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February 07, 2012

Council briefed on McIntire Park planning, SRO facility

DailyProgressBy Sean Tubbs
Charlottesville Tomorrow
Tuesday, February 7, 2012

The Charlottesville City Council has not yet weighed in on one question to be answered during the master planning process for the eastern half of McIntire Park.

Should the park continue to have a golf course?

“At some point, we have to make that decision, and I think we might be getting to that point,” Councilor Dede Smith said on Monday after receiving an update on the plan’s progress.

The council’s approval of a plan for the park is not expected until later this year. That will be after both the Parks and Recreation Advisory Board and the Planning Commission have made their recommendations.

Continue reading "Council briefed on McIntire Park planning, SRO facility " »

December 04, 2011

Comprehensive plans seek to address area housing goals

DailyProgressBy Sean Tubbs
Charlottesville Tomorrow
Sunday, December 4, 2011

 As Charlottesville and Albemarle County prepare to update their comprehensive plans, the conversation turned last week to how both communities will meet future housing demands.

“There’s really a need for a diverse mix of housing types in the city and the county,” said Charlie Armstrong, a vice president at Southern Development.

Armstrong was one of several dozen people who attended a workshop on housing held last week by the Thomas Jefferson Planning District Commission.

The TJPDC is helping both communities to prepare for the comprehensive plan review process with a $999,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

20111204-chart1
Source: TJPDC

In Charlottesville, 56 percent of the existing housing stock consists of single-family homes, while multi-unit homes make up 43 percent. One percent live in mobile homes. Three-fifths of housing units are rented and the rest are owner-occupied.

In Albemarle, 73 percent of current homes are single-unit, 23 percent are multi-unit and 4 percent are mobile homes. Two-thirds of Albemarle households are owner-occupied and the rest are rentals.

“This is what we would primarily expect to see,” said Summer Frederick, project manager for the TJPDC’s Many Plans, One Community initiative.

Continue reading "Comprehensive plans seek to address area housing goals " »

November 04, 2011

City Council candidates on promoting employment

image from cvilletomorrow.typepad.com

In the run up to Election Day on November 8th, Charlottesville Tomorrow will once again mail out our in-depth nonpartisan voter guide, featuring exclusive one-on-one interviews with all the candidates for Albemarle County Board of Supervisors and Charlottesville City Council.  In the weeks before the election, we will feature one to two questions a day so that citizens like you can compare candidates’ answers and make an informed choice November 8th.

Charlottesville Tomorrow’s 2011 Election Center website features links to the full written transcript and audio of candidate interviews, as well as links to videos of candidate forums, copies of our 2011 voter guide, information on where to vote, and more.  All the following passages are excerpts from our interviews.

CITY COUNCIL, SIXTH IN A SERIES

image from cvilletomorrow.typepad.comLast month the Charlottesville Regional Chamber of Commerce reported that Charlottesville lost 3,248 jobs during the years 2000 to 2010.  What specifically should city council do to promote employment?


 

Scott Bandy (I) - Challenger

The regulations in this city, and I’m going to borrow from another candidate…Mr. Fenwick… He said at his initial announcement that this isn’t a business-friendly city. It’s not. With regulations in place and ordinances as they are, they are not conducive to businesses, and I mean both commercial and industrial… That has got to be amended, that has got to be addressed, and it’s got to be changed… We are pinched for jobs. People are out there economically hurting like no time before in the history not just of this city, but of this country.

We must do what we can, not just to only encourage entrepreneurs and small businesses, but to be a welcoming place where we can attract those businesses that will complement, not go against, the grain of what this city is. We are a very environmentally conscious city, we are a very knowledgeable city. You can’t ask for a better place to live, but we are struggling. People like I said before are moving not just into nearby counties, but into counties in the region, into counties outside the region, because we are not providing our citizens with sources of income to supplement their families. We are not providing that economic highway to prosperity and self-sufficiency. We must take it head on. We must grab this bull by the horns.

