This is definitely a much slower month, anecdotally speaking. At some point, I am hoping something will click and I’ll be able to present the data in ways that can more clearly show trends. But that’s not the point of this monthly newsletter on property transactions in the city of Charlottesville.
The point is for me as a person who lives here and a longtime journalist to go through and know who is purchasing what properties. I only identify purchasers or sellers if they are corporate entities. I am not trying to point out patterns. I just find this to be a useful exercise that helps me better understand the city where I live and a beat for which people pay me to cover.
The rewrite of the zoning ordinance is underway with sometimes heated conversations happening all over Charlottesville. This monthly summary of property transactions in the city is my way of checking out what’s happening as the rules of development change. There have been many claims that speak with certainty about what might happen, but I am a professional skeptic and I will continue this anecdotal look as long as I am able to do so.
This time around I am including the total acreage for each parcel as well as the current Future Land Use Map designation. It’s possible the specifics for each parcel will change but the map is an adopted part of a Comprehensive Plan that assumes every parcel will have more development rights. The way those new development rights may be realized will depend on the size and shape of the plot. That’s where the zoning rewrite comes in.
This is the 19th month that I’ve written up a summary of property transactions in Charlottesville and shared it with the public as part of my work covering land use issues in the greater community. I hope you’ll find this bit of my research informative and useful.
I started this newsletter over two years ago as a way to get information out about the details of what’s happening in an area that continues to grow. There are a lot of moving parts in this community, and I’ve spent a lot of my career trying to keep track of as much as I can.
This September marks the 20th anniversary of my arrival in the Charlottesville area, as well as the 30th anniversary of my introduction to journalism. Somehow while a student at Virginia Tech, I decided to try my hand at making a career out of reporting and to this day I’m trying my best to make a go of it.
I am grateful to the hundreds of people who have opted to help support my work with a paid subscription to this newsletter or through Patreon support. In exchange, I do my best to stay up to date on as much as I can so that readers and listeners can also be informed.
For the transactions, go straight to the middle. Let’s start with some backstory about the land use policy changes that are currently underway.
This summer, Charlottesville community members are encouraged to participate in the third act of the Cville Plans Together initiative. The city and the consultants have published the Zoning Diagnostic and Approach Report which describes how the ordinance will be changed to make it easier for developers to develop more units.
“This plan acknowledges the negative legacies planning and zoning have had and how they have been used to divide, exclude, and diminish communities of color and historically marginalized communities,” Neighborhood Development Services Director James Freas writes in an introduction to the report. “Frequently, the tools of planning and zoning were used to either advance-large scale change or prevent it entirely.”
Another anecdotal look at property sales with few frills
This month I’ll keep it simple. This is intended to be an anecdotal list of transactions of property in Charlottesville for the month of April. This is not an automated process, because I use this review to keep an eye on what is happening in the city of Charlottesville. I share it with the public because I suspect many of you will find it useful, too. Paid subscribers to this newsletter get a first look before it will be posted on the Information Charlottesville archive.
Some highlights this month:
The University of Virginia Foundation has continued its investment in the Ivy Road Corridor with another purchase directly opposite from the future Emmet / Ivy precinct.
Several vacant lots across the city were sold, prompting my curiosity about what will be built on those spaces in North Downtown, Woolen Mills, and Ridge Street.
Notable commercial sales include the buildings that house Lampo Neopolitan Pizza and the Bridge Performing Arts Initiative, as well as a shopping center on Maury Avenue that has two restaurants and a dry cleaner.
The 15th anecdotal look at the Charlottesville Property Market by a longtime land use reporter
To begin, the answer to the question in the last line of this installment is Medium Intensity Residential.
Nearly five months have passed since the Charlottesville City Council adopted a new Future Land Use Map that grants additional residential density for every single lot in Charlottesville. The table has been set for a more dense Charlottesville, and the property market appear to reflects enthusiastic support of changes that for land designated Middle Intensity Residential.
“Market value is defined as the most probable price expressed in terms of money that a property would bring if exposed for sale on the open market,” reads an FAQ on the website of the Charlottesville City Assessor. “The sale should be an arms-length transaction between a willing seller and a willing buyer, both of whom are knowledgeable concerning all the uses to which the property is adapted and for which it is capable of being used.”
Some people know much more about how real estate works than others. I disclaim I own one house within Charlottesville but otherwise have no interest in using additional property to advance my material wealth. For others, this is their career. I write these because as the community seeks solutions to the high cost of housing, I feel it is crucial to have a sense of what’s happening even if I’m still learning all of the mechanics.
I will also disclaim I do make a living writing about the place around me. I’ve spent nearly fifteen years paying close attention to land use issues and I’m making a living off of it in that manner. This summary goes first to paid Substack subscribers but will be posted to Information Charlottesville on Wednesday. Thank you to the hundreds of subscribers for helping Town Crier Productions get off the ground!
The sales prices here are tied to contracts signed in late November or in December, so the use of the 2022 assessment is meant for illustrative purposes. This report is an exercise for all of us to review in the hopes of better understanding the forces at work.
For each of the past 12 months, I’ve kept a regular record of property transactions in Charlottesville and I’ve posted what I come across for people to see. I’m not a real estate agent, but I’ve written about land use for many years. The best way to stay on top of things is to look at all of the details
The biggest land use story in 2021 in Charlottesville has been the adoption of a Comprehensive Plan in November that seeks to increase residential density across the city. Some have speculated that would add to the cost of property within the city, especially the land value. There have been some spectacular examples of people paying for houses way over the 2021 assessment. How big will the assessments be in 2022?
Eleven months down, one more to go. This year has seen a lot of transactions that are well over the official city assessment, and November was no exception. What will the assessments be like in 2022? Is it possible to determine yet if the Future Land Use Map of the Comprehensive Plan has influenced purchases? Is there a trend towards more limited liability companies owning homes, or has that always been going on?
Those are questions beyond the reach of this summary, which is another anecdotal account of the many individual transactions that took place.