Albemarle Planning Commission briefed on Southwood redevelopment

In 2007, Habitat for Humanity of Greater Charlottesville purchased the Southwood Mobile Home Park in Albemarle County’s southern growth area for $7 million. Since then, the nonprofit agency has served as landlord of the site which currently has about 1,500 residents in 341 mobile homes. Since then, Habitat has been planning to redevelop it on a bigger scale that at the 16-unit Sunrise Trailer Court on Carlton Road. Megan Nedostup is a planner with Albemarle County.

“In 2016, the county partnered with Habitat through a Board resolution and then for fiscal year 2017 through fiscal year 2019, the Board of Supervisors included in their strategic plan initiative revitalizing urban neighborhoods,” Nedostup said.

In 2018, the Board agreed to contribute $675,000 to assist Habitat prepare its rezoning application for the first phase. In 2019, Habitat, the Board of Supervisors, and Albemarle Economic Development Authority entered into a performance agreement through which Albemarle would provide up to $1.8 million to help fund construction of affordable housing as well as $1.4 million in property tax rebates. Supervisors approved the first rezoning from R-2 to Neighborhood Model Development that year as well.  (performance agreement)

“Four hundred and fifty maximum units were approved in this phase one,” Nedostup said. “The units included a mixture of residential townhomes, multifamily, single family, duplexes and a maximum of 50,000 square feet of non-residential was permitted under the code of development.” 

Illustrative concept for how development is progressing at Southwood (Credit: Waterstreet Studio)

Construction of several blocks is underway and at various stages of the review process. Some of the first units to go through the site plan are the ones being constructed by Piedmont Housing Alliance using Low Income Housing Tax Credits in Blocks 11 and 12. In all, Piedmont Housing is seeking to build 121 rental units in Southwood Apartments. 

Blocks nine, 10, and the rest of 11 are mostly market-rate townhomes on the future New Horizon Drive to be built by Atlantic Builders

“There are 16 affordable townhomes,” Nedostup said. 

Village One consists of Blocks 5, 6, and 8, with parts of Blocks 3 and 4. There are a wide range of unit types in this area. An illustrative plan depicts what developer is building what units and where. In all, 287 units are planned so far, with planning to get underway on Village 2 in the future. 

Dan Rosensweig is the chief executive officer at Habitat for Humanity of Greater Charlottesville.

“We all know that you took a bit of a leap of faith with us when you recommended approval about two years ago,” Rosensweig said. “This is something a little bit different in that it was organized as a block plan which created a framework, a regulatory framework, which created flexibility for cohorts of residents to design the various moments within the new development.” 

Rosensweig took the Planning Commission on a video fly-through of these sections, which you can watch as part of the YouTube video. That’s also the best way to get a full sense of where the project is at the moment. (watch)

One small detail, the first floors of each of the buildings that make up Southwood Apartments will be 12 feet high, which Rosensweig said will allow them to serve as commercial at some point in the life cycle of those buildings. Here’s another detail about the architecture of some of the residential units in Village One. 

“One of the things that’s very important to us at Habitat and I know that it was important to you all in the rezoning process is that you can’t tell Habitat units from market-rate units so on every block there is a mixture of Habitat homes and market rate homes and we’ve coordinated with the market-rate builders to make sure our architecture matches up,” Rosensweig said. 

Rosensweig said that during the rezoning, Habitat agreed to make 15 percent of the housing in the first phase below-market through various interventions to bring down the cost to future residents. 

“So that would have been 50 of the 335 total units,” Rosensweig said. “We ended up 207 affordable units out of the 335 or 62 percent. That breakdown is about 80 Habitat units for purchase, six Habitat units for rent, and that will toggle a little bit. Some of the families may rent originally and then purchase the ones that they are renting.”

Piedmont Housing Alliance is building the rest of the subsidized units. 

The original plan had been to not move any of the mobile homes during the first phase, but 25 units have had to be moved. 

“In the initial phase, we had hoped not to move anybody at all,” Rosensweigh said. “That’s why we developed greenfields at first. We thought we might have to move a few. We’ve had to move a few more than we thought but none of them off-site. Out of an abundance of caution, we’re working with 25 families that are adjacent to the first construction zone that were a little too close for comfort.”

So far, eleven of the 25 trailers have been moved to other sections of the park and others should be moved by September. Rosensweig said Habitat has accumulated many trailers in its 14 years operating the site and was able to provide those in situations where the original structure could not be moved. 

As for construction of new units, Habitat’s Chief Construction Officer said the first lots will be turned over to developers sometime this fall. Here’s Andrew Vinisky.