 

Brandon Collins (I) - Challenger

Well it’s a hot topic and I am glad to bring this consistently to council’s attention and I have been raising this a lot in the campaign.  I feel like we have a duty to do everything we can to get people jobs that pay a living wage, and if not, then we have a duty to directly employ those people.  There is a lot of movement in this city to have a much more sustainable city, to improve our infrastructure, improve our neighborhoods, and we can put a lot of people to work doing that.  We can get outside funding to do some of that stuff. 

Overall, I would like to be at a point four years from now where we can begin to consider guaranteeing that every resident can get a job.  The way we can get there is by working to reverse the balance of jobs to workers, providing a lot more jobs, to the point where the market on human labor begins to shift in favor of workers so that all workers are beginning to earn a better wage.

Continue reading "City Council candidates on promoting employment" »

August 09, 2011

Tax credits secured for Woolen Mills senior housing

DailyProgressBy Brian Wheeler
Charlottesville Tomorrow
Tuesday, August 9, 2011

A $1.9 million low-income housing tax credit will provide major support to an affordable housing development for seniors. 
The Jefferson Area Board for Aging is combining a historic home in the city’s Woolen Mills neighborhood with new apartments to create 27 one- and two-bedroom homes. Timberlake Place will also feature a community garden and permanent green space.

20110509-Timberlake
Timberlake-Branham House at 1512 East Market Street

Chris Murray, JABA’s director of business development, said 22 units will be apartments, four will be retrofitted in the existing Mary Williams Community Center and a single market-rate unit will be in the historic Timberlake-Branham home. The Mary Williams Community Center is a 1996 addition to the home.

“We should be able to complete all the legal work by mid-November and then we will start construction in mid-January,” Murray said. “Construction should take ten to twelve months, and we hope to open by mid-2013.”

JABA says tenants must be age 55 and older with low-to-moderate incomes. For income-restricted units, JABA is targeting 40 to 50 percent of area median income. Twenty-percent of the development is intended for workforce housing.

“People who are turning 55 still have a lot of work life,” explained Murray.

20110808-TimberlakePlace2 Murray said Timberlake Place was a $4.26 million project. The tax credits issued by the Virginia Housing Development Authority will provide about $1.6 million in net revenues for JABA. The Charlottesville Housing Fund is investing an additional $500,000 in the development.

“It’s an exciting project and we are very proud to support it,” said Charlottesville Mayor Dave Norris. “It’s one more example of why I and others pushed to increase the size of the housing fund. Before I got on [the city] council we were allocating just a couple hundred thousand dollars a year, now we have substantially increased the size of that fund and it has been used to leverage other sources of funding.”

Norris complimented JABA for the way it worked with the Woolen Mills neighborhood, given the historic nature of the home, originally built in 1886, and some contentious zoning history. In 2007, the neighborhood unsuccessfully appealed a zoning determination that reaffirmed that land around the home lost its “individually protected property” status in the city’s 2003 comprehensive rezoning.

“I think Chris Murray and JABA showed how to do development the right way in the city of Charlottesville,” said Norris. “They took a piece of property that was very contentious in its history…and successfully navigated the neighborhood concerns and worked very closely with them to come up with a project that the neighborhood could support.”

Murray said both sides had to compromise and ended up very satisfied.

“The Woolen Mills Neighborhood Association was very interested in having seniors in their community, but the issue was scale — how to keep it livable while at the same time providing the services seniors need,” Murray added. “They were very cooperative.”

Murray said the neighbors were particularly interested in the community garden and a half-acre designated as an undisturbed wooded area.

“We will have a community garden on site available to both the seniors and the neighbors in the community,” said Murray. “By clustering the buildings we are saving .5 acre of land, and it will remain undisturbed in perpetuity. The Woolen Mills Neighborhood Association would like a conservation easement and we will cooperate with them to make that happen.”

Representatives of the Woolen Mills Neighborhood Association were unavailable for comment on Monday.

