November 2022 property transactions: Many questions remain one year after Charlottesville’s new Comprehensive Plan is adopted

Welcome to another anecdotal look at what is happening in the real estate market in Charlottesville. I’m coming up on two years of producing this transaction by transaction account as a way of keeping a close eye on what’s happening within city limits. Up until this point I’ve not automated this process and the goal is not to identify trends or make any claims. 

But I am here to ask questions to inform future stories as I continue to try to understand a community that has been changing as long as I’ve lived in it. I have this sense there has been an acceleration in the past few years as some players in the market know the rules much, much better than those of who don’t even know we’re in the game. 

I’ve written about land use in Charlottesville for a while and I am humbled by all I do not know. I have a lot to learn and try to be careful to not overstep my knowledge. I do this work to make my living, but I am not and never will be a developer. 

For the past two years, these summaries have been the one major item that goes to paid subscribers first. I’m going to continue that in 2023 and try to add other material as I continue to develop Town Crier Productions into a sustainable business. If you don’t want to pay, you can wait a few days and this post will be on Information Charlottesville with all 22 other editions published so far.

Here are some items to keep in mind as you read through this one:

  • Charlottesville City Council adopted an Affordable Housing Plan in March 2021 (read the document).  
  • Council originally adopted a new Comprehensive Plan in November 2021 and got sued a month later. Three of the four counts in that argument were thrown out of court in August, but a hearing on the fourth is now moot. The plaintiffs had argued the public notice was inadequate, so the plan is in the process of being readopted. 
  • The zoning rewrite that is underway will radically change the way structures will be permitted to be built in Charlottesville. I’ve not written fully about the details yet, but the new Comprehensive Plan designation for each property grants landowners new development rights that did not exist before. The general goal is to eliminate City Council, the Planning Commission, neighborhood associations, and the general public from decisions about where things are built and at what density level. This could have the effect of decoupling the land use process from the process of determining whether adequate infrastructure is in place first. 
  • In recent months, I have begun looking up deeds if transactions are drastically below the market rate. In many cases, these are foreclosures of residential properties sold at public auction. I want to begin publicizing those so more people know of them in advance. 
  • I disclaim I am a property owner in Charlottesville and it is my biggest investment. I am motivated to do this work out of a deep concern that many people do not understand the changes or the ramifications of recent policy. I don’t have any answers except to do what I can to educate the public.
  • Any errors are unintentional and shall be corrected as soon as I am made aware of them. Please send feedback. 

November 1, 2022

  • A 958 square foot commercial space in the Holsinger building on Water Street in downtown Charlottesville sold for $225,000 to Hana LLC. That’s 7.33 percent below the 2022 assessment of $242,800. 
  • A four bedroom house on Douglas Avenue in the Belmont neighborhood sold for $1.026 million. That’s 34.21 percent over the 2022 assessment of $764,500. A series of renovations were made in 2017 and a rooftop solar installation was put in this year. (General Residential, 0.25 acres)
This is an image of the Holsinger building on Water Street that was constructed in 2006 (Credit: City of Charlottesville GIS)

November 2, 2022

  • A three bedroom townhouse in the Ridgecrest complex in the Belmont-Carlton neighborhood sold for $278,500. That’s 16.92 percent over the 2022 assessment of $238,200. This unit was built in 2001. (Medium Intensity Residential, 0.04 acres)

November 3, 2022

  • A pair of houses on two separate parcels on Monticello Road that sold on September 12 to Hauscraft for $428,000 sold again as a pair but for a higher price. Haus Plus LLC purchased both 1601 and 1607 for $520,345, which is 19.15 percent over the 2022 combined assessment of $436,700. Since then, developer Nicole Scro has applied for a subdivision at 1601 Monticello Road which is 0.154 acres. 1607 Monticello is 0.299 acres. (Medium Intensity Residential, 0.453 acres combined)
  • A three bedroom house on Huntley Avenue in the Fry’s Spring neighborhood sold for $580,000. That’s 11.32 percent over the 2022 assessment of $521,000. (General Residential, 0.07 acres)
1607 Monticello Road (Credit: City of Charlottesville GIS)