“We anticipate our first five Habitat homes and likely the first four market rate homes to be delivered some time next summer,” Vinisky said. 

Work is underway now on the phasing for the rest of the Sunrise development. Attorney Lori Schweller of the firm Williams Mullen said staff has made a recommendation on how to proceed.

“We have been working closely with staff to plan for submittal of phase two and have been advised that an amendment to the existing zoning makes the most sense so we are preparing our concept plan and new code of development and hope to submit that in the fall,” Schweller said. 

Commissioner Karen Firehock had several questions related to affordability. 

“What percent or total number of the original units that you showed us a couple of years ago were supposed to be occupied by South residents?” Firehock asked. “How many are currently committed to existing residents? I’m trying to understand your success rate.”

“It’s actually going pretty well,” Rosensweig said. “We essentially canvassed the neighborhood and if you recall we’ve had numerous families who have been working toward this for a while so our first application process took place in the spring and we had 25 families step forward. Remember there are 49 homes in the first village, but they’re not all going to get built next year. There’s about 20 to 25 that are going to be get built every year so that was about the right number of families we needed to fill up the first buildings that we’re building.”

Rosensweig said the second application process will begin in August, and he expects all 86 Habitat units in the first phase to be occupied by current Southwood families. 

“We can’t force anybody to stay in the neighborhood and so there will be some families who leave and we’re working one on one on a strategy with all of them,” Rosenweig said.

Rosensweig did not have a break down on the annual income for the first cohort of families, Southwood, but said the average AMI for a Habitat family is 32 percent of the area median. 

Commissioner Tim Keller went back to the 1,500 people who are believed to be living at Southwood currently. He said with just over 200 affordable units in the first phase so far, that might not be be enough to accommodate all current residents who might want to live there. 

“I’m concerned at least that what we’ve seen so far, that there could actually be a net loss [of affordable housing],” Keller said. 

Rosensweig said that there is more of Southwood to be developed. 

“This is phase one so this is 30 acres out of 123 so there are 207 affordable homes on roughly a fifth of the site,” Rosensweig said. “There is an area four to five times the size of what Phase One is that will accommodate more affordable housing so when we come back for the second phase of rezoning, that’s where the additional density of affordable housing and market rate housing wll be.”

Keller said the numbers of affordable units often appear to be in flux.

“It seems like each time we have these discussions we’re told there are going to be answers in the future and I just can’t believe you be doing this without having those kind of projections,” Keller said. 

Commission Chair Julian Bivins noticed that all of the affordable rental units  appeared to be clustered, with the 120+ rentals built by Piedmont Housing Alliance in Block 12 and many of the Habitat clustered in the middle of village one. 

“And I’m sort of seeing all of the affordable housing units grouped together which means that people will sort of co-locate,” Bivins said. “When you bring this back for the second time, that will be one of the things I’m going to key off of.” 

For another version of the story, please do check out Allison Wrabel’s July 16 story in the Daily Progress.

This article originally appeared in the July 27 installment of Charlottesville Community Engagement)

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. 

Council approves $1 million in funding for statue removal

(This article was originally included in the July 7, 2021 edition of Charlottesville Community Engagement)

Whenever a plan becomes known for what will happen to the Confederate Statues in two Charlottesville parks, funding will be in place to cover at least some of the costs. Charlottesville City Council took action this morning at a special meeting on a resolution to allocate $1 million to the effort, which would be a legal action given a ruling this spring by the Virginia Supreme Court that the two statues are not protected war memorials. Council voted on June 7 on a resolution to ask groups if they had interest in taking ownership. (read the resolution)

“The 30 day window for considering statue relocation is coming to a close very shortly so we wanted to be able to have funding in place to take care of that,” Boyles said. 

So far, there have been eight inquiries from entities interested in taking on the statues. 

The resolution voted on by Council today also covered the Lewis, Clark and Sacagawea statue on West Main Street. 

“This is just putting funding in place so that we can either remove, store, or cover any or all of the three statues,” Boyles said. 

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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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Regional housing group “Planning for Affordability”

(This newsletter originally was published in the June 29, 2021 installment of Charlottesville Community Engagement)

The Central Virginia Regional Housing Partnership is nearly finished with a plan intended to coordinate efforts to increase the number of below-market housing units across the six localities of the Thomas Jefferson Planning District. The title of the document is Planning For Affordability: A Regional Approach. (download the draft plan)

“We felt that it was important to somehow identify what was particular to the region instead of just rehashing individual action steps that might be in the individual chapters for each locality,” said Anthony Haro, the executive director of the Thomas Jefferson Area Coalition for the Homeless. “And this led to some good conversations about how to track regionally these goals.” 