[Also see our April 2010 coverage when project was before city planning commission]
20110808-TimberlakePlace1

Timberlake Place rendering by The Gaines Group, PLC 

July 21, 2011

Audio & Video of Charlottesville City Council candidate forum

On July 20, 2011, Charlottesville Tomorrow and The Daily Progress co-sponsored a city council candidate forum for the seven candidates seeking the Democratic Party’s nomination for three of the five seats on Charlottesville City Council.

About 150 people filled the Burley Middle School auditorium to hear the candidates respond to questions posed by the moderator, the audience, and each other.  Read this article for complete coverage by the Daily Progress.

20110720-Forum743x750
Photo by Andrew Shurtleff, The Daily Progress

Listen using player above or download the podcast: Download 20110720-CityDemsForum

Download Download complete transcript (Adobe Acrobat PDF)

The Charlottesville Democratic Party will hold an “unassembled caucus,” also known as a Firehouse Primary, on Saturday, August 20th, from 9am to 7pm at Burley Middle School to select its three council nominees.  One candidate for Clerk of the Charlottesville Circuit Court will also be nominated.

In the primary, Charlottesville Democrats may vote for up to 7 council candidates and rank them by order of preference.  This ranking is to facilitate an instant runoff in the event there is not a simple majority.

The candidate forum participants
  • Paul Beyer
  • Colette E. Blount
  • Brevy Cannon
  • Kathleen M. Galvin
  • James Halfaday
  • Satyendra Huja
  • Dede Smith
  • Brian Wheeler, Moderator

Charlottesville City Council Democratic
candidate forum
from Charlottesville Tomorrow on Vimeo.

 

Quick response topics

MEADOW CREEK PARKWAY
Do you support construction of the Meadow Creek Parkway in the city of Charlottesville, YES or NO?

WESTERN BYPASS
Do you support the Western Bypass route now in place if the state fully funds its construction as well as fully funding other local transportation priorities such as the Belmont Bridge replacement, Hillsdale Drive Extended, Berkmar Drive Extended, the widening of Route 29, and the improvement of the Best Buy ramp to the U.S. 250 Bypass? YES or NO?

WATER PLAN
As the primary approach for adding to our long term water supply, do you favor dredging and water conservation before construction of a new or taller dam at the Ragged Mountain Reservoir, YES or NO?

Moderator questions (each candidate received 3 of the 7 questions)

Transportation
What is your transportation agenda for the city and how will you fund AND implement it? 

City-County relations
Much is made of the status of city-county relationships and the importance of maintaining and strengthening this relationship. On a grading scale of A to F, how would you grade this relationship, and how do you think it can be improved?

Performance measurements for local government
Do you think the city is doing a good job of measuring its performance on the implementation of its vision and council priorities? Would you favor any specific other approaches or methodology?

Water supply
Are you planning to seek a new vote by the council on the previously approved 50-year water supply plan and how would you change the plan, if at all?

Role of City Council
What are the top responsibilities that you believe City Council should be actively and consistently engaged in?

Education
Are you satisfied with the performance of the city schools? How would you support continuous improvement as a member of City Council?

Workforce development / Jobs
What do you see as the best opportunities to develop career-ladder jobs that city residents can pursue?

After the moderator questions, the candidates each answered one question from the audience.  Then each candidate had an opportunity to ask another candidate a question.

 

May 25, 2011

McIntosh enters race for Democratic nomination to Charlottesville City Council

2011-election-DPx476 By Brian Wheeler
Charlottesville Tomorrow
Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Retired attorney Peter McIntosh announced Wednesday that he is entering the race for one of three seats on Charlottesville City Council.  McIntosh said he would seek the Democratic party’s nomination at the unassembled caucus, or “firehouse primary,” to be held on August 20.

20110525-McIntosh(400head) McIntosh, 67, moved to the city in 1975 to accept a job as director of the Legal Aid Justice Center where he provided legal services to low income clients, a position he held for 13 years.  During 1989-2006, McIntosh was an attorney with Michie Hamlett.


