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June 22, 2010

Avon Street corridor to get “fresh eyes” from national planning think-tank

Reader comments (0) By Sean Tubbs
Charlottesville Tomorrow
Tuesday, June 22, 2010

20100622-Avon-Corridor
The ULI study may give hints as to how to coordinate a new  Belmont Bridge with several parcels set for redevelopment near downtown
An international non-profit organization that promotes compact land use practices is set to study possibilities for redeveloping Charlottesville’s Avon Street corridor. City Council approved a resolution Monday allowing staff to negotiate with the Urban Land Institute (ULI) on a spring 2011 study that could cost between $10,000 and $15,000.

“We think we can use [the ULI study] to get some good ideas about bike-pedestrian connections from Belmont to the downtown,” said Jim Tolbert, the city’s director of neighborhood development services. 

Officials with the ULI’s Richmond office recently contacted Tolbert to find out if they required any technical assistance on any upcoming redevelopment projects.

Tolbert said the Avon Street corridor was chosen for the ULI study instead because of several factors. The Belmont Bridge replacement project is being designed. The Charlottesville Redevelopment and Housing Authority is set to purchase a parcel of land at the corner of Avon and Levy.  The recent demolition of the former Charlottesville Lumber/Better Living Mill building leaves a major parcel of land ripe for redevelopment.

Mayor Dave Norris encouraged Tolbert direct the ULI team to consider how Friendship Court and other properties near Avon Street could be tied in as they are considered for redevelopment. 

“That’s not technically Belmont or Avon Street  but it’s part of the whole pattern of development,” Norris said.

Tolbert agreed Friendship Court could become part of the study, which will be conducted over the course of two days next spring. The ULI experts will then deliver a written report within two months of their visit.

Tolbert said he and his staff first considered a study of Cherry Avenue. That corridor
was zoned for mixed use development when the city’s zoning ordinance was rewritten in 2003 to promote higher density.

“We decided we could do better work in house and do it quicker,” Tolbert said. He added he will bring a proposal before the Planning Commission before the end of the summer.

One councilor, Holly Edwards, said she looked forward to the City’s study of the corridor.

“[Cherry Avenue] has been neglected for too long,” Edwards said.

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