An official group of planning officials from around the Charlottesville area got a preview last month on a major rezoning on land at the University of Virginia Foundation’s North Fork research park. The Land Use Environmental and Planning Committee was created in 2019 when elected officials agreed to cease meeting in public as a body known as the Planning and Coordination Council. One of its members is Hosea Mitchell of the Charlottesville Planning Commission.
“They are actually asking for a rezoning and the rezoning is to allow for residential to be included in the industrial developments that they’re doing there,” Mitchell said.
After the Buildings and Grounds Committee concluded on Thursday, the Academic and Student Life Committee met and heard from the new dean of the School of Architecture and the director of the Karsh Institute for Democracy.
First up: Malo Hutson took over as Dean of the School of Architecture at the beginning of the academic year. He previously was at Columbia University where he directed the Urban Communities and Health Equity Lab. Hutson said the study of architecture is focused on the public realm.
“We’re focused on addressing some of the biggest issues of the world, ranging from climate change all the way to the importance of cultural landscape and heritage, to thinking about do you build with healthy materials and so forth and transportation,” Hutson said.
The December 9 meeting of the Buildings and Grounds Committee meeting was a shorter one than usual, but members were briefed on several items of note. One related to UVA’s sustainability efforts. Colette Sheehy is the Senior Vice President for Operations and State Government at UVA.
“You’ll recall that the big audacious goal for sustainability is to be carbon neutral by 2030 and fossil-fuel free by 2050,” Sheehy said. “Overall our emissions are down by 44 percent over the last decade which is equivalent to about 160,000 tons of carbon.”
A routine closed-door meeting of key planning officials in Albemarle, Charlottesville, and University of Virginia was held last week on October 15. The Land Use and Environmental Planning Committee (LUEPC) had four presentations on items related to climate adaptation.
Paul Zmick, Director of Energy and Utilities at UVA, gave a presentation on the school’s efforts to develop a strategy for thermal energy use. That’s one way UVA hopes to become fossil-free by the year 2050. A recent study evaluated dozens of potential ways to reduce reliance on old technology. Some strategies are recommended to be dropped from further analysis such as solar thermal, biomass, and deep geothermal. (presentation)
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.
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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.
The University of Virginia’s Board of Visitors met earlier this month. One of the items on the Building and Grounds Committee’s agenda was approval of a master plan for the redevelopment of Ivy Gardens, an apartment complex between Old Ivy Road and Leonard Sandridge Road that was built in the late 1960’s.
University Architect Alice Raucher explained the purpose of creating a master plan.
“It is in general always good to have a plan and physical master planning helps to set priorities to inform future plans,” Raucher said. “It often aligns limited physical resources with often equally limited financial resources and provides the opportunity for broad University and community engagement to create a shared vision.”
Ivy Gardens is made up of 17 acres and has 440 residential units close to North Grounds, Darden, the School of Law, and the Miller Center for Public Affairs, and the Center for Politics.
“In 2016, at the direction of the University, the Foundation purchased Ivy Gardens and although its structures are aging, the property is currently income producing with units that primarily house our graduate students in a low-density, automobile-oriented development,” Raucher said.
The proposed redevelopment plan would increase the number of units to 718 and would add about 46,000 square feet of academic space and 69,500 square feet for commercial uses. The latter would be clustered in a new Town Square that would front onto Old Ivy Road. To the immediate north would be a Residential Commons with different kinds of housing types. In the middle would be a Central Green. A pedestrian bridge would cross Leonard Sandridge Drive, allowing safe passage to Darden and the Law School.
Tonight, the Charlottesville Planning Commission will have a joint public hearing with the City Council on a rezoning on a cul-de-sac on the western edge of Fifeville. A property owner on Valley Road Extended seeks the rezoning and a special use permit to build four apartment units on just under two-thirds of land. The applicant is proffering $48,000 to build a portion of sidewalk and have suggested it could be part of a larger network. (meeting info)
“Sidewalk improvements along the new parcel frontage along Valley Road Extended that ultimately may be incorporated into a more robust pedestrian and bicycle improvement network if the multi-use tunnel under the railroad right of way, as called for in the  Bike and Pedestrian Master Plan,” reads the narrative.
The narrative references a map on page 38 of the plan that depicts many desired projects throughout the city. One of them is this underpass at the northern end of Valley Road Extended.
However, there is no active project planned for such a tunnel at this site to occur, according to city Communications Director Brian Wheeler. In all, there is a distance of 4,500 feet where the railroad bisects the Fifeville neighborhood from the University of Virginia without a pedestrian or vehicular crossing, between Shamrock Road and Roosevelt Brown Boulevard.
