Council agrees to allow potential zoning change for nine-story Ivy Road building

The University of Virginia Foundation has slowly purchased properties on Ivy Road for future use by the University of Virginia. The owners of one holdout property are seeking permission from the city to develop their property as a private development. 

“This proposed zoning text amendment was submitted on behalf of RMD Properties and seeks to reduce the lot size for a Planned Unit Development within the Urban Corridor zoning district,”  said James Freas, the city’s Director of Neighborhood Development Services.

Freas said RMD wants a way forward to develop the one acre property with a nine-story building. This is one of the last remaining properties on Ivy Road to be privately owned rather than be under the control of the University of Virginia. 

“Now I want to be clear that this pathway has many steps in it and the action tonight is in no way an approval of the project,” Freas said. 

Freas said the Planning Commission would make a recommendation on whether this exception be allowed. The current rewrite of the zoning code is intended to eliminate Planned Unit Development projects as one way to reduce barriers from proposal to construction. In the meantime, this request is active and falls under the soon-to-be-old rules. 

“Staff will be doing an analysis to understand the full implications of this change and reserves the right to develop a recommendation on the amendment,” Freas said. 

Most of the property in purple is owned by the University of Virginia or the UVA Foundation. RMD Properties wants to developer their property and not sell. (Credit: City of Charlottesville)

In December, Freas said the review of the zoning code could be delayed if there was a slowdown in legal review. Later that month, City Attorney Lisa Robertson resigned. 

“We anticipate and we certainly hope that we’ll be able to move forward in a timely manner with that zoning ordinance amendment but in the meantime, [Planned Unit Developments] do offer an opportunity for a more flexible approach to zoning that could be consistent with our efforts with the Comprehensive Plan,” Freas said. 

Freas said there will be ways to accomplish flexibility in the future zoning. 

The project is directly across Copeley Road from UVA’s Emmet-Ivy Corridor which will see a 214-room hotel and conference center, the Karsh Institute of Democracy, the School of Data Sciences, and many more as-yet unprogrammed buildings. 

Council voted unanimously to send the request to the Planning Commission. 

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