Piedmont Housing Alliance breaks ground for Friendship Court redevelopment

After years of planning, the Piedmont Housing Alliance has broken ground on the multi-phase redevelopment of Friendship Court. Phase One will be built on the open space portion of the existing 150-unit residential complex. Sunshine Mathon is the executive director of the Piedmont Housing Alliance. 

“For over 40 years, Friendship Court, also known to many as Garret Square has been home to over hundreds of families,” Mathon said. “For some, it was a short time. For others, it is all they have known. For some, it has been a place of solace and respite during difficult times. For others it has reflected the pain of broader racial and social injustices, and families caught in the unrelenting gears of generational poverty.” 

Before Friendship Court, the land had been a predominantly Black neighborhood and was razed during what’s known as the Garret Street urban renewal. Planning for what would replace Friendship Court has been underway for many years. Piedmont Housing Alliance has been involved since before Mathon joined the agency four and a half years ago. 

“When I arrived in Charlottesville I knew little of this history and as an outsider and as a white man, I have had to listen and I have had to come to learn that we cannot turn our gaze to the future to explore what’s possible whether here at Friendship Court or in the region more broadly without truly knowing the weight of the past,” Mathon said. 

A site plan for the four phases at Friendship Court has been developed by the Timmons Group, and this calls for a range between 350 to 500 units on the 11.758 acres with up to 60,000 square feet for commercial, business, or assembly space. This site plan also shows a road network that eventually will become public streets. 

The site plan for all four phases of the Friendship Court redevelopment plan.

Mathon said that work has been overseen by a committee of current residents. 

“They have participated in deep community outreach,” Mathon said. “They have chosen architects and contractors, they have taken field trips to other cities to explore what has been done elsewhere and they have worked and reworked and reworked and reworked a plan for redevelopment aimed directly at redressing root causes such as systemic inequity.” 

Charlottesville City Council has approved millions of funds in contributions to the project’s financing including a $5.5 million forgivable loan approved by Council in October 2020. (read a story from then)

“So much of what is pushed in front of our faces on City Council is five-star hotels, the University, fancy restaurants, business development, and that’s all fine enough but it’s this what makes Charlottesville a great community,” said City Councilor Michael Payne. “To have residents who are taking self-control of their future in building with our community their future.” 

You can watch the ground-breaking in a link in the newsletterVisit piedmonthousingalliance.org for more information

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Friendship Court groundbreaking

After years of planning, the Piedmont Housing Alliance has broken ground on the multi-phase redevelopment of Friendship Court. Phase One will be built on the open space portion of the existing 150-unit residential complex. Sunshine Mathon is the executive director of the Piedmont Housing Alliance. 

“For over 40 years, Friendship Court, also known to many as Garret Square has been home to over hundreds of families,” Mathon said. “For some, it was a short time. For others, it is all they have known. For some, it has been a place of solace and respite during difficult times. For others it has reflected the pain of broader racial and social injustices, and families caught in the unrelenting gears of generational poverty.” 

Before Friendship Court, the land had been a predominantly Black neighborhood and was razed during what’s known as the Garret Street urban renewal. Planning for what would replace Friendship Court has been underway for many years. Piedmont Housing Alliance has been involved since before Mathon joined the agency four and a half years ago. 

“When I arrived in Charlottesville I knew little of this history and as an outsider and as a white man, I have had to listen and I have had to come to learn that we cannot turn our gaze to the future to explore what’s possible whether here at Friendship Court or in the region more broadly without truly knowing the weight of the past,” Mathon said. 

A site plan for the four phases at Friendship Court has been developed by the Timmons Group, and this calls for a range between 350 to 500 units on the 11.758 acres with up to 60,000 square feet for commercial, business, or assembly space. This site plan also shows a road network that eventually will become public streets. 

The site plan for all four phases of the Friendship Court redevelopment plan.

Mathon said that work has been overseen by a committee of current residents. 

“They have participated in deep community outreach,” Mathon said. “They have chosen architects and contractors, they have taken field trips to other cities to explore what has been done elsewhere and they have worked and reworked and reworked and reworked a plan for redevelopment aimed directly at redressing root causes such as systemic inequity.” 

Charlottesville City Council has approved millions of funds in contributions to the project’s financing including a $5.5 million forgivable loan approved by Council in October 2020. (read a story from then)

“So much of what is pushed in front of our faces on City Council is five-star hotels, the University, fancy restaurants, business development, and that’s all fine enough but it’s this what makes Charlottesville a great community,” said City Councilor Michael Payne. “To have residents who are taking self-control of their future in building with our community their future.” 

You can watch the ground-breaking in a link in the newsletterVisit piedmonthousingalliance.org for more information


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 January 16, 2022 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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