The University of Virginia is also not planning for a tunnel at that location, according to its non-voting representative on the Planning Commission. After the city agreed to hand over right of way for the Brandon Avenue corridor, UVA agreed to study for a railroad crossing and settled on a different planning concept closer to Monroe Lane and Paton Street. However, they are not pursuing a crossing at this time but will work with the city on an easement should it choose to proceed.
The University of Virginia has begun planning work to implement their pledge to build up to 1,500 housing units to be designated for people at certain income-levels on land owned by UVA or the UVA real estate foundation. At a virtual event Thursday night, President Jim Ryan said housing is one of five areas identified for community partnership. The original announcement of the UVA housing initiative was made on March 10, and the news was quickly overshadowed by the World Health Organization declaration the next day of the COVID pandemic.
“So, a year later I’d like to begin by restating our goal upfront, and the goal is really simple,” Ryan said. “It’s to support the development of a thousand to 1,500 of affordable housing units across Charlottesville and Albemarle County over the next ten years. We’ll do this by contributing land and partnering with a third-party developer. I will say that financial profit is not at all our driver and that our goal has the support of the Board of Visitors and the entire leadership team at the University.”
UVA’s work will happen in that regional background, as UVA steps into a role they’ve not played before. Chief Operating Officer J.J. Davis is serving as chair of the UVA Affordable Housing Advisory Group which includes community members.
“The goal for this initial phase of this work is to learn more about how you see the University contributing to affordable housing solutions in our community and to collect input that will help this stage,” Davis said.
No sites have yet been determined for where new units might be. A quick look at area GIS records shows that the UVA Foundation owns around three dozen properties in Charlottesville, and that the Rector and Visitors of the University own around 90. UVA-proper owns over 70 parcels in Albemarle and the foundation owns several dozen.
To sort through the possibilities and to establish criteria for hiring that third-party developer, UVA has hired Gina Merritt of Northern Real Estate Urban Ventures to work through this phase, which will result in the development of a “request for proposals.”
“My team’s role in the University’s affordable housing initiative is to help UVA to develop a framework for implementing this initiative,” Merritt said. “The University plans to solicit developers to help develop University property in a way that meets our collective goals.”
This will include market research, review of previous studies, and discussion of comparative examples.
“And once the sites are selected for development, we will evaluate zoning, determine what housing and income types should be located on each site, and then draw diagrams to show the potential scale of these buildings,” Merritt said. “We will run financial models to determine the best way to finance the development and identify possible resources to fund the project.”
Merritt presented three examples of developments she’s been involved with. One of these is the 70-unit Nannie Hellen at 4800 in Washington D.C. where one-third of the units were replacement units for public housing, and the rest were financed through Low-Income Housing Tax Credits (LIHTC).
The trio took questions from those on the virtual call. J.J. Davis asked the first.
“A lot of organizations are already doing affordable housing work,” Davis asked. “Where will UVA fit in so that they are not competing or duplicating efforts. Jim?”
“That’s a great question and in some respects that’s part of the community engagement process,” Ryan said. “The landscape is filled with people who are working on this issue already and we want to figure out the best way we can fit into this landscape so that we’re not duplicating efforts or competing but instead complementing the efforts.”
“Next question,” Davis asked. “When will the units be built?”
“Well, we want to get started as soon as possible,” Ryan said. “As I mentioned earlier, the goal is to complete a thousand to 1,500 units over ten years. Our thought is that we will start with one project. We are not that experienced with this so what we want to do is start with one project and take the lessons we’ve learned there when we move on to the second or third projects.”
Near the end of the presentation, Merritt took advantage of the poll feature in Zoom to take the pulse of those attending. Nearly ninety percent of those participating supported the idea of UVA developing housing for the community on its property.
President Jim Ryan concluded the event.
“UVA and our neighbors in Charlottesville, Albemarle, and the surrounding counties are linked together and our fates are tied together and one of the reasons for us to be a good neighbor is because of that. I think helping to contribute to… increasing the supply of affordable housing is one part of that,” Ryan said.
The Buildings and Grounds Committee of the University of Virginia’s Board of Visitors met yesterday and approved the schematic design for a new hotel and conference center, as well as an athletics complex. The $130.5 million hotel project will be located near the new School of Data Science within the emerging Ivy Corridor. (meeting packet)
“A mixed-use hospitality, convening, and social destination in this central location will provide a catalyst to achieve these strategic goals set by the President’s Emmet Ivy Task Force,” reads the staff report.
The Charlottesville City Council will be presented with a $160 million five-year capital improvement program (CIP) that anticipates spending $50 million on a reconfiguration of middle school education.
Council and School Board will meet Thursday, January 28 at 5 p.m. to discuss budget preparations. (meeting info)