Charlottesville Community Engagement
Charlottesville Community Engagement
January 30, 2023: Charlottesville assessment increase by an average of 12.33 percent; Fewer vacant storefronts across the city

January 30, 2023: Charlottesville assessment increase by an average of 12.33 percent; Fewer vacant storefronts across the city

Plus: Charlottesville Police investigate Saturday night shooting that killed one

This is a Fifth Monday! It seems like just a moment ago that it was the first Monday of 2023. Now we’re in the waning days of this two-faced month and are you ready for whatever comes next? There’s no way to write down all of what has happened in the thirty days since 2022 melted into the past, but the hope of every installment of Charlottesville Community Engagement is intended to capture as much as possible. I’m your contrarian, Sean Tubbs. 

On today’s program:

  • One person is dead after another shooting incident in Charlottesville on Saturday night

  • Real estate assessments go up by double-digits in Charlottesville for the second straight year

  • The number of vacant storefronts is down in some areas of Charlottesville 

  • A local real estate group wants you to learn more about the city’s zoning rewrite

  • The Thomas Jefferson Planning District Commission is awarded more funding to cover the costs of eviction diversion 

  • Charlottesville awards a contract to a Charlotte firm to develop a strategic plan 

While not a daily, Charlottesville Community Engagement has aspirations. Until then, sign up for free to get the four to five posts each week. Mention will be made of the merits payment has toward meeting the goal.

First shout-out: Haven to hold open house on January 30 

In today’s first Patreon-fueled shout-out: The Haven will host its first ever Community Open House today, Monday, January 30! The event is free and open to the public. With the goal of demystifying their work and the experience of homelessness, this will be an opportunity to learn more about what The Haven does and why they do it. Stop by for building tours, small bites, and an informal meet-and-greet with staff. The event begins at 112 West Market Street at 6 p.m. with remarks from the Executive Director at 7:00. 

Register for the event here.

Saturday night shooting on Grove Street kills one person

Another shooting in Charlottesville claimed the life of a 36-year-old man on Saturday night. Charlottesville Police were called to the 1100 block of Grove Street in at around quarter to ten. When they arrived at the scene, they found a man who had been shot multiple times. Eldridge Vandrew Smith was pronounced dead. The incident is being treated as a homicide according to a press release.

Last week, the police reported two other shots fired incidents including one last Monday night at 6th and Garrett in which a “male juvenile” was struck. The boy was taken to the University of Virginia Medical Center and later released. (edited - see comments)

Another incident was reported a few hours later on Oakmont Street in which a 30-year-old woman was struck and taken to the hospital. 

The city maintains an open data portal which includes public safety records. The data table for crime has not been updated since November 9, nor has the accompanying crime map.  The Charlottesville Police Department website now refers people to a new portal called Citizen Connect for additional information. (update: New data for the crime map began populating sometime on January 30, 2023)

Charlottesville real estate assessments up an average of 12.33 percent

For the second year in a row, the average real estate assessment increased by double digits, setting up conversations this week about additional revenue that will be generated for the city of Charlottesville.

Residential parcels increased by an average of 11.52 percent, based on 15,148 taxable properties. Commercial properties went up an average of 12.16 percent, and that includes apartment complexes, retail, and office space. When you throw in new construction, the overall average is 12.33 percent. 

Nearly 98 percent of all properties in Charlottesville went up in value, with just over one percent declining. 

If you are a city property owner and you dispute the increase, the first step is to fill out an Assessment Appeal Application Form. This must be turned in by February 28 and people can make an appeal based on a fair market value claim, a lack of uniformity, or errors in the property description which may have altered the valuation. 

If an appeal is unsuccessful, the next step is to the Board of Equalization. Last year the Board affirmed the assessor’s position in nine of ten appeals, only granting one. (read my story)

The third step is to go before the Charlottesville Circuit Court. More on the city’s assessments as more information is released. 

A snapshot of a spreadsheet from the City Assessor’s office. More to come on the assessments in future editions.

Vacant storefronts filling in at Barracks Road Shopping Center 

The Charlottesville Office of Economic Development keeps track of six areas across the city to see how well storefronts are doing. Filled or empty? The latest figures were released earlier this month. (view the report)

The study looks at the Downtown Mall, the Corner, Barracks Road Shopping Center, McIntire Plaza, Preston Plaza, and Seminole Square. The report only looks at the ground floor and does not include vacancies if a space is being renovated for a future tenant. Vacant office spaces are also not counted.