November 4, 2022

  • An apartment building on River Road in the Locust Grove neighborhood now known as The Hudson sold for an even $15 million to an entity known as Farmville, LLC. That’s 55.46 percent over the 2022 assessment of $9,648,800. The property is 1.439 acres. In 2021, the property had an assessment of nearly $1.42 million while under construction. The building is now a mix of one and two bedroom units. Rents are not published on the website. Do you or anyone you know live there? (Neighborhood Mixed Use Node, 1.439 acres)
  • A four bedroom house on Paton Street built in 1980 in the Fifeville neighborhood sold for $372,500. That’s 20.9 percent over the 2022 assessment of $308,100. (General Residential, 0.168 acres)
Do you or anyone you know live at the Hudson? How do you or the people you know get around the community? (Credit: Charlottesville GIS)

November 7, 2022

  • A three bedroom house on Charlton Avenue built in 1971 in the Rose Hill neighborhood sold for $210,000. That’s 13.7 percent over the 2022 assessment of $184,700. (General Residential – Sensitive Communities, 0.144 acres)
  • A two bedroom apartment at 218 West Water Street sold for $1.565 million. That’s 65.64 percent over the 2022 assessment of $944,800. A certificate of occupancy was issued on December 7, 2022 after it was applied for on October 7, 2022. (Downtown Core, N/A)
  • A three bedroom unit on one half of a duplex in the 800 block of Prospect Avenue sold for $240,000, or or 37.22 percent over the 2022 assessment of $174,900. Properties here have begun to sell at higher levels. Recall that on July 15, another half of a duplex sold for $251,000 which was 41.49 percent over the 2022 assessment. What will these two transactions do overall property assessments in what is currently an affordable neighborhood?

    The Affordable Housing Plan adopted in March 2021 has a lot of rhetoric about stopping displacement, but what power does the city government have to stop properties trading at market value? Suggested solutions include rent control which would take action in the General Assembly. Another is for the city to purchase houses, a tactic the Charlottesville Redevelopment Housing Authority has taken by purchasing three structures this year for a cost of $1.03 million.

    Perhaps those who advocate for affordable housing can take some comfort from a May 4 sale of a property in the 700 block of Prospect that was 23.9 percent below the assessed price of $177,400. Or Piedmont Housing Alliance’s purchase of other houses in the neighborhood this year. (General Residential – Sensitive Communities, 0.104 acres) 
  • A three bedroom house built in 2013 on Christa Court in the Fry’s Spring neighborhood sold for $568,000. That’s 16.23 percent over the 2022 assessment of $488,700. (General Residential, 0.143 acres)

November 9, 2022

  • One half of a duplex on Locust Lane Court in the Locust Grove neighborhood sold for $320,000. This transaction demonstrates the jump in assessments between 2021 and 2022. The assessor’s office valued the 0.106 acre property and the structure at $254,800 in 2021 and $300,900 in 2022. That’s a 25.59 percent increase and then a 6.35 percent increase respectively. (General Residential, 0.106 acres)

November 10, 2022

  • A four bedroom house built in 1952 on Rosser Lane in the Venable neighborhood sold for $1,212,325. That’s 65.1 percent over the 2022 assessment of $734,300. (General Residential, 0.55 acres)
  • An entity called Monticello Baudelaire LLC picked up two units on the 9th floor of the Monticello Hotel at 500 Court Square.
    • 901 Court Square is a 639 square foot apartment with one bedroom that sold for $250,000, which is 19.64 percent below the 2022 assessment of $311,100. 
    • 902 Court Square is an 877 square foot apartment with two bedrooms that sold for $347,500. That’s 13.38 percent below the 2022 assessment of $401,200. (Downtown Core, N/A)
  • An entity called Salvaged Assets LLC was the winner of an auction for a property in the 800 block of Ridge Street with their bid of $122,000. That’s 33.48 percent below the 2022 assessment of $183,400. This is to settle a case against the estate of the late Alice Smith for delinquent taxes. What does the Affordable Housing Plan say about ensuring there is enough notification and notice of these auctions to ensure they may remain under Black ownership? There is a suggestion that the city of Charlottesville should set up a program to help vulnerable homeowners. Has any progress been made yet toward that goal? (General Residential – Sensitive Communities, 0.126 acres)
  • A three bedroom house in the 1100 block of Forest Hills Avenue sold for $370,000. That’s 18.48 percent of the 2022 assessment of $312,300. (General Residential, 0.26 acres)
  • A four bedroom house on Watson Avenue in the Locust Grove neighborhood sold for $745,000. That’s 11.14 percent over the 2022 assessment of $670,300. (Medium Intensity Residential, 0.354 acres) 
What will Salvaged Assets LLC do with this property on Ridge Street? (Credit: City of Charlottesville GIS)

