Aug 24, 2021 • 15M

August 24, 2021: Piedmont Housing pitches Park Street projects; HAC members discuss housing plan implementation

in this installment of Charlottesville Community Engagement, we travel to events on August 10 and August 17 in order to get ready for future discussions about housing.

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Regular updates of what's happening in local and regional government in and around Charlottesville, Virginia from an award-winning journalist with nearly thirty years of experience.
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On today’s show:

  • A preview of two Piedmont Housing Alliance projects that go before Charlottesville’s Planning Commission today 

  • Updates on UVA housing initiative and the Charlottesville affordable housing plan at recent Charlottesville Housing Advisory Committee meeting

In today’s Patreon-fueled shout-out: Help support black-owned business in the Charlottesville area. Check out the Charlottesville Black Business Directory at cvilleblackbiz.com and choose between a variety of goods and services, ranging from beauty supplies, professional services, and e-commerce. Visit cvilleblackbiz.com as soon as you can to get started!


The Virginia Department of Health’s COVID tracker is functional again and today the agency reports another 3,027 cases and the seven-day percent positivity of test results is 9.7 percent. Nationwide, over 150,000 COVID cases have been reported. There are 43 new cases in the Blue Ridge Health District where the percent positivity is 5.1 percent. 


The rest of today’s stories are all about housing. 

Tonight, the Charlottesville Planning Commission will hold a preliminary discussion on two rezoning proposals from Piedmont Housing Alliance to build a variety of affordable housing types. (meeting info)

In one, 50 age-restricted units would be built on undeveloped land at the Park Street Christian Church, and in the other, 95 units would be built on the campus of the Monticello Area Community Action Agency. Both projects have been designed by BRW Architects and engineered by the Timmons Group. There was a community meeting for the two rezonings on August 10. Let’s hear about the Park Street Christian Church first from architect Bruce Wardell.

“The property itself is at the edge of a fairly well-organized neighborhood,” Wardell said. “The church for those of you who are familiar with the site, the church sort of sits at the top of the site and the land slopes down pretty steeply to Park Street.”   

They’ll also need a rezoning to Planned Unit Development as well as a sidewalk waiver to avoid having to build a pathway on the eastern side of Park Street.

“In order to build a sidewalk along that edge of the property, you would need to disturb a fairly significant part of that, the woods and the wooded areas coming down to that side of the street,” Wardell said. 

The 50 housing units themselves would be built on an area in between the church and Park Street. 

“These buildings will be essentially invisible from the neighborhood,” Wardell said. “They avoid the critical slopes.” Wardell said. “This will be 100 percent affordable housing for seniors. It will be targeted at 60 percent of the area median income or below, which in this area is an annual salary of about $45,000 for a total of two. And the structure of this is that the rent would be about 30 percent of their monthly income.”

Credit: BRW Architects

The second Piedmont Housing Alliance project that will be before the Planning Commission also involves BRW and Timmons, but also includes Habitat for Humanity of Greater Charlottesville. Wardell said providing affordable housing units is one goal. 

“And some mixed-use, and some market rate homes, and some Habitat homes in the project,” Wardell said. 

In order to secure Low-Income Housing Tax Credits to finance the project, rezoning approval needs to be in place by next march in order to meet a deadline from the entity formerly known as the Virginia Housing Development Authority. 

“We have current zoning that’s there but as everyone knows we are also in the middle of a very enthusiastic discussion about future land use and future zoning in the city,” Wardell said. “Currently the site is zoned R-1.”

The draft Future Land Use Map depicts the land as neighborhood mixed-use node. The application is for Planned Unit Development, a district that would be customized for the site. 

“There will be 85 affordable units, eight market rates, two existing market rate homes that are the existing homes, and then there’s affordable homeownership which is part of it which is 20 townhomes and duplexes which will be focused on 30 to 60 percent of the area median income,” Wardell said. 

Tonight’s discussion before the Charlottesville Planning Commission is a preliminary one. 

Credit: BRW Architects


You’re reading Charlottesville Community Engagement and it’s time now for another reader-supported announcement. 

The nonprofit group Resilient Virginia works to inform decision makers and officials about how to prepare for a changing world. They’re holding their annual event virtually this year and I’ll have a few stories from it. But, you have the chance to attend! The Resilient Recovery Conference will take place the mornings of August 25, August 26, and August 27. Take a look at the details of the event as well as pricing at resilientvirginia.org


Moving ahead now to a week later, when the Charlottesville Housing Advisory Committee met for what chair Phil d’Oronzio said would be a light agenda. The meeting was filled with information, however. Looking ahead to a week from today, outgoing Neighborhood Development Services Director Alex Ikefuna gave an update on the development of the Future Land Use Map and the Comprehensive Plan. 