The plan is intended to foster collaboration that pools resources and improves communication about housing issues in order to reduce pressure on individual localities to shoulder the burden alone. But Haro said that won’t happen without coordinated implementation.

“This naturally led to the question of who is going to track these regional goals and who is responsible for overseeing the region,” Haro said. 

There’s also an additional chapter for each locality in the region. Each of these will be presented to the governing body in each before being approved by the entire Thomas Jefferson Planning District Commission. Christine Jacobs, interim director of the TJPDC, outlined what would happen the June 23 meeting and that consideration for approval. 

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Fifth and Avon Group Gets Update on Southwood

After years of planning, construction is well underway for the Habitat for Humanity of Greater Charlottesville’s redevelopment of the Southwood Mobile Home Park in Albemarle’s southern growth area. Land has been cleared along Old Lynchburg Road to make way for the first phase of the project.

Andrew Baxter is the director of operations for Habitat and he briefed the 5th and Avon Community Advisory Committee at their meeting on June 17, 2021. 

“Last September as you probably are aware we had the ribbon-cutting, have owned the park for a number of years, invested a great deal in basic infrastructure and safety over the years,” Baxter said. 

In August 2019, The Board of Supervisors approved a rezoning of nearly 34 acres of land from R-2 to the Neighborhood Model District, and the concept plan in the application is for up to 450 homes. 

“We’re operating now under a 2019 approved non-displacement plan,” Baxter said. “That’s our primary commitment in this redevelopment, that we will not displace current residents of the park, unless they choose to go somewhere else.”

Baxter said the idea had been not to move any existing residents in the first phase, but issues with aging septic systems on the site forced a change. 

“If you can imagine, a trailer park that was initially put in place in the 1950’s and 1960’s, about half the park is not on public sewer so that’s created some challenges,” Baxter said.  

In all, 26 mobile homes are in the process of being relocated and that work is expected to be complete in August. Baxter said Habitat is complying with the federal Uniform Relocation Act as part of those efforts. (watch a video on the URA)

“The options vary from physically moving a trailer to an empty pad in the park and the family goes with it, to moving a family to a vacant trailer that we own, to moving the trailer off property to a location that’s identified and desirable by the family, by the homeowner,” Baxter said.

The first lots to be used for new homes will be ready this fall. 

“That will allow for the construction of what we call Village 1, so Phase 1 Village 1, which will be a combination of duplexes, there’s one single-family dwelling in Village 1, and then four condo buildings that constitute twenty units total,” Baxter said. 

Baxter said the process is also underway for existing residents to apply for Habitat’s homeownership program.

“And that is an incredibly detailed, individualized process for each family that involves financial coaching, to get those folks ready if they want to be homeowners,” Baxter said. 

At the same time, the Piedmont Housing Alliance has been successful in their application for Low Income Housing Tax Credits for 70 units in what’s to be called Southwood Apartments. (2021 LIHTC rankings)

“So there’s very low rent units will be available for certain folks if they qualify as well,” Baxter said. 

A second rezoning application is also being prepared for the rest of the park’s redevelopment. 

Partners in the project so far are Faulconer Construction, Atlantic Builders, and Southern Development. Atlantic is building the condominiums and Southern Development is building the market-rate units. 

Concept included with the rezoning request from the summer of 2019

There is other construction happening nearby on Old Lynchburg Road. After Baxter was County Planner Tori Kanellopoulos gave details on site plans that are under review, such as part of the Albemarle Business Campus development for which ground has already been broken. 

“Block 5 includes a 103,500 square foot self storage building with additional retail space and restaurant that would be 3,800 square feet,” Kanellopoulos said. 

Crozet Master Plan talk turns to implementation; Crozet Plaza update

(This article is adapted from the June 21, 2021 Charlottesville Community Engagement)

The Albemarle Planning Commission will next take up the Crozet Master Plan at a work session on Tuesday, June 22. At the June 9 CAC meeting, committee members and participating residents got a presentation on the implementation of projects intended to bolster Crozet’s urban character. They also had the chance to comment on the plan update to date.  

But first, the implementation projects. The master plan is a large overview of the entire area, and further studies are suggested. The draft implementation chapter shows a list of ten potential topics ranging from a Downtown Neighborhood Architectural and Cultural Study to a stream health study for Parrot Branch, a local waterway. Initial feedback has already been submitted and planner Tori Kanellopoulos gave the rundown for how planning projects scored.