November 14, 2022

  • An entity associated with the Jefferson Scholars Foundation has spent $4.3 million to buy six properties near Scott Stadium that had been planned for construction of a 64 unit apartment complex on 1.59 acres. Maury Holdings LLC paid 253.8 percent over the 2022 assessment to buy the properties, five of which are undeveloped. A historic structure built in 1911 is on the fifth. Read more on Information Charlottesville
The existing structure at 209 Maury Avenue as captured by the City of Charlottesville

November 15, 2022

  • A two bedroom house on 12th Street NW in the Venable neighborhood sold for $381,000. That’s 56.79 percent over the 2022 assessment of $243,000. This property was last sold on February 4 to LBQ Properties for $200,000, which was 17.8 percent below the 2022 assessment. A search of the city’s building permits does not turn up any activity, but realtor.com states “home has undergone an extensive renovation to include new windows, new duct work, a fully finished basement and an additional bathroom.” What does the Affordable Housing Plan say about this transaction and the many like it that happen each year? (General Residential – Sensitive Communities, 0.12 acres)
  • A 496 square foot one-bedroom apartment in the Monticello Overlook building sold for $150,000. That’s 20.1 percent over the 2022 assessment of $124,900. (High Intensity Residential, N/A)
  • A three bedroom house on Leigh Place in the Ridge Street neighborhood sold for $236,298. That’s 18.52 percent below the 2022 assessment of $290,000. This is the result of a foreclosure auction on October 19 and the new owner is Longbridge Financial LLC. (General Residential, 0.178 acres)
  • Fifth & Ridge LLC took three lots purchased by Daddy Rabbit in April on 5th Street SW for $145,000, the same price as earlier this year. The three lots are zoned R-1S and have a collective size of 0.354 acres and a collective assessment of $208,200. The transaction is 30.36 percent below the 2022 assessment. A house on the property was demolished in 2006. What will be built there, and who will it be for? (Medium Intensity Residential, 0.354 acres)
  • One half of a duplex on Orangedale Avenue in the Fifeville neighborhood sold for $199,500. That’s 43.01 percent over the 2021 assessment of $139,500 and 14.85 percent over the 2022 assessment of $173,700. (General Residential, 0.083 acres)
  • A four bedroom house on Monte Vista Avenue in the Fry’s Spring neighborhood sold for $549,000. That’s 20.26 percent over the 2022 assessment of $456,500. (General Residential, 0.172 acres)
  • An apartment building with nine units next to Bond House on Valley Road in the Jefferson Park Avenue neighborhood sold for $805,000. That’s 45.44 percent over the 2022 assessment of $553,500. The purchaser is AVP Valley Road LLC. (Medium Intensity Residential, 0.23 acres)
This property is a tenth of a mile from a development project on Valley Road Extended approved for 28 units on two-thirds of an acre. Might this purchase help facilitate the eventual location of a tunnel underneath the railroad embankment identified in the city’s Bike and Pedestrian Master Plan? If not, should the plan be updated to remove the project from the plan? What is the purpose of planning? (Credit: City of Charlottesville)

November 16, 2022

  • A 564 square foot one bedroom unit in the apartment complex at 1800 Jefferson Park Avenue sold for $155,000. That’s 23.02 percent over the 2022 assessment of $126,000. The purchaser is KTH Properties. (Urban Mixed Use Corridor, N/A)
  • A two bedroom unit in the apartment building at 202 Douglas Avenue, Suite 3E, sold for $773,339. That’s 24.19 percent over the 2022 assessment of $622,700. The property was assessed at $461,600 in 2021. (High Intensity Residential, N/A)
  • An apartment complex on Fontaine Avenue with six bedrooms sold for $405,000. That’s 28.94 percent over the 2021 assessment of $314,100 and 3.53 percent over the 2022 assessment of $391,200. (Neighborhood Urban Mixed Corridor, 0.173 acres)
  • A three bedroom house in the 900 block of Locust Avenue in the Locust Grove neighborhood sold for $516,000. That’s 18.68 percent over the 2021 assessment of $434,800 and 2.79 percent of $502,000. (Medium Intensity Residential, 0.507 acres)