Listen using player above or download the podcast: Download 20110525-McIntosh

McIntosh held a press conference outside the Charlottesville Transit Center and told a gathering of media and campaign supporters that he had broad experiences in leadership and community service. 

“I don’t think there was a day in my time, 36 years here, that I wasn’t on one board or another, so I am very adept at working with groups and reaching consensus,” said McIntosh.  “I also practiced mediation for 12 years and that requires you to get both sides to talk to each other in ways that they might not have before.”

McIntosh said his campaign would be organized around several major issues including improving access to “workforce housing,” economic development, and maintaining the city’s AAA bond rating.  In addition, McIntosh called for the city to move forward with the Meadow Creek Parkway, the water plan, and the YMCA facility in McIntire Park.

“I want the city to be looking through the windshield and not the rear view mirror,” said McIntosh.  “I think we need to go forward.  The decisions [past] councils have made were struggles, they were difficult, they had detractors, I understand that…but it’s time to focus on the benefits.”

McIntosh said the Meadow Creek Parkway, which has been almost completed in Albemarle County but not yet started in the city, will provide the benefit of allowing more access to the park.

20110525-McIntosh(400group3 “[We can] create a beautiful garden in McIntire Park and make it our Central Park,” McIntosh said.  McIntosh is on the board of the McIntire Botanical Garden, a project he has encouraged city council to include in the park’s next master plan. 

“The benefit of the water plan is that we will not have to go through the agony of the 2002 drought,” said McIntosh.  “It’s not a matter of if, it’s a matter of when the next drought happens.”

“If the question is between underbuilding or overbuilding [the water supply], I favor the approach the city used in 1966 when they overbuilt, and that water supply has lasted us to this day,” McIntosh added.

McIntosh said he would support dredging of the South Fork Rivanna Reservoir.

“I think maintenance dredging will have to take place,” McIntosh said.  “I think the [University of Virginia] should contribute since their rowing team is one of the prime users.”

McIntosh also said city-county cooperation was “not a choice, it’s an imperative.”

“Now it’s easy to fixate on where the disagreements arise between the city and county,” said McIntosh.  “It is…often forgotten that the city and county cooperate on a wide range of policies and services.”

McIntosh joins Kathy Galvin, James Halfaday and incumbent city councilor Satyendra Huja in the race for the Democratic nomination.  Three other candidates have already announced they are running for city council.  Independent candidates collecting petition signatures to get on the November ballot include Scott Bandy, Brandon Collins, and Bob Fenwick.

Watch the video below:

McIntosh announces campaign for Charlottesville City Council
from Charlottesville Tomorrow on Vimeo.

May 12, 2011

Planning commission concludes critical slopes ordinance review

DailyProgressBy Sean Tubbs
Charlottesville Tomorrow
Thursday, May 12, 2011

The Charlottesville Planning Commission has recommended that City Council approve an amendment of the city’s critical slopes ordinance, despite concerns from some commissioners it would discourage infill development.

The commission voted 4-2 to forward the amended ordinance on to council, ending a months-long review.

“My hope is that this will make for better development and more thoughtful development and I don’t think it [will] have a chilling effect on development,” said Commissioner Genevieve Keller.

However, Commissioner Dan Rosensweig said more study was required before he could recommend approval.

“We might be moving in the right direction, but I don’t think this is fully cooked,” Rosensweig said.

The ordinance was first enacted in 2007 in order to protect waterways by decreasing erosion.

“The ordinance we have now [when] strictly interpreted does not permit any development on slopes of 25 percent or greater at all unless the applicant receives a waiver,” said city planner Brian Haluska. Waivers could be granted if applicants could meet one of four criteria.

Some environmental groups have argued too many waivers have been granted and that an amended ordinance would provide more opportunities for review.

“We believe there are certain natural features, such as steep slopes, that aren’t appropriate for intense development,” said Morgan Butler of the Southern Environmental Law Center. “It’s appropriate to allow for commission review, public input, and possible mitigation before disturbance may be approved.”

