Category Archives: Land Use – Charlottesville

August 2021 property sales in Charlottesville: New owners for La Quinta Inn, residential prices still up

When I launched this particular feature in January, I did so because I wanted to better understand the real estate economy in Charlottesville. I have owned my home for over 13 years now, a time that roughly coincides with the time I have spent taking a close look at local government as it relates to land use, transportation, growth development, and more. 

One of the cornerstones of my journalistic philosophy is that I know nothing. Every single time I begin writing a story, I look at every single fact and where I got it from. I want to make sure that what I am putting in writing and sending out under my name is accurate. I try to strip out commentary. 

So, this is another in a series of anecdotal accounts of real estate transactions in Charlottesville. It is a result of research I do as I track the Cville Plans Together process. There are big conversations happening about the future of the built environment, and thanks to your support I have been able to stay on top with summaries of these discussions.

My goal in all of this is to provide you with information with context drawn upon all of those years of meetings and interviews and stories. I have dedicated my life to this work and the result is the coverage that you are increasingly coming to depend upon. I cannot thank you enough all for your support but work that much harder with every new subscribe. You get first look at this curated information before it goes out to a wider audience. 

This month appears to continue the trend towards purchase prices well above assessments. There are also a few commercial transactions of note. All of the information comes from the city’s Open Data portal as well as other sources cited. Every transaction is unique to a situation between individuals or organizations, and not a single one of the following blurbs is the complete story. 

August 2, 2021

  • A two bedroom house on Valley View Circle in the Martha Jefferson neighborhood sold for $280,000, which is 2.17 percent below the 2021 assessment. The purchaser is Two Dog LLC, a company registered with an Ivy address. 
  • A two bedroom house in the 200 block of Meade Avenue built in 1947 sold for $245,000 which is 2.82 percent below the 2021 assessment. 
  • A two bedroom house in the 1100 block of Altavista Avenue built in 1931 sold for $220,000. That’s 30.33 percent over the 2021 assessment. 
  • Half of a duplex on Rock Creek Road in Orangedale section of Fifeville sold for $175,000, or 24.91 percent over the 2021 assessment.
House on Valley View Circle
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Charlottesville PC reviews Urban Rivanna Corridor Plan

(This article originally appeared in the August 17, 2021 edition of Charlottesville Community Engagement)

The Rivanna River serves as the boundary between eastern Charlottesville and the Pantops area of Albemarle County. To the north is the Pen Park within Charlottesville, and the river meanders south to the Sentara Martha Jefferson complex.  What steps can be taken to connect the waterway to the built environment?

The area has been studied for many years, and the Thomas Jefferson Planning District Commission has been working on a study intended to unify future planning and implementation efforts. Nick Morrison is a planner with the TJPDC who updated the Charlottesville Planning Commission at their meeting on August 10. (TJPDC page on the plan)

“The goal of this phase of this planning project was to develop a vision and an action plan for that urban section of the corridor,” Morrison said. 

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Charlottesville property transactions in July 2021

(This piece went out first to paid subscribers of Charlottesville Community Engagement. Consider purchasing a subscription to help pay for this community resource!)

Another month in 2021, another time of interesting activity in the Charlottesville property market. Only a handful are below assessment, and there are quite a number of transactions that are well over assessment. There are a few items of new construction selling on infill properties, two major transactions on the mixed-use section of Cherry Avenue, and new homes in the Belmont Point and Lochlyn Hills neighborhoods continue to sell to their first owner.

What jumps out at you?

July 1, 2021

  • A commercial building that has been home to a doctor’s office on 10th Street NE sold for $1,295,000, which is 9.09 percent over the 2021 assessment. The purchaser is Little High LLC.
  • A unit in the condominium building on Cream Street sold for $235,500, which is 11.9 percent below the 2021 assessment. The purchaser is Wellington Properties LLC.
  • A two bedroom house on Cameron Lane on 0.316 acres in the Lewis Mountain Neighborhood sold for $487,500, or 17.5 percent over the 2021 assessment. 
  • A three bedroom house on Goodman Street in Belmont neighborhood built in 1929 sold for $600,000. That’s 52.98 percent over the 2021 assessment. 
  • As reported in the July 7, 2021 Charlottesville Community Engagement, Woodard Properties has purchased another couple of properties on Cherry Avenue in an area currently zoned for mixed-use. The company paid $1.55 million for two properties at 801 Cherry Avenue, currently a vacant lot. That’s 41.24 percent over the 2021 assessment. In April, Woodard Properties paid $3.1 million for the Cherry Avenue Shopping Center and five vacant properties behind it. These two lots make up about 0.85 acres.
Commercial building at 308 10th Street NE
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Council indicates support for Belmont rezoning

There’s an age-old question in land use. Which comes first? The development, or the infrastructure? Should developments be limited in size if all of the pieces aren’t yet in place to support additional residents? 