“There is a work session scheduled with the Planning Commission on the 31st of this month,” Ikefuna said. “Subsequent after that work session there will be a meeting with the Steering Committee, and there may be some more changes based on the feedback from the Planning Commission on the 31st of this month.”

The material for that meeting is not yet available. You can register in advance, though. 

The City Council and Planning Comprehensive Plan will hold a joint meeting in October at which they are expected to make a recommendation to the elected officials. 

“We’re looking at completing all this before Christmas, and hopefully Council will get to take a shot on the adoption of the Comprehensive Plan at some time between November ending and Christmas,” Ikefuna said. 

After that, the Cville Plans Together initiative will turn to a rewrite of the zoning ordinance. In March, the Council adopted an affordable housing plan that influenced the development of the Future Land Use Map and will do the same with the zoning code. 

The HAC also got a brief update on the University of Vir ginia’s pledge to build up to 1,500 affordable homes on land that either it or its real estate foundation owns. The campaign kicked off a public input session in April, as I reported back then. UVa has hired Northern Real Estate Urban Ventures to conduct the work with principal Gina Merritt leading the initiative. Alice Raucher is the Architect at the University of Virginia.

“We have kicked off a listening tour with Gina with two goals,” Raucher said. “To perform the development principles that will guide the developer’s work and to understand where UVA’s initiative can fit in and be complementary to existing efforts in the city and the county.”

Raucher said they’ve listened to dozens of groups and individuals, and several themes are emerging. 

“There may be funding gaps even with Low Income Housing Tax Credits and we need to figure out what the University will do about that,” Raucher said. “We don’t have an answer just yet.”

Raucher said the consultant team has been doing due diligence on land owned by the University or its Foundation

“Our findings will be discussed internally and with the advisory group and more information will be shared publicly this fall,” Raucher said. 

UVA will contribute the land and a third party developer will actually build the units. More information can be seen on the project’s website.

As mentioned, the City Council adopted an affordable housing plan in March. Some next questions are how it will be implemented and how that implementation will be measured. A draft spreadsheet was discussed. (draft spreadsheet)

“The idea here is that this is a useful base of operations and as we build out and fill this out it’s going to produce the need for specific work product as we move forward,” said HAC Chair Phil d’Oronzio. 

The current draft is not an official tool but one governance recommendation is for the city to hire a housing coordinator to oversee all of the various initiatives underway. The spreadsheet assigns that goal to Sam Sanders, the new deputy city manager. 

Under funding recommendations, is this specific goal:

“Dedicate $10m per year to fund affordable housing to: 

1) increase the # of subsidized affordable homes by 1,100 homes (on top of an existing stock of 1,630 actively subsidized homes)

2) preserve 600 existing subsidized affordable homes

3) stabilize 1,800 to 2,200 owner and renter households facing housing instability

But, who should be tracking the information? As mentioned, the city has not had a housing coordinator for a year. The last person who had that role now runs the Charlottesville Redevelopment and Housing Authority. The person before that now is Albemarle County’s housing coordinator.  Sam Sanders just started work, and Ikefuna’s replacement doesn’t start work until September. City Council has spent about $165,000 to create an inclusionary zoning program and to track funding spent through the existing Charlottesville Affordable Housing Fund. Who’s doing the tracking of implementation now?

HAC member Dan Rosenweig is also president and CEO of Habitat for Humanity of Greater Charlottesville. 

“In a really general sense boiled down I don’t know that we have many other options other than to jump in and support staff as our senior leadership team in the city rebuilds the infrastructure in City Hall, adds people at staff on the housing side,” Rosensweig said. 

Sanders welcomed assistance from members of the HAC, especially in terms of potential recommendations for next year’s budget. 

“Being perfectly honest with you and trying to remain a straight shooter that I promised to always be, if I had to timeline this, and have staff handle it, we probably would not have it done by the end of the year,” Sanders said. 

For the full story, watch the entire meeting, which is under an hour. Take advantage of these meetings being virtual while it lasts, because otherwise you’ll have to attend in person. (watch the video)

Thanks again for reading! Please forward on to someone you think might be interested.