Under the amended ordinance, a “critical slope” would be defined as one that has a slope greater than 25 percent and has either a horizontal run of more than 20 feet, is within 200 feet of a city waterway, or contains “significant or unique natural topographical features.”

20110510-Armstrong
Charlie Armstrong uses a cardboard prop to demonstrate what a slope of 25% looks like

During the public hearing, developer Charlie Armstrong objected to that last clause.

“The new ordinance takes [an] engineering standard of review and changes it to a much more subjective and ambiguous review,” Armstrong said. “It’s hard for me to wrap my head around what may or may not be approvable with the new ordinance.”

Armstrong said that would make it less likely for firms to plan for future development because there would not be certainty that a project would be approved.

However, former planning commissioner Bill Emory said the proposed new ordinance was easier to understand and should become the city’s law.

“It’s not like the real estate market is going to collapse … with this [ordinance],” Emory said. “The topographical nature of Charlottesville matters and I think that this critical slopes ordinance certainly addresses that.”

Developer Frank Stoner suggested that a task force was necessary to further study the effects of the ordinance.

“The definition of a critical slope is still inadequate,” Stoner said. “The presumption that a 25 percent slope is dangerous somehow or environmentally unsound probably deserves further debate.”

20110510-Rosensweig
Commissioner Dan Rosensweig studies a map that depicts vacant parcels that have critical slopes

Rosensweig, who is the executive director of the Charlottesville chapter of Habitat for Humanity, said he wanted more information about how the ordinance might restrict infill development, which he said was necessary to create more affordable living choices.

“Let people actually do a study that [investigates] if this is going to affect house prices, is this going to affect regional patterns of development, and if we come back and council is comfortable that the net effects of passing this ordinance is in line with what the comprehensive plan and the [City Council vision] says, then by all means we should pass it,” Rosensweig said.

Rosensweig made a motion to recommend approval of the amended ordinance, but only with the stipulation that such a task force be appointed. The motion failed on a 3-3 vote.

Keller objected to the notion that subjectivity should be avoided in city code.

“I don’t see this as being any more subjective than other things that we do every month, such as assessing the effects of traffic increase on a neighborhood, or whether proffers for affordable housing are adequate,” Keller said. “All of that requires human beings to make judgments based on the information they have.”

A motion to recommend approval of the amended ordinance passed 4-2 with Kurt Keesecker and Rosensweig voting against. Commissioner Lisa Green was not present. City Council will take up the ordinance amendment later this year.

April 21, 2011

Habitat for Humanity seeks more housing for Sunrise Park

DailyProgressBy Sean Tubbs
Charlottesville Tomorrow
Thursday, April 21, 2011

Habitat for Humanity of Greater Charlottesville will ask the city to amend a zoning plan for its redevelopment at Sunrise Park in order to build additional housing units.

Habitat purchased the 16-unit mobile home park in 2005 and worked with Neighborhood Development Services staff on a rezoning proposal for a planned unit development to build sixty homes.

City Council approved the rezoning in November 2009 and ground was broken on the redevelopment project in March.

“We feel that overall we’ve been successful with the project to date,” said Don Franco of Community Results, a firm working with Habitat to develop the plan.  “Habitat has already had 20 partner families that have chosen to live in the community.”

  Sunrise-1
Illustrative drawing of Habitat's Sunrise Park. The potential new section of the PUD is in the lower left-hand corner of the picture. Click to enlarge. (Source: Community Results)

Franco appeared before the planning commission last Tuesday for a preliminary discussion on a potential amendment to expand the PUD to include an adjacent parcel and to accommodate an additional six units.

Habitat purchased the 0.18 acre property from Charles Gentry for $225,000 on February 28. The structure and land had been assessed earlier this year at $165,800.

At the preliminary discussion, no commissioners expressed concern about the additional density.

However, Commissioner Genevieve Keller said she had heard from many Belmont and Woolen Mills residents who are concerned about expansion.