“The top ranked projects were the Crozet Avenue Shared-Use Path feasibility study, the Three Notch’d Trail feasibility study, and the Route 250 West design guidelines,” Kanellopoulos said. “And then the policy projects were also ranked and the top priority was updating residential zoning designations to allow for more preservation of natural resources.”

Potential capital projects were also ranked. Kanellopoulos said the highest ranking projects are the completion of Eastern Avenue, downtown Crozet intersection improvements, and sidewalk connections. 

Let’s hear more about that Three Notch’d Trail.

“Lately there’s been a lot more focus and attention on the potential Three Notch’d Trail which would ideally connect from the Blue Ridge Tunnel along Crozet and over to Charlottesville,” Kanellopoulos said. “A feasibility study would look at this alignment and there are opportunities to partner with [the Virginia Department of Transportation] and the Planning District Commission and trails groups to look at the feasibility study for the alignment.” 

Supervisor Ann Mallek said later in the meeting that VDOT planning may not have staff to conduct that feasibility study this year, but community work can be done now to prepare for that work possibly in 2022. 

“And the other blessing that goes along with that is 2022 is when [Virginia] is going to take over the rail access right of way from CSX and therefore that increases greatly the possibility that we will be able to have a trail beside the rail,” Mallek said. 

Another “catalyst” project now in the implementation chapter is Western Park, which has long been called for in the plan and for which the county received 36 acres in 2010 as part of the Old Trail rezoning. A master plan for that project was created in 2018 that identified three phases. The first is recommended for funding, a decision which would be made by the entire Board of Supervisors during the budget process.

“This phase one would include the access road with parking, a playground, and additional support of infrastructure and utilities,” Kanellopoulos said.

Committee member Sandy Hausman noted the rankings were based on responses from fewer than a hundred people. 

“I wonder if anybody feels like this there needs to be a bit more outreach, like a mass mailing to everyone who lives in Crozet,” Hausman said. “It just feels to me that this is a relatively small group of people who tend to be paying attention to this stuff and everybody else will be unpleasantly surprised in a year or two when things start happening.”

Committee member Joe Fore said he wanted to see all three phases of Western Park listed as catalyst projects, meaning they would be prioritized first.

“I think just given the fact that it’s been in the works for so long, that the phases of at least getting started, the land is already there,” Fore said. “I understand it’s expensive but it’s not an Eastern Avenue or Lickinghole Creek bridge expensive.” 

Fore also said he would support the creation of a special taxation district to help pay for new infrastructure. The Albemarle Board of Supervisors has previously been briefed on how service districts or a “business improvement district” could be levied in certain areas to fund amenities. 

“I looked through currently, and this may be a comment for the full draft, there’s only one mention of service districts in the entire draft and that’s in reference to funding ongoing activities and services at the plaza and downtown,” Fore  said. “But I would like to see maybe a little bit more and maybe a full suggestion saying maybe this is something we should explore in Crozet to fund some of these capital projects so we’re not constantly having these be projects are ten years out.” 

The Board of Supervisors last had a formal presentation on service districts at their meeting on December 7, 2016. (presentation) (story)

Fore has looked up the section of Virginia code that allows for the creation of such districts.

“It’s a pretty broad statute as I read it,” Fore said. “Things like sidewalks, roads, programming, cultural events, economic development, beautification and landscaping. It’s a very broad statute. It seems to me you could raise money for most of the kinds of projects that we’re looking at.  When we look at the list of priorities and say, yikes! Where are we going to get all the money for this? Well, rather than say let’s raise taxes on everybody in the county, you might be able to say let’s raise funds specifically from Crozet that would stay in Crozet for some of these projects we want to see in Crozet.”

CAC member David Mitchell is skeptical of the idea and said it would lead to Crozet receiving fewer direct funds from the county.

“Over time we will start to be looked at by the other Supervisors as ‘they have their own money, they can do their own thing’ and you’re going to slowly over time lose your share of the general fund,” Mitchell said. 

Supervisor Mallek agreed.

“I would really discourage our citizenry from burdening themselves because I think David is right,” Mallek said. “We need to go to toe to toe, to say, this is a need that’s been on the books.”

Mallek singled out the Eastern Avenue connector road that will provide north-south travel. A major obstacle is the cost of a bridge required to cross Lickinghole Creek. 

“We have made all of these zoning changes prior to 2007 that were counting on that bridge and we absolutely have a moral obligation to build it,” Mallek said.

Eastern Avenue is ranked #8 on the county’s transportation priority list and there was an update in May. There’s not yet a full cost estimate on what it will cost, but engineering work is underway. 

