope to submit that in the fall,” Schweller said.
Commissioner Karen Firehock had several questions related to affordability.
“What percent or total number of the original units that you showed us a couple of years ago were supposed to be occupied by South residents?” Firehock asked. “How many are currently committed to existing residents? I’m trying to understand your success rate.”
“It’s actually going pretty well,” Rosensweig said. “We essentially canvassed the neighborhood and if you recall we’ve had numerous families who have been working toward this for a while so our first application process took place in the spring and we had 25 families step forward. Remember there are 49 homes in the first village, but they’re not all going to get built next year. There’s about 20 to 25 that are going to be get built every year so that was about the right number of families we needed to fill up the first buildings that we’re building.”
Rosensweig said the second application process will begin in August, and he expects all 86 Habitat units in the first phase to be occupied by current Southwood families.
“We can’t force anybody to stay in the neighborhood and so there will be some families who leave and we’re working one on one on a strategy with all of them,” Rosenweig said.
Rosensweig did not have a break down on the annual income for the first cohort of families, Southwood, but said the average AMI for a Habitat family is 32 percent of the area median.
Commissioner Tim Keller went back to the 1,500 people who are believed to be living at Southwood currently. He said with just over 200 affordable units in the first phase so far, that might not be be enough to accommodate all current residents who might want to live there.
“I’m concerned at least that what we’ve seen so far, that there could actually be a net loss [of affordable housing],” Keller said.
Rosensweig said that there is more of Southwood to be developed.
“This is phase one so this is 30 acres out of 123 so there are 207 affordable homes on roughly a fifth of the site,” Rosensweig said. “There is an area four to five times the size of what Phase One is that will accommodate more affordable housing so when we come back for the second phase of rezoning, that’s where the additional density of affordable housing and market rate housing wll be.”
Keller said the numbers of affordable units often appear to be in flux.
“It seems like each time we have these discussions we’re told there are going to be answers in the future and I just can’t believe you be doing this without having those kind of projections,” Keller said.
Commission Chair Julian Bivins noticed that all of the affordable rental units appeared to be clustered, with the 120+ rentals built by Piedmont Housing Alliance in Block 12 and many of the Habitat clustered in the middle of village one.
“And I’m sort of seeing all of the affordable housing units grouped together which means that people will sort of co-locate,” Bivins said. “When you bring this back for the second time, that will be one of the things I’m going to key off of.”
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.
Whenever a plan becomes known for what will happen to the Confederate Statues in two Charlottesville parks, funding will be in place to cover at least some of the costs. Charlottesville City Council took action this morning at a special meeting on a resolution to allocate $1 million to the effort, which would be a legal action given a ruling this spring by the Virginia Supreme Court that the two statues are not protected war memorials. Council voted on June 7 on a resolution to ask groups if they had interest in taking ownership. (read the resolution)
“The 30 day window for considering statue relocation is coming to a close very shortly so we wanted to be able to have funding in place to take care of that,” Boyles said.
So far, there have been eight inquiries from entities interested in taking on the statues.
The resolution voted on by Council today also covered the Lewis, Clark and Sacagawea statue on West Main Street.
“This is just putting funding in place so that we can either remove, store, or cover any or all of the three statues,” Boyles said.