November 17, 2022

  • A three bedroom house on Nicholson Street in the Lochlyn Hill development sold for $735,000, which is 10.99 percent over the 2022 assessment of $662,200. The new owners are the second purchasers since it was constructed last year. The previous sales price was $667,000 last August before there had been an official assessment. (General Residential, 0.097 acres)
  • Arcadia Builders built the home above. They also purchased a lot on Bennett Street in the Lochlyn Hill development for $158,760. That’s 0.78 percent below the 2022 assessment of $160,000. (General Residential, 0.05 acres)
  • A three bedroom townhouse on Hartford Court in the Ridgecrest development sold for $299,900. That’s 25.48 percent over the 2022 assessment of $239,000. (Medium Intensity Residential, 0.07 acres)
  • A two bedroom apartment with 2,106 square feet of space in the McGuffey Hill condominiums in North Downtown sold for $670,000. That’s 15.5 percent over the 2022 assessment of $580,100. (Downtown Core, N/A)

November 18, 2022

  • A four bedroom house on Edgewood Lane in the Venable neighborhood sold for $1.1 million. That’s 17.38 percent over the 2022 assessment of $937,100. (General Residential, 0.209 acres)
  • Woodard Properties continues to make major purchases along Cherry Avenue with the $150,000 acquisition of a 0.253 acre vacant lot in the 800 block. This year the company also purchased the former IGA property across from Tonsler Park for $3.5 millionLast April, the company bought the Cherry Avenue Shopping Center and five vacant properties behind it for $3.1 million as well as two vacant lots at 801 Cherry Avenue for $1.55 million. The company also owns much of the land between 7 ½ Street and 5th Street Extended. What are their plans? How will they proceed in the coming era with no rezonings or special use permits? (Neighborhood Mixed Use Corridor, 0.253 acres)
  • A four bedroom home on Dublin Road in the Johnson Village neighborhood sold for $500,000. That’s 29.17 percent over the 2022 assessment of $387,100. (General Residential, 0.334 acres)
  • A two bedroom house on the Fry’s Spring section of Center Avenue sold for $285,000. That’s 13.77 percent below the 2022 assessment of $330,500. (General Residential, 0.23 acres)
  • A four bedroom house in the 600 block of Elliott Avenue in the Belmont neighborhood sold for $425,000. That’s 14.68 percent over the 2022 assessment of $370,600. (Medium Intensity Residential, 0.139 acres)

November 22, 2022

  • First Chair Investments bought a pair of properties on Westerly Avenue in the Jefferson Park Avenue neighborhood in two separate instructions. The first at 115 Westerly Avenue. This transaction is 17.81 percent over the 2021 assessment of $318,300 and 4.36 percent below the 2022 assessment of $392,100. The existing structure is an apartment building with five bedrooms. (Medium Intensity Residential, 0.429 acres)

    The second is next door at 113 Westerly Avenue. The existing structure has four bedrooms. The sales price of $355,000 is 21.47 percent over the 2021 assessment of $291,600 and 0.78 percent over the 2022 assessment of $357,800. (Medium Intensity Residential, 0.379 acres)

    I have no knowledge of what will happen here but a process question. How many units could this yield? Eight for each lot? What if the two parcels are combined and the developer wants more? How will the process work in the future, and will the public have any say at all? How will people know? Would our elected officials even know? How would the school system know how many potential students they’d need to accommodate? 
  • A four bedroom on Broad Avenue in the Fry’s Spring neighborhood sold for $339,500. That’s 14.62 percent over the 2021 assessment of $296,200 and 2.85 percent over the 2022 assessment of $330,100. (General Residential, 0.23 acres)

November 23, 2022

  • A new house with four bedrooms built on Lochlyn Hill Drive sold for $904,149. (General Residential, 0.148 acres)
  • A three bedroom house on Hilltop Road in the Barracks / Rugby neighborhood sold for $950,000. That’s 21.36 percent over the 2022 assessment of $782,800. (General Residential, 0.64 acres)

November 29, 2022

  • A three bedroom house in the 900 block of Rives Street sold for $425,000. That’s 64.6 percent over the 2021 assessment of $258,200 and 8.72 percent over the 2022 assessment of $390,900. The previous owner bought the house in September 2018 for $257,000 and upgraded the plumbing, added another bedroom, and rewired the plumbing. (General Residential, 0.237 acres) 
  • It took Daddy Rabbit LLC a year to renovate and flip a home purchased in one of Charlottesville’s “Sensitive Communities” on Charlton Avenue in the Rose Hill neighborhood. 