“This project is currently being evaluated through an alignment study and conceptual design which is funded through the Transportation Leveraging Fund in the [Capital Improvement Program],” reads the update. “The alignment report was presented to the Board in January and the preferred alignment was selected. This project is being considered for a Revenue Sharing Grant application.”

Allie Pesch, the chair of the CAC, said she wanted Eastern Avenue to be the top implementation priority.

“I like seeing Eastern Avenue at the top of that list,” Pesch said. “That is a priority for everyone in our area and just so overdue.”

After this discussion of implementation, county planner Rachel Falkenstein turned the conversation to the working draft of the master plan. The draft that will be reviewed by the Planning Commission at their work session on Tuesday incorporates feedback from the June 9 CAC meeting. (download the draft

“We still have a couple of steps to go before we get to our public hearings and we’ll continue to accept feedback and make revisions to the chapters and to the content,” Falkenstein said. 

A work session with the Board of Supervisors will take place in August. (Watch the CAC meeting on YouTube)


A few days after the CAC meeting, the Downtown Crozet Initiative held a public meeting to talk about a 30,000 square foot plaza intended to be located at the former Barnes Lumberyard. The plaza would anchor a mixed-use building and a hotel through a public-private partnership. The idea involves construction of a connector road using revenue-sharing funds from VDOT. That process requires a local match. 

Frank Stoner is a principal at Milestone Partners which seeks to redevelop the space. They’re putting up $2 million to serve as that match. 

“This project started in 2014,” Stoner said. “We developed this road plan in 2016, 2017. Most of the design elements of the road have been resolved. We felt strongly and I think the community felt strongly and the county felt strongly that the streets had to be appropriate for the small town that is Crozet and not be a highway through the middle of downtown which is kind of where VDOT wanted to go with it.” 

In all, VDOT is providing $2.49 million in funds for the road improvements. Milestone is paying $2 million and donating the land for the plaza and roads. The Downtown Crozet Initiative will raise $1.6 million or more to program the plaza. Albemarle County has contributed $1.6 million in cash to the project, and will provide another $1.6 million in rebates through a process known as tax increment financing. (read the June 2019 performance agreement)

Stoner said the idea is to build an urban plaza, not a park. 

“And most importantly we wanted this plaza to be the heart not just of the neighborhood but the Crozet community,” Stoner said. 

CreditDowntown Crozet Initiative

VDOT is contributing $2.5 million and the Downtown Crozet Initiative is seeking to raise over a million in private funds. 

“Which will be used to fund essentially the furniture, fixtures and equipment, sculpture, artwork, seating, all of that kind of stuff that goes in the plaza,” Stoner said. 

The designs aren’t close to final yet, but Stoner wanted to get feedback from the community. There are also no identified tenants for any of the spaces yet. 

“We haven’t really been in the position to take commitments because there have been so many unknowns because of the VDOT plans and then we had some stormwater issues we had to work through and so it has just been one obstacle after another,” Stoner said. 

Stoner said if all goes according to plan, construction could get underway next year. To Stoner, success means making sure it’s a place to expand what already makes Crozet Crozet.

“If we can’t create a place that’s affordable for local businesses, then we’re not going to succeed,” Stoner said. 

In April 2020, the firm Downtown Strategies unveiled their report on a Downtown Strategic Vision for Crozet. Stoner suggested interested parties might take a look. (take a look)

Nearby there is a separate VDOT project to rebuild the existing Square to add sidewalks and address ongoing stormwater issues. (watch the June 14 presentation)

City Council to review Recovery Roadmap on June 21

(This piece originally was included in the June 15, 2021 edition of Charlottesville Community Engagement)

The Charlottesville Economic Development office has been working on a recovery plan for the city, and the Charlottesville Economic Development Authority got a look at their meeting on June 8. Director Chris Engel said his department will seek American Rescue Plan funding from City Council to pay for projects within the initiative. 

“Essentially we met and did a series of outreach efforts including a series of phone calls that was led by Jason Ness on our team with previous recipients of our grants from last year to find out how they’re doing,” Engel said. “We found four basic buckets in which there was desire for additional assistance.

Items in the roadmap include direct financial assistance through continued grant programs and  additional training programs including a “specific hospitality focused training program.” Other ideas include updating maps for business corridors and creating a marketing leverage program. There are also ideas to create new infrastructure.

“One of them is a unique opportunity that is now available to municipalities to seek out what are called designated outdoor refreshment areas,” Engel said. “These are areas where alcoholic beverages can be served in an outdoor environment without putting up the traditional hard barriers that people might be accustomed to for these types of things.”

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