Charlottesville City Council has voted to rezone nearly 12 acres of land in the Fry’s Spring neighborhood in order for Southern Development to build 170 units. They also voted for the first time on a proposal that would tie a specific infrastructure project to increased revenues that will be generated by higher property taxes.
“This is going to allow us to get infrastructure that we need in that part of the city that we would not have otherwise done,” said Councilor Brian Pinkston.
Approval came at the April 18, 2022 meeting.
Last year, the City Planning Commission recommended approval of the rezoning but only if Stribling Avenue would be upgraded as part of the development.
Southern Development agreed to loan the city $2.9 million to pay for sidewalks and drainage on Stribling Avenue. Interim City Manager Michael C. Rogers recommended against the agreement as it was written at Council’s first reading on March 21.
“We did have discussions with the developer, [Charlie] Armstrong, and we did come to agreement, a funding agreement,” Rogers said
The amended agreement would keep the loan at $2.9 million. The idea has always been that Southern Development would be paid back through the tax revenue generated by higher assessments based on the new development. The initial agreement would have given Southern Development 100 percent of the new tax revenue, but that would have been against the city’s policy to allocate a percentage of new real estate tax funds towards education.
“We negotiated that it would be 60 / 40 and 60 percent would go to repay the loan,” Rogers said. “And we agreed for that arrangement, it would be a longer financing agreement.”
The city will also allocate $1.3 million funding in the Capital Improvement Program for the project as well to cover the costs and possible overruns.
“And from discussions with the engineer, that should be enough to cover the project,” Rogers said.
Armstrong said the $2.9 million will be available to the city shortly.
“The agreement stipulates that we would have those funds available and drawable by the city before we can pull a land disturbing permit,” Armstrong said.
City engineer Jack Dawson said he did not have a timeline when the roadway would be upgraded, but said planning work on Stribling would commence on July 1 if not before.
“Which means finding a consultant, doing the planning, community outreach, all of the things that go into development of a project of this size,” Dawson said.
Charlottesville Mayor Lloyd Snook was persuaded to proceed.
“If the neighbors’ concern is that somehow the developer is going to withhold the construction of the community assets until everything else is done, that’s not going to be happening,” Snook said.
Armstrong said he is hoping to be under construction within 12 to 18 months. The project will be constructed in 20 phases.
Snook said the intersection of Stribling and Jefferson Park Avenue Extended also needs to be improved.
“That’s the kind of thing it strikes me as a manageable problem and one that we can continue to work toward for solutions,” Snook said. “It doesn’t seem to me to be an insurmountable problem.”
Deputy City Manager Sam Sanders said Council would get an update in the future on how Stribling would be maintained at a time when construction of both 240 Stribling and the upgrade to the street are underway.
“We will bring back to you more details on how we will manage this project unlike maybe how we’ve done other projects in the past because this one is such a significantly complicated and somewhat controversial project,” Sanders said.
Councilor Michael Payne said the city should be able to better analyze how much economic value a developer gets for lots that are rezoned.
“So that we can understand our position vis-a-vis the developer in a situation like this when we are in a way going to be informally negotiating,” Payne said. “I will say I don’t think that we were perhaps were careful in our analysis in setting ourselves up for this.”
Payne voted in favor of the rezoning and the agreement, which passed unanimously.
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 April 28, 2022 edition of the program. To ensure this research can be sustained, please consider becoming a paid subscriber or contributing monthly through Patreon.