The January 2023 vacancy report from the Office of Economic Development

Seminole Square Shopping Center had the highest vacancy rate with 5 out of 45 storefronts. Great Eastern Management Company had 13 empty spaces in July 2022, falling from a 24 percent vacancy rate to 11.11 percent. 

Part of the reason is the removal of several spaces that will be converted to residential as part of a mixed-use development that is working its way through the site plan approval process in the city’s Department of Neighborhood Development Services. These include the former Giant space, the former Big Lots, and a former Party Starts Here. (Great Eastern Management presents plans for mixed-use redevelopment of Seminole Square, March 25, 2022) 

The former Chili’s restaurant is being renovated into the Seoul Korean BBQ & Hotspot. A website for the company states it will open in February. There is an existing restaurant in Mason, Ohio. 

Barracks Road Shopping Center had eight vacancies out of 84 stores, equating to a 9.52 percent vacancy rate. That’s down from July 2022 because of several planned new stores including a second location for Brazos Tacos, the conversion of the old CVS space into Great Outdoor Provisions Company, and the arrivals of Fluffy’s Pet Shop, Soma, and a Lovesac showroom

The Downtown Mall had the third highest rate with eight out of 190 spaces vacant, or 4.21 percent. The study reports something called The Green Cauldron plans to locate at 107 West Main Street and that the Draft Taproom at 425 East Main Street is still planning on a return. Their Facebook page has not been updated since they closed for the pandemic. 

Prominent vacancies include the 200 West Market Street building where Fellini’s existed for years, the proposed Dewberry Hotel, the former Atlantic Union Bank at 411 East Main Street, and the former home of Vita Nova. That establishment moved across the street to a space that used to be the Impeccable Pig which was a dress shop and not a restaurant. 

Vacancies in Barracks Road include the former locations of SimplyMac, Sweet Frog, and Bubbles Salon. 

There were no vacancies on the Corner, Preston Plaza, and McIntire Plaza according to the report. 

The Corner had several vacancies in July but the city expects new tenants soon. The former Juice Laundry is now a Carytown Tobacco. 

Read the study for the full definitions for each geographic location. The city does not look at West Main Street. 

Second shout-out goes to Camp Albemarle

Today’s second subscriber-supported public service announcement goes out to Camp Albemarle, which has for sixty years been a “wholesome rural, rustic and restful site for youth activities, church groups, civic events and occasional private programs.”

Located on 14 acres on the banks of the Moorman’s River near Free Union, Camp Albemarle continues as a legacy of being a Civilian Conservation Corps project that sought to promote the importance of rural activities. Camp Albemarle seeks support for a plan to winterize the Hamner Lodge, a structure built in 1941 by the CCC and used by every 4th and 5th grade student in Charlottesville and Albemarle for the study of ecology for over 20 years. If this campaign is successful, Camp Albemarle could operate year-round. Consider your support by visiting

Realtor group seeks greater awareness of Charlottesville zoning rewrite 

This week the first concrete details of the city’s next zoning code will be released to the public. The work is part of the Cville Plans Together initiative which has already resulted in an Affordable Housing Plan and a new Comprehensive Plan. Now, the Charlottesville Area Association of Realtors has mounted a new campaign to promote what they see as a way toward more affordable places to live. 

“To make Charlottesville more affordable, we need to make housing more livable,” reads the first line of the public service announcement. 

The message is that allowing more density will translate into more affordable price points. 

“So as soon as you’re able, see how the Charlottesville zoning plan will make our city more affordable and livable,” the message continues with a directive to visit the Cville Plans Together website

CAAR also keeps track of home sales in the area. According to their December 2022 report, only 39 homes sold in Charlottesville in 2022 compared to 55 in 2021. 

A map from the Charlottesville Area Association of Realtors December 2022 report (view the report)

The median sales price increased from $406,000 to $468,000. One prominent example of the increase in valuation is the $270,000 sale of a duplex in the Orangedale neighborhood on December 19. That unit had been purchased in June by an entity called Aspiring Developments who bought it for $140,000.