“I can understand why you would have wanted to acquire property when it came available,” Keller said. “But I have received some emails from community people who felt they were being misled [because] Habitat had said they weren’t going to be expanding the project.”

Franco said he did not believe Habitat made any commitment to not expand the site as part as a condition for rezoning. He said negotiations are underway to potentially purchase 1102 Carlton Avenue, but that lot includes one of the city’s individually protected properties.

“Any plans we have for it would incorporate the [Young Building] and preserve the historic structure,” Franco said in an interview.

Commissioner Dan Rosensweig recused himself from the discussion because he is executive director of the Charlottesville chapter of Habitat for Humanity.

The final site plan will be evaluated in several phases, according to city planner Brian Haluska. He said the first phase was approved by staff on April 7, allowing construction of three buildings to move forward. The second is currently under review. The project is expected to be completed in 2013.

Half of the units in the new development will be sold at market rate in order to facilitate a mixed-income level within the community.

 

March 05, 2011

City Manager Jones to present ‘cautiously optimistic’ budget for FY2012

By Sean Tubbs
Charlottesville Tomorrow
Saturday, March 5, 2011

Charlottesville City Manager Maurice Jones will present a proposed $142.9 million general fund budget for FY2012 to City Council Monday night, a 1.55% increase from the current year. 

The city is not recommending any increases in taxes or fees, and there are no proposed reductions in services.

“We’ve developed a budget that takes into consideration where we are economically,” Jones said during an interview Friday.

Download Download proposed city budget for FY2012

“We still have a slowly developing economy so what we’ve tried to do is hold the line on taxes and spending to ensure that we are in a good position to continue to provide the high quality services that folks have come to expect.”

General-fund-summary
(Source: City of Charlotesville) Click to enlarge

Even though residential real estate assessments experienced a slight decline, overall assessments were up 0.63%, generating a projected $800,000 in additional tax revenue.

“We didn’t see as significant a drop in our assessments as we had feared,” Jones said.

The proposed budget consists of a $130.2 million operating budget, a ‘designated budget’ of $12 million (which includes pupil transportation, some capital items, and debt service) and a $716,784 contribution to the city’s economic downturn fund. That last figure is significantly lower than the amount budgeted for the current year.

“We’ve built in the economic downturn fund just in case we suffered a significant drop in state funding or revenues,” Jones said. “Because our departments have returned money back to us, we have not had to tap into those funds.”

As of now, the downturn fund contains $5.5 million, according to Jones. If revenue collections stay on target during the rest of the current fiscal year, the balance will be around $8.3 million.

“At some point Council will have to make a decision as to what to use it for,” Jones said. “Our recommendation would be to utilize it for one-time projects.”

The biggest expenditure change in the proposed FY2012 budget is a $1.7 million increase in the amount of funding to the school division to help fill a budget deficit caused by a reduction in state funding. That’s a 4.34% increase over the current year.

In addition, Jones and Beauregard are recommending a capital improvement program budget of $23.44 million.

Major capital projects include a new Fontaine Fire Station at a cost of $8.75 million. The University of Virginia is contributing $750,000 towards that project. Sidewalks and drainage features will be installed on Old Lynchburg Road at a cost of $3 million.

An additional $300,000 will be spent to design and construct new sidewalks. The city’s tree commission will oversee a $51,500 in funding for urban tree preservation and planning.  Another $1 million will be added to the Charlottesville Housing Fund, but Jones is predicting that will increase before the budget is adopted.

“Council made it clear at the last city council that they wanted us to fund it beyond a million dollars,” Jones said. “Before this budget is approved, we’ll find another $400,000 to add to that.”

Following the presentation Monday night, Council will hold a series of work sessions to review the different areas of the budget. They will hold a public hearing on March 21, a community budget forum on March 23, and a second public hearing on April 4. Council is set to adopt the budget at a special meeting on April 12.