The topic came up during Council’s consideration on August 2 on the rezoning of 1206 Carlton Avenue which will allow development of an eight-unit apartment complex on a currently empty lot in Belmont. The project also requires a special use permit. City planner Matt Alfele represented city staff. 

“The applicant is also requesting side setbacks be modified from 13 feet to 8 feet,” Alfele said. “The application materials indicate the height of the building would be approximately 40 feet but no greater than the R-3 allotted 45 feet.” 

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Transactions of Property in Charlottesville in June 2021

Another month of transactions worth reviewing for anybody interested in land use in the city of Charlottesville. I don’t offer any trends or analysis here, except that most properties continue to sell above the assessed value. There are not any major commercial transactions this month, unless you count where an LLC purchases a residence or two.

I always hope to get these out faster, but it takes time to process. I could likely have a computer automate this to make it easier, but I manually look up each transaction in order to have a better sense of what’s happening with the real estate market. As I continue to write about the Cville Plans Together initiative, I find it very important to document all of these transactions about the here and now.

This piece is made possible through people who have subscribed to Charlottesville Community Engagement as well as those who make a monthly contribution through Patreon. Please do forward this on to others. Thank you helping to support a full year of independent journalism funded almost entirely by readers and listeners. Now, time to get to work on July!

June 1, 2021

  • A home built in 1955 in the 1300 block of Hilltop Road in the Barracks / Rugby neighborhood sold for $1.03 million. That’s actually 22.04 percent below the 2021 assessment. 
  • A two-bedroom home built in 1955 in the 700 block of Lexington Avenue in the Martha Jefferson neighborhood sold for $550,000. That’s 47.45 percent over the 2021 assessment. According to a listing on realtor.com, a new roof was put on in 2020 and a new heat pump was installed this year. The listing also states that it is a “great candidate for expansion, up and out!”
  • A three-bedroom home built in 1956 on Harris Road in the Fry’s Spring neighborhood sold for $452,000, or 37 percent over the 2021 assessment. 
  • Next door is another home built in 1956 that sold for $410,000, or 39.6 percent over the 2021 assessment. 
  • A 996 square foot unit in the Linden Town Lofts sold for $283,000. That’s 14.07 percent over the 2021 assessment of $248,100 and 27.48 percent over the 2020 assessment of $222,000. 
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CRHA seeks change to critical slopes waiver conditions for South First Street

The Charlottesville Planning Commission has unanimously recommended a proposal from the Charlottesville Redevelopment and Housing Authority to alter one of the conditions in a critical slopes waiver they were granted in early 2019 for the first phase of the redevelopment of South First Street. Carrie Rainey is a planner with the city of Charlottesville.

“The previously granted critical slopes waiver allows for construction and land disturbing activities within critical slopes for a development that would include 62 multifamily residential units in three buildings and a community resources center,” Rainey said. 

City code defines a critical slope as one that has a grade of 25 percent or higher, and also contains either a horizontal run greater than 20 feet or is within two hundred feet of a waterway. The idea is to prevent erosion and prevent sediment from entering waterways, which kills macroinvertebrate life. The waterway Pollocks Branch is within the latter. 

After construction at South First Street began, CRHA notified the city it would not be able to comply with a condition of the slopes waiver that required a phased construction so that two buildings on First Street would be built first “in order to create a better stabilized site during construction and to facilitate more effective erosion and sediment control measures.” 

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Charlottesville PC recommends Carlton Avenue rezoning

The return of a rezoning application for a property in the 1200 block of Carlton Avenue got the nod from the Charlottesville Planning Commission at their meeting on July 13, 2021. The seven-member panel considered a rezoning and special use permit for a vacant lot currently zoned R-2, which would allow two units on the property.

“The requested rezoning would be to R-3, residential multifamily medium density,” said Commission Chair Hosea Mitchell. “And then the following special use permit would then allow the applicant to build eight units.”

A similar application went before Commission and the Council in 2018 and was denied by Council in October that year. As part of this application, eight parking spaces would be provided on site. Here’s Matt Alfele, a city planner. 

“Residents are concerned that the code-required eight parking spaces will not be enough for this development and the overflow parking will impact the surrounding neighborhoods, especially the homes on Chestnut Street,” Alfele said. 

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Design Public Hearing held for Barracks / Emmet Smart Scale project

One of several major transportation projects intended to make Charlottesville an easier place to bike or walk passed a milestone last week. In 2017, the city was awarded $8.6 million in Virginia Department of Transportation Smart Scale funds for a project at the intersection of Barracks Road and Emmet Street. The design public hearing was held on July 7, 2021. 