What to expect next? Last week, the city’s Director of Neighborhood Development Services sent me this email. 

“The first module or portion of the draft zoning ordinance will include all of the zoning districts, the land use table and the zoning map. So the district implementing that land use category will be included,” wrote James Freas. “The second module we release will have the development standards, so everything on lighting, landscaping, signage, etc – which will be important to understanding how development might occur there.” 

TJPDC gets $275K for eviction diversion program

Earlier this month, Governor Glenn Youngkin’s office announced the distribution of $2.9 million in grants across Virginia for programs to help keep people from being evicted from their homes. That includes an additional $275,000 for the Thomas Jefferson Planning District Commission for another year of work. (view the TJPDC Eviction Reduction Pilot grant page)

“Funding will support an Eviction Case Management Program at the newly created Financial Opportunity Center / Housing Hub as well as the creation of an eviction prevention case manager position,  a second landlord navigator position and an additional court navigator position,” reads the press release. 

This is the third round of funding for TJPDC for this program, which dates back to legislation in the special session of the 2020 General Assembly that directed the Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development to create a program to assist people in the immediate wake of the economic downtown associated with the beginning of the pandemic. The TJPDC won one grant to write up a local pilot. 

“The purpose of this pilot program is to create a local/regional coordinated systems approach to effectively prevent evictions,” reads the TJPDC’s website. “When evictions cannot be prevented, the system must also include how to divert evictions once the household has received an unlawful detainer.” 

The idea is to help people who are in danger of being evicted to get assistance early in the process. 

A second grant of $250,000 to the TJPDC allowed the Piedmont Housing Alliance to hire two new positions for their Financial Opportunity Center who would work directly with landlords. Other funding would go to direct financial assistance to “qualified community members.” 

The manager of the Financial Opportunity Center is Dave Norris, a former Charlottesville Mayor seeking the Democratic nomination for the vacant House District 54 seat. 

The TJPDC’s award was one of nine across Virginia and the only one in the Fifth District. Learn more about the others on the DHCD websiteAn updated version of this story is posted on Information Charlottesville.

Learn more about the eviction diversion pilot program on the TJPDC website.

City hires Charlotte firm to guide new strategic plan for local government 

The city of Charlottesville has selected a firm to work on a strategic plan. The Raftelis Financial Consultants of Charlotte, North Carolina will work on the document that is intended to guide the activities of the city’s government. The existing plan was extended after FY20 due to the pandemic and a series of departures by city managers. 

“The process will be closely coordinated with and guided by a Strategic Plan Working Group comprised of City staff members,” reads a request for proposals issued on November 9. “The Working Group envisions a highly engaged consulting role that is deeply involved in gathering, processing, and summarizing the information generated by various consultation and participation processes.”

The consultant will be required to facilitate a strategic planning retreat and work on a plan with goals for calendar years 2023 through 2025. 

Reading material:

Housekeeping for #490

So, after two and a half years, one thing that has eluded me is a regular schedule. My hope is to eventually have this be a daily that comes out at a set time. But the way I work has a gravity that doesn’t easily cleave to the same rotation that gives rise to the solar day. 

This particular episode was at one point coming out on Friday. Then Saturday. Then today as early as possible. One thing I’m hopeful to do is hire some people to help as soon and when that happens, there will likely be more regularity. I’m now doing a weekly piece on land use and real estate for C-Ville Weekly and the discipline of doing that is going to eventually lead to the regularity.

My ability to get there depends on paid subscriptions and I’m grateful for the nearly two dozen for January so far. I’m a start-up, so to speak, and I really appreciate those who are helping me continue to wind the gears so that as many people as possible know what’s happening. 

And of course, Ting will match your initial payment. Hooray for Ting! 

Want to upgrade your internet so you can download things faster? 

If you sign up at this link and enter the promo code COMMUNITY, you’ll get:

  • Free installation

  • A second month for free

  • A $75 gift card to the Downtown Mall

Thanks as always to Wraki for the incidental music, as well as to the Fundamental Grang for the tinkering soundbites that punctuate the segments in the podcast. Sometimes, I say things at the end of the podcast you won’t read. Did I read this one verbatim today? You’ll have to check for yourself. No cheating using artificial intelligence! 

Charlottesville Community Engagement
Charlottesville Community Engagement
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.