Charlottesville PC to consider two big projects near UVA 

The six members of the Charlottesville Planning Commission meet at 5 p.m. in the Neighborhood Development Services conference room for their off-camera, unrecorded pre-meeting. Then they’ll travel up the corridor in City Hall to Council Chambers for their regular meeting at 5:30 p.m. (meeting info)

On the consent agenda is the Planning Commission’s approval of a site plan for Belmont Condominiums, a 130-unit townhouse development being built by-right by Riverbend Development on land zoned in 2003 as Neighborhood Corridor Commercial. There was a recent procedural denial in October, but the project will go forward with this approval. 

Also on the consent agenda is a “2232 review” of public facilities to be built as part of the VERVE Charlottesville plan being pursued by Subtext. That refers to a check to see if they are compliant with the Comprehensive Plan. 

At some point during the meeting they’ll also become the Charlottesville Entrance Corridor Review Board to grant an approval for 1709 Jefferson Park Avenue. City Council voted 3-2 in October to approve a special use permit under the existing zoning that allows for additional density for the replacement of an 8-unit structure.

But there are three public hearings for rezonings which will become a relic as soon as the Development Code is adopted. There will be public hearings for permits for special uses and possibly for special exceptions, but the days where the public can make a comment at a meeting before legislators will more or less be over for big land use changes. 

The first public hearing is for VERVE Charlottesville which would see the demolition of 62 existing apartment units on 3.3 acres on Stadium Road near the University of Virginia’s Bavarro Hall to make way for a very large building that would have between 524 to 550 residential units. 

“The proposed building will have a height range of (75) feet to (135) feet and stories that range from (5) to (12),” reads the agenda. 

This has raised the concern of the University of Virginia in the form of a November 1, 2023 letter to City Council urging consideration of the impacts this development would have on the UNESCO World Heritage Site. (read the letter)

“Redevelopment projects near the Academical Village have never proposed new conditions that would diminish the integrity of the site until now,” write UVA Architect Alice Raucher and Senior Vice President Colette Sheehy. “The proposed Verve Planned Unit Development at Stadium Road and Jefferson Park Avenue… could have a major and negative visual effect.”

The second public hearing is for a rezoning on Lankford Avenue that seeks a change on three parcels from R-1 Small Lots to R-3 multifamily residential. The developer also seeks a special use permit for an increase in density from 21 units per acre to 51 units per acre. 

“The applicant is proposing a multifamily residential development with up to 48 units through new construction,” reads the agenda. 

That intensity would likely not be possible under the future zoning which is Residential-A. 

The final public hearing is for the last remaining property in the 2100 block of Ivy Road that is not owned by the University of Virginia or its real estate foundation. 

RMD Properties seek a rezoning at 2117 Ivy Road from Urban Corridor to Planned Unit Development to build up to 287 residential units in a single building. 

“The proffers indicate the applicant shall choose one of the following options: either provide 10% of residential units as affordable dwellings to households at 60% of area median income, or provide a cash contribution to the City’s affordable housing fund in the amount equal to double that which is required under Section 34-12(d)(2),” reads the agenda. 

The University of Virginia Foundation has sent a letter to City Council objecting to much of the material in the application process. One of their many entities, Ivy Square of Charlottesville, owns and operates 2119 Ivy Road, 2123 Ivy Road, and 2125 Ivy Road. The UVA foundation paid $20 million for this property on December 15, 2021.

“The retail and commercial tenants who operate in these buildings are iconic local businesses with long records of commitment and service to the neighborhood and Charlottesville community,” reads the letter. “As the owners of this vibrant retail complex, we write this letter to note several inaccurate descriptions in the plan set materials included in the agenda packet.”

In all, there are eight points in the letter, which can be read here. One question is what the UVA Foundation plans to do with the property long term. Other iconic local businesses that they purchased are now gone, including the Cavalier Inn.

The Planning Commission will next meet on November 28, 2023 to hold a work session on the Capital Improvement Program for FY25 and beyond. 

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 November 13, 2023 Week Ahead. To ensure this research can be sustained, please consider becoming a paid subscriber or contributing monthly through Patreon.

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