Charlottesville to spend $5.9 million to purchase floodplain land slated for dense development 

The City of Charlottesville is set to spend $5.9 million to buy land from developer Wendell Wood along the Rivanna River, ending a plan to build 245 apartment units on land within the floodplain. 

“In light of the location of the property in an environmentally sensitive area, and the City’s need for additional passive recreation areas, City staff entered into discussions with the developer to acquire the property for passive recreation,” reads the staff report for a resolution on Council’s November 6 agenda. 

An image from one of the several site plan submissions made by Shimp Engineering on behalf of Seven Development (Credit: Shimp Engineering)

Though they did not own the nearly two-dozen acres of land, Seven Development submitted a plan to the city’s Department of Neighborhood Development Services in the fall of 2022 that would have seen three multistory buildings constructed on fill dirt imported to the site in order to raise the elevation. The company had entered into a contract with Wood’s Southern Ventures to buy the land upon receipt of site plan approval. 

In September, Council upheld a decision by Charlottesville Planning Commission that found that roadways constructed to support the project would not be consistent with the Comprehensive Plan. 

The work for the city to acquire the property dates back to this February when Council agreed to commission an appraisal of the land. While that work was conducted, civil engineers working for Seven Development continued to submit new site plans to address previous denials. 

According to the resolution, a firm called Riverside Multifamily will be assigned the right to purchase the land from Seven Development. Riverside will be assigned a fee for its work in conveying the land to the city. 

In addition to the assignment contract, there’s a document called “a mutual release of claims” which ends any potential legal action that may have arisen. Seven Development could have appealed Council’s decision in court, but that that avenue will now be closed.

The funding will come from the city’s Capital Improvement Program contingency program. 

Contract language for Seven Development’s assignment of its claim on the property to Riverside Family LLC, the firm that will facilitate conveyance of the land to the City of Charlottesville. 

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