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December 25, 2011

Crescent Hall renovations to kick off public housing redevelopment

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DailyProgressBy Sean Tubbs
Charlottesville Tomorrow
Sunday, December 25, 2011

When the Charlottesville Redevelopment and Housing Authority adopted a master plan for renovations of the city’s public housing stock in 2010, it anticipated that the Crescent Hall complex would not see an expansion in its number of units.

Crescent
Photo credit: Daily Progress

That might now change as the CRHA seeks ways to pay for the redevelopment of all 376 units it oversees in Charlottesville.

“There is a discussion on the redevelopment committee at the housing authority to look at how to leverage private resources at Crescent,” said Mayor Dave Norris at a recent City Council meeting.

Federal funding from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development is decreasing every year. Norris said cities with larger housing authorities have a higher priority when it comes to receiving funds and that the master plan anticipated partnerships with private investors.

“Now there is [talk] about adding additional housing on site, which helps to bring in private capital to do the renovation of the public housing,” Norris said.


Crescent Hall was built in 1976 and has 98 one-bedroom units and seven two-bedroom units. The average monthly rent in 2011 for a one-bedroom unit has been $248. A two bedroom unit is $314.

Norris said Crescent Hall’s proximity to downtown amenities makes it ripe for investment.

The CRHA’s master plan’s first redevelopment action calls for the issuance of a request for proposals for design services for Crescent Hall.

The City Council took that step recently when it allocated $650,000 for the CRHA to hire an architect to produce design and construction documents.

The funding comes from the city’s capital improvement program contingency fund. City Manager Maurice Jones said there is about $3.1 million in the fund for this year.

When added to previously set aside funding, the CRHA now has $800,000 to spend on a request for proposals for architectural firms to design the project.

“I know that sounds like a lot of money but we’re talking about $8 million to $10 million worth of construction when we get to that point,” said Jim Tolbert, the city’s director of Neighborhood Development Services.

The funding would also pay for a second RFP for the development of a lot the agency owns at the corner of Levy Avenue and Avon Street. Tolbert said that project would also require private capital interested in selling market-rate units alongside subsidized ones.

Tolbert said an agreement between the CRHA and public housing residents requires the city to house any displaced residents while renovations are undertaken.

“One of the requirements for relocation is that we have a one-on-one with every tenant that lives there and talk about their needs,” Tolbert said. “There’s an opportunity as we do Crescent Hall to use the Levy site for relocation of the people living in Crescent Hall as that renovation goes forward.”

Private companies, as well as nonprofit groups, will be eligible to submit proposals for how to develop both Crescent and Levy. The winning bidder will have to uphold the requirement that the city maintain all 376 units as public housing.

“In my opinion, what’s not up for discussion and debate are those guarantees on resident participation, one-for-one replacement and right of return,” Norris said. 

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