“The purpose of the project is to improve the operational performance of the Barracks Road and Emmet Street intersection while also enhancing bicycle, pedestrian and transit facilities serving the adjacent neighborhoods,” said the narrator of a presentation shown at the virtual meeting. (watch the full presentation)

The work will include a new northbound right-turn lane on Emmet Street, an additional west-bound left-hand turn lane on Barracks Road, upgraded traffic signals, increased medians, and a shared-use path up Barracks Road. Part of the work will involve something called a “pedestrian refuge” to allow slower walkers to cross Emmet Street and take a break. 

“The scope of bicycle and pedestrian improvements on Barracks Road were less somewhat less defined which provided an opportunity to involve local citizens in the early planning and decision-making process,” the presentation continued. 

One man expressed concern that this plan seemed to have come from nowhere and that it may not actually work. 

“This has been a long time question for me about Charlottesville and planning and development,” said Joel Bass. “How do we actually develop in this town without working with [the University of Virginia] and getting feedback from them on their plans?” 

Bass said what was needed from westbound Barracks Road was a right-hand lane. 

Before we hear from city staff, some background. In 1986, Albemarle, Charlottesville and UVA signed a Three Party Agreement and until 2019 there was a public body known as the Planning and Coordination Council (PACC) where projects and planning were discussed in the open. Since late 2019, a private body called the Land Use and Environmental Planning Committee meets and those events are closed to the public. This LUEPC group last met on June 25, 2021 and there is one page of minutes. (read those minutes)

Back to the Barracks/Emmet project. There is a steering committee that includes a member of the UVA Office of the Architect and those meetings are open to the public. Kyle Kling in Charlottesville’s public works department.

“In our department, we meet quarterly with the University to discuss projects the city is administering as well as projects that the University has throughout their Grounds and during those conversations we always discuss how things will trend during the future and how projects may supplement each other so that coordination is ongoing,” Kling said. 

Two other Smart Scale projects are in the planning states to the south on Emmet Street. The Emmet Street Streetscape had its design public hearing in December 2019. The Commonwealth Transportation Board just approved $20.6 million in funding for a second phase of that project that would span between Arlington Boulevard and Barracks Road. 

There was some concern at the public hearing about the shared-use path that will travel about a third of a mile up the hill on Barracks Road to Buckingham and Hill Top roads. Gregory Kastner was appreciative to get a dedicated facility, but had a question about how that fits into a larger network.

“As you’re on the bike lane coming up the road, how does that transition to the current sidewalk?” Kastner asked. “With it ending at Hill Top, there’s still a fair bit of up to go where the rider is going to be going pretty slow and it really wouldn’t be a great place to get dumped out on the road.”

Kastner said he hoped the scope of the project extended up to Rugby Road where the hill flattens.

Kling said in the short-term, a sharrow would be painted on the road in the short-term as VDOT has strict rules about extending Smart Scale projects past the boundaries outlined in their initial application. 

“I do know that there are some plans in the works on the city’s end to kind of continue bike and pedestrian upgrades further into town along this stretch,” Kling said. 

About another two-thirds of a mile up Barracks Road is another Smart Scale project to address the intersection of Preston Avenue and Grady Avenue. That project has also not yet begun. 

Next steps for the project include final approval by City Council this summer and completion of the design in the winter of 2022. If all goes according to schedule, construction would begin in the spring of 2023. 

Regional Transit Partnership talks park and ride, future bus types, and CAT changes

(This article originally appeared in the July 4, 2021 edition of Charlottesville Community Engagement)

If you’re interested in driving less, and you want to know what’s happening to improve transit, a good place to start is the Jefferson Area Regional Transit Partnership. The group consists of representatives from Charlottesville Area TransitJaunt, and the University of Virginia Transit Service, as well as elected and appointed officials. It’s also a place where people can comment on transit issues.

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A summary of Charlottesville transactions in May 2021

(This piece originally appeared on Charlottesville Community Engagement as an article for paid subscribers. Please consider becoming one to ensure these reviews can continue!)

2021 continues to be a year where the price of single-family residential homes and lots is increasing in Charlottesville, seemingly with no end in sight. Interest-rates remain low, as does interest in making large financial investments.

I feel it’s important to understand what’s happening here parcel by parcel, transaction by transaction. That helps me have a better understanding, though this month’s list raises more questions.

What insights do you have? How do these real-world transactions affect consideration of the recently adopted Affordable Housing Plan? Were any of these transactions influenced by the not-yet-adopted Future Land Use Map? How many of these houses might have been purchased for their land?

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