Other highlights in the budget:

  • Budget halves amount to be paid for remediation of Ivy Landfill from $500,000 in current fiscal year to $250,000.
  • The Dialogue on Race has been extended another year at a cost of $90,000.
  • City employees will receive a 2% cost of living increase. Some positions may see a market rate adjustment.
  • $60,000 will be spent to comply with federal mandate that all traffic signs be reflective to increase visibility at night.
  • City will pay a 12% increase in health care benefits.
  • City’s summer youth internship program to be expanded from 90 to 130 youths at a cost of $36,361.
  • Most outside agencies were level-funded. A notable exception is the Charlottesville Commission on Children and Families, which will receive a 13.48% increase to cover additional rent the group has to pay.
  • The Jefferson-Madison Regional Library will receive a 1% increase in funding for a total of $1.382 million in city funding.
  • The SPCA will receive an additional $45,142 for a total of $211,090 due to a 2009 agreement for the city and county to increase funds to operate their facility on Berkmar Drive

March 01, 2011

Details of public housing redevelopment to be studied in next six months

DailyProgress

By Sean Tubbs
Charlottesville Tomorrow
Tuesday, March 1, 2011

The Charlottesville Redevelopment and Housing Authority and the City Council have agreed on a partnership to redevelop the city’s public housing sites.

“It’s going to be a larger community revitalization effort that is going to positively impact everyone in the city,” said Amy Kilroy, the redevelopment director for the CRHA.

The CRHA is a separate public entity that maintains 11 public housing units spread across the city. Many of the sites are in need of major renovations.

Listen using player above or download the podcast: Download 20110228-CRHA-CC

In August, the authority’s board of directors approved a master plan for redevelopment that had been worked up by the firm Wallace, Robert and Todd. The plan generally calls for increased economic diversity and additional housing density by adding mixed income units. While the number of subsidized units would remain fixed at 376, as many as 720 total units might be built on CRHA property. Cost estimates range from $115.8 million and $150.8 million, depending on how the sites are developed.

“We all agree this is important, but we have to find a way to pay for it,” said City Manager Maurice Jones.

To formalize the partnership, City Council and the CRHA board will sign a memorandum of understanding that sets out the parameters of the collaboration.

20110228-CRHA-image
Page from the master plan showing three options for the Levy Avenue site. Click to enlarge. (Source: Wallace, Roberts & Todd)

This MOU confirms that the first phase of redevelopment will be to develop a site on Levy Avenue near Avon Street, as well as the renovation of the Crescent Halls complex on Monticello Avenue.The plan depicts 3 options for development of Levy Avenue, ranging from 36 to 80 units.

The agreement calls for a six-month study period to work out the details to put the master plan in motion.

“The plan is really strong on concepts and the big picture vision, but not as much time has been spent on implementation,” Kilroy said.

“It’s our hope that through this process that we can flesh out the details and identify who else needs to be at this table,” said Melissa Celii Thackston, a grants coordinator with the city.

According to Kilroy, the Levy Avenue project is on hold while the CRHA waits for the results of a grant application. She said the city and the CRHA would be notified by late March if they are the recipients of a HUD “Choice Neighborhoods” grant.

Joy Johnson, a CRHA board member who represents public housing residents, said no matter how redevelopment is implemented, the city and CRHA must uphold a bill of rights approved by the council in December 2008. The document guarantees that residents displaced during reconstruction will have another place to live in the interim.

“I would like to make absolutely sure that some of that money is going into the relocation phase,” Johnson said.

City Councilor Holly Edwards asked if the MOU could serve as an official apology for the urban renewal that served to create the public housing system in the first place. Residents of the razed Vinegar Hill neighborhood were the first tenants.

20110228-Bob-Stevens
CRHA Chair Bob Stevens

Edwards’ idea was tabled, but CRHA Chair Bob Stevens said the entire redevelopment process would help heal the community.

“Our redevelopment process is a great way to redress the past wrongs the city has done,” Stevens says. “When we started redeveloping, it was right around the same time as massive resistance. The sixties and early seventies were an ugly period for Charlottesville.”

Council will vote on the MOU at its next meeting.