    The LLC purchased the home for $160,000 on November 15, 2021 from a relative of the late Minnie Gardener. According to her obituary, Gardener was a Black woman who died on April 30, 2021 at the age of 99. She and her husband Thomas bought the house in 1950. The sale of her house was 9.36 percent over the 2021 assessment of $146,300. 
    According to a search of the building permits, Daddy Rabbit totally renovated the structure at a cost of $145,500. The house was assessed in 2022 at $477,600. The renovated structure sold for $525,000, or 9.92 percent over assessment.

    Does the estate of Minnie Gardener get a cut? Did they know the city’s land use patterns? What, if anything, does the Affordable Housing Plan say about this type of situation? How many other homes on Charlton Avenue owned by Black families have had similar outcomes? (General Residential – Sensitive Communities, 0.15 acres)
  • It took exactly a year for Cardinal Ventures LLC to renovate and flip a house on Meadowbrook Heights Road in the Greenbrier neighborhood. The company bought the 0.44 acre property on November 29, 2021 for $320,000. They bought it from Silas Ventures, who had purchased the property for $140,000 on October 4, 2021.

    A search through building permits turns up a complaint in March 2022 for “extensive tree cutting and landscaping,” followed by an agreement in May for erosion and sediment control work in lieu of a formal plan. It appears the front yard was completely stripped of vegetation.

    According to Realtor.com, the home was “completely redesigned and fully updated” and now has four bedrooms. The new owners paid $670,000. I’d calculate the assessment, but somehow Cardinal Ventures was able to convince the assessor’s office to reduce the total assessment from $444,800 in 2021 to $298,000 in 2022. (General Residential, 0.44 acres)

November 30, 2022

  • Ram’s Head LLC is the new owner of an 893 square foot two-bedroom apartment at 1303 Wertland Street. That’s 19.49 percent over the 2022 assessment of $188,300. (High Intensity Residential, N/A)
  • A three bedroom house at the corner of 10th Street and Page Street NW built in 2005 sold for $500,000. This house was built by the Piedmont Housing Alliance as part of an effort to revitalize the neighborhood in the mid-2000’s. You can read all about that here in a promotional brochure used to celebrate their efforts at the time.

    The first purchaser bought the house on January 4, 2007 for $250,000. Piedmont Housing Alliance had a non-binding right of first refusal but according to the deed, they waived and released that right as part of this transaction. The language in the original deed had an affordability provision that lasted for three years and restricted sales price to 106 percent of the original sales price. How many homes did PHA build in total and are any of them still occupied by the original owner? Did PHA ever exercise their right to purchase any of the units? If not, what was the point? Who lives in those units now? Most importantly, what would John Gaines think?

    In 2022, the property was assessed at $409,600. This transaction is 22.07 percent over that figure. (General Residential – Sensitive Communities, 0.08 acres)
  • A four bedroom house on Kenwood Lane in the Greenbrier neighborhood sold for $775,000. That’s 61.93 percent over the 2022 assessment of $476,800. This property last changed hands in October 2021 when Hinge Remodeling and Construction LLC  purchased it for $350,000, which was 9.14 below the 2021 assessment. They completely remodeled the house, installing a new basement with a kitchenette, new plumbing and wiring, and a new heating and ventilation system. (General Residential, 0.283 acres) 
  • A 1,059 square foot unit in the McGuffey Hill condominium complex in North Downtown sold for $385,000. That’s 17.92 percent over the 2022 assessment of $326,500. (Downtown Core, N/A)
  • A three bedroom house on Mobile Lane built in 1956 in the Fry’s Spring neighborhood sold for $373,000. That’s 18.9 percent over the 2022 assessment of $313,700. (General Residential, 0.203 acres)

There’s a lot of questions in this one. I do not know the answers. I make no predictions but end this with one generalization. People who know how to make money will do so, and those of us who do not literally pay the price. 

After over thirty years or journalism, my philosophy essentially boils down to three words.

Trust no one.

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