Places29-Hydraulic group gets first look at Greystar’s Old Ivy Residences project

A proposed rezoning requested by Greystar Development for about 36 acres of land off of Old Ivy Road will be slightly smaller than the 525 units requested in the first application, but it will still be fairly substantial. 

“Our current plan is to have about 490 units,” said Valerie Long, an attorney with Williams Mullen. “We’re still under 20 dwelling units per acre so well within the range that’s permitted. 

The Places29-Hydraulic Community Advisory Committee got a first look at the Old Ivy Residences project, which is currently not scheduled for a public hearing before the Planning Commission. (watch the meeting)

The land is split between five parcels, with three of them already zoned for 15 units per acre. 

“R-15 residential zoning allows for basically any type of residential development whether its single family detached, single-family attached, or multifamily apartments,” said county planner Cameron Langille. 

One parcel allows for ten units per acre, and the other is currently zoned for one unit per acre. 

The application is to make them all R-15. A previous rezoning approved by the Board of Supervisors in 1985 has a condition that states that the Old Ivy Road corridor needs to have been upgraded to a certain performance level before development can begin.

“The applicant is asking for us to evaluate that and make a recommendation as to whether corridor has been improved to that extent,” Langille said. 

The board also approved a rezoning in 1996 for one of the parcels that restricts certain uses. Langille said the applicant wants the Board to drop that condition. There’s also a request to disturb slopes which involves changing their classification from preserved to managed. 

The county’s Comprehensive Plan designated three of the parcels as urban density residential, which allows anywhere between 6 units and 36 units per acre. Land along the U.S. 250 Bypass is designated as parks space and currently is the home of a section of the Rivanna Trail. Greystar officials said that would continue.

There is currently no public hearing scheduled for the rezoning (Credit: Greystar Development)

Staff has conducted one review and the developer is working through the various questions from staff. 

John Clarkson is a managing director with Greystar Development, a national developer with projects all across the United States of America. 

“There are opportunities in University towns that lack housing opportunities, very important housing opportunities to provide that level of affordability to make those communities sustainable over the long term,” Clarkson said. 

Dan Nickerson, a development senior associate with Greystar, is a graduate of the nearby Darden School.

“The number one thing we love about this site is the natural landscape and we’ve done the best job we could and we think we’ve done a really good job preserving the landscape while enabling the density that the Comp Plan allows,” Nickerson said. 

Old Ivy Road is a two-lane road that has a one-way underpass near its eastern intersection with Ivy Road without a sidewalk or bike lane. The western intersection as well as a two-lane bridge over the bypass are also constraints. Long acknowledged that traffic congestion is an issue.

“Obviously those issues are existing, have been growing and increasing over the past few decades, but Greystar is committed to continue looking at those challenges and collaborating with [the Virginia Department of Transportation] and the county planning staff as appropriate to work toward identifying solutions,” Long said. 

Long said Greystar would be willing to pay a “proportional amount” for some of those solutions. 

VDOT’s Six-Year Improvement program includes funds for a $3 million replacement of the bridge over U.S. 250, but the description currently states it will be built with no additional capacity. Preliminary engineering is underway now with construction scheduled for Fiscal Year 2024. 

Long said county officials have been able to at least carve out some improvements for the project.

“They were able to include in that project design that there will be a pedestrian lane on the new bridge,” Long said. 

Members of the CAC and the public had the opportunity to ask questions and make comments. Sally Thomas served four terms on the Board of Supervisors and lives next door in the University Village apartment building. 

“We don’t oppose having neighbors and we are delighted that they are neighbors that care about the environment,” Thomas said. “We also do have a lovely old stand of trees, some over 100 years old, and we want to try to preserve and protect those.”

Thomas said University Village wants to make sure there are pathways that safe and attractive and avoid the trees. 

Kathleen Jump of Huntington Village complex said she likes to walk, but said this section of Albemarle is landlocked with many obstacles for pedestrians. 

“The eastern bridge is a concern and the pedestrians at that end of Old Ivy Road put their lives in their hands when they cross under that bridge,” Jump said.

Kevin McDermott is a chief of planning in Albemarle who specializes in transportation. 

“We have been evaluating both ends of Old Ivy Road as Valerie mentioned also, very recently, to try to see if there are options for improving them,” McDermott said. “Nothing has jumped out as an easy solution right now. Trying to expand that underpass is going to be extremely expensive.” 

McDermott said VDOT is working with a consultant to look at both ends of the road to come up with solutions, possibly to inform a Smart Scale application for next year. 

Taylor Ahlgren just moved into Huntington Village. He wants the development to do as much as it can to discourage vehicular travel. Here’s what he would like to see.

“Supporting future residents to stay away from using a car and using alternative means of transportation,” Ahlgren said. 

The project currently does not have a public meeting scheduled with the Planning Commission. Stay tuned. 

Also nearby is the Ivy Garden complex, which the University of Virginia will be redeveloped as a mixed-use community. The UVA Buildings and Grounds Committee got a briefing on that project in June. 

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 16, 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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