Regional Housing Partnership endorses Piedmont Housing Alliance’s application to build affordable housing at two UVA sites

The Central Virginia Regional Housing Partnership is a function of the Thomas Jefferson Planning District Commission and consists of elected officials, representatives from nonprofits, and developers. Last year they developed the Planning for Affordability report intended to suggest strategies for each of the six localities to create more below-market housing opportunities. (read that plan)

On Wednesday, the group convened for one purpose. For background, the University of Virginia and its real estate foundation are offering land through a ground lease at three sites in the community for a partner to construct affordable housing. They issued a request for qualifications in June to develop sites on Fontaine Avenue and Wertland Street. (agenda packet)

There was a pre-proposal presentation on June 22 led by Fred Missel, the director of development for the UVA Foundation. In a separate capacity, Missel is also a member of the Albemarle Planning Commission. 

Wednesday’s partnership meeting was to vote on an endorsement of the Piedmont Housing Alliance’s desire to lead a large group of partners to develop the two sites.

“We have pulled together a largely local team of nonprofits and one for profit organization to come together to ideally provide a holistic housing ladder with a holistic set of viewpoints to make sure we are being responsive to the needs not just within those two sites,” said Sunshine Mathon, the executive director of the Piedmont Housing Alliance.

That for profit developer would be Riverbend Development, which has assisted the Charlottesville Redevelopment and Housing Authority with its recent redevelopment efforts. Another partner would be the Virginia Community Development Corporation and another would be 7 and M Development

An overview of the less than two acres on Wertland Street that would be included in the development (Credit: UVA Foundation)

A letter in the RHP agenda packet includes more details. 

“The development team is partnering to design, build, and operate affordable housing on both sites, with a focus on a broad array of housing opportunities, focused on rental housing for people earning 30 to 60 percent of area median income, but also including more deeply affordable rental housing, affordable homeownership opportunities, market rate housing, community amenities, and commercial space,” reads the letter.

However, many of the partnership members had to recuse themselves from the vote out of conflicts of interest. That included:

  • Dan Rosensweig of the Habitat for Humanity of Greater Charlottesville
  • Sunshine Mathon of the Piedmont Housing Alliance
  • Keith Smith of the Piedmont Community Land Trust (now part of Piedmont Housing Alliance)
  • Shelby Edwards of the Public Housing Association of Residents 
  • Anthony Haro of the Thomas Jefferson Coalition for the Homeless

Colette Sheehy is the Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer of the University of Virginia. She also abstained from the vote but is not part of the development.

“That was an impressive list of local organizations involved in this space and I was just curious if you anticipate anybody else out there locally that might propose anything?” Sheehy asked. 

Mathon said he thought there may be another group.

“I think there are probably still one or two organizations which may find their way into a different team but I’m not 100 percent sure,” Mathon said. 

Those who were able to vote to support the letter were Antwon Brinson of the Piedmont Workforce Network, Greg Powe of Powe Studio Architects, Ned Gallaway of the Albemarle Board of Supervisors, Peter Holman of the University of Virginia Credit Union, Rachel Jones of the Louisa Board of Supervisors, Charlottesville Mayor Lloyd Snook, and Kim Hyland of the Fluvanna-Louisa Housing Foundation.

“Seven yes, zero noes, and six abstentions,” said Ian Baxter, a planner with the TJPDC. 

One of those abstentions was Keith Smith, a realtor and chair of the Piedmont Community Land Trust.

“This is what this body was designed to do and this is great stuff,” Smith said. 

The application is due on August 2. Will there be any other applications? 

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 July 7, 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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