Southern Development agrees to contribute $900K more to Stribling sidewalk, PC recommends rezoning approval

A rezoning of 12 wooded acres in Charlottesville’s Fry’s Spring neighborhood moved one step closer to approval last night. The seven-member Planning Commission recommended approval of a project that goes by the name 240 Stribling that would see 170 units. 

On September 14, the developer asked for a deferral of a decision following a public hearing. City Planner Matt Alfele has this recap.

“During the public hearing, the Planning Commission heard from 16 members of the public,” Alfele said. “Most speakers raised concern about the safety of Stribling Avenue and how additional dwelling units on the subject property would be detrimental to public safety.” 

A Fry’s Spring resident submitted this photo to the city to demonstrate existing conditions on Stribling Avenue (page 197 of the 9/14/21 packet)

At that meeting, Southern Development’s vice president and the city’s Economic Development director discussed the details of an agreement in which Southern Development had agreed to pay up to $2 million for sidewalk improvements. City Engineer Jack Dawson said that figure was too low to cover the cost, and in October, he told Council his estimate would top out at $2.85 million. (Council Balks At $850k Cost For Stribling Sidewalks

“As I stated to Council, it’s not a complete estimate, it’s just an improved upon estimate but it is likely to be higher than that would be my guess,” Dawson said last night. 

The city’s Capital Improvement Plan budget is at capacity with expectations of spending millions a year on affordable housing projects as well as tens of millions over the next five years for reconfiguration of the city’s elementary and middle schools. 

Southern Development has agreed to increase their upfront funding to $2.9 million. 

“Though we feel that this work can be completed for significantly less, we do think it is important enough that we want to make sure our amount jibes with the city engineer’s estimate,” said Charlie Armstrong, vice president at Southern Development. 

“We want to get those sidewalks built,” he added. “We want to provide the funding so that it could be put into the [capital improvement program].”

Armstrong said Southern Development is ready to move on the sidewalk project and his team has worked on a survey of the corridor. So has the city engineer. 

“There are some differences but I think we have a pretty good idea of a basic what would be needed,” Armstrong said. “There’s a lot of details in the detailed engineering that will come later.”

Southern Development will be paid back by getting the incremental difference between the current value of the land and what it will be like after the units are built.

“Our development obviously significantly increases the value of the real estate at 240 Stribling so the taxes go up,” Armstrong said. “And we’re not talking about just a little bit. They go up a lot. In twenty years, this produces, conservatively, eight and a half million dollars of new tax revenue. And that’s after paying for the sidewalks.” 

Armstrong said 25 units would be designated as affordable with rents or sale prices held below market for households with incomes below 60 percent of the area median income. Next up will be a vote by the City Council. The Planning Commission will have a work session on the next Capital Improvement Program budget on November 23. 

Before you go: The time to write and research of this article is covered by paid subscribers to Charlottesville Community Engagement. In fact, this particular installment comes from the November 10, 2021 edition of the program. To ensure this research can be sustained, please consider becoming a paid subscriber or contributing monthly through Patreon.

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