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May 27, 2010

City Planning Commission weighs in on public housing redevelopment plans

Reader comments (1) By Sean Tubbs
Charlottesville Tomorrow
Thursday, May 27, 2010

When the Charlottesville Planning Commission heard details of the Charlottesville Redevelopment and Housing Authority’s (CRHA) master plan for their 376 units of public housing, their primary concern was how the effort would fit in with the goals of Charlottesville’s comprehensive plan.

“These are some of the major opportunities we’re going to have for redevelopment [in Charlottesville],” said Commissioner Genevieve Keller. The topic was on the agenda for the commission’s May 25, 2010 work session.

Listen using player above or download the podcast: Download 20100525-CPC-CRHA-Master-Plan

A map depicting the location of CRHA's sites. Click for a larger image. Visit the CHRA's website to download the draft master plan.

City officials and community members are developing a master plan for the redevelopment of these properties over the next twenty years.  CRHA owns 40 acres of land, spread out over 11 sites in 7 city neighborhoods. The authority also owns one vacant parcel of land on Levy Avenue near downtown which is currently being used as a parking lot for city employees.

The average income for CRHA residents is $11,235 a year. Residents are required to pay 30% of their monthly income towards rent, with a minimum of $25 a month required. CRHA also manages the over 300 federal housing vouchers allocated to Charlottesville.

The redevelopment plans are being formulated in order to replace aging buildings with energy-efficient structures, improve the quality of the neighborhoods, and to allow CRHA to become less reliant on federal funds. That last objective will be met by adding commercial space and market-rate alongside housing for low-income families.

Download Download Amy Kilroy's presentation

“Right now, all of our sites are strictly public housing,” said Amy Kilroy, the CRHA’s director of redevelopment. “After redevelopment is over we’d like to have a mixture of public housing residents… affordable rental units, market rate units and homeownership units all within the same site.”

The firm Wallace Roberts and Todd (WRT) was hired to conduct a study of CRHA’s properties in order to create a master plan to suggest potential futures for the sites. Over 100 community meetings were held to get feedback from residents and members of the development community to come up with ideas.

Last year, the City Council adopted a bill of rights for public housing residents that promises temporary places to stay while are redeveloped.  The document also guarantees that there will be at least 376 units of public housing when work at all sites have been completed.

Many of the sites were built with relatively low-densities, even though underlying zoning would allow for more compact development. For instance, the 25 units at a CRHA site on Sixth Street are spread out over 7.3 acres at a density of 3.42 dwelling units per acre. The land is zoned for a maximum potential of 43 units per acre as part of the Downtown Extended Corridor.

Kilroy said that residents have different views of how to proceed.

“Some residents would like to keep their neighborhoods very similar to what they are now and just improve the units,” Kilroy said. “And then there are some residents that are more comfortable with the idea of adding families to their neighborhood.”



WRT depicted two scenarios for the redevelopment of Westhaven. The top is for less density than the second, but both envision a new connection with Main Street

WRT released a master plan last November that depicted possible ways to rehabilitate or redevelop the sites. After seeing the plans, the CRHA’s Redevelopment Committee asked WRT to develop a new set of drawings that planned for greater density at some locations.  All of the scenarios released are considered drafts at this point. The first two sites to be redeveloped will be the parking lot on Levy Avenue and Crescent Hall.

Even though the plan has not been adopted, CRHA is seeking a budget amendment that would allow them to reprogram $450,000 of funding from current rehabilitation to the purchase of 401 Avon Street. That would allow CRHA to enlarge their property at Levy Avenue site so commercial and office space could be built on a major corridor.  City Council will consider the amendment on June 7, 2010.

Some sites are not targeted for income diversity. For instance, the 105 units in Crescent Halls on Monticello Avenue will be renovated, but no market rate units will be added.  The reason is because the site, which primarily consists of one bedroom units, currently serves the elderly.

The Westhaven site in the 10th and Page neighborhood presents an opportunity to provide more road connectivity to open up that neighborhood to the greater community. Two separate plans have been drawn up for Westhaven which currently has 126 families spread out over 10 acres.

Both would increase the density and add market rate unites. Both also envision the purchase of property on West Main Street, including a parking lot on West Main that the plan envisions as being redeveloped with commercial buildings. 

WRT also developed a new concept for Sixth Street South.Click for a larger image.
Kilroy said her board believes some sites have the potential to add more density near downtown. For instance, CRHA’s site at Sixth Street currently has 25 units, and the first master plan draft released by WRT envisioned raising that number to 40 units. WRT produced a second draft which increased that number to 108 families.

Kilroy said the conversation about the appropriate level of density will continue right on
up until site plans are developed.

“This is one neighborhood where staff anticipates feeling a lot of pushback from residents who live there,” Kilroy said.

“The final master plan is… by no means the end, but where we’ll jump off from for future conversations.”

The master plan process will be ending in the next six to eight weeks, with an additional round of community meetings planned. The entire project could take over twenty years, according to Randy Bickers, the CRHA’s executive director.


  • 01:00 - Presentation begins from Amy Kilroy, CRHA's Redevelopment Director
  • 02:15 - Kilroy explains what CRHA is
  • 03:45 - Kilroy describes why the master planning process is being undertaken
  • 07:30 - Kilroy lists three objectives of redevelopment process
  • 09:10 - Kilroy describes the residents' bill of rights
  • 14:00 - Kilroy updates Planning Commission
  • 15:30 - Kilroy begins describing neighborhoods, beginning with Levy Avenue
  • 17:08 - Discussion of Crescent Halls
  • 20:00 - Commissioner Genevieve Keller asks about Levy Avenue project
  • 29:45 - Commissioner Kurt Keesecker asks about additional buildings called for on Monticello
  • 31:45 - Conversation moves to discussion of Westhaven
  • 51:40 - Conversation moves to South First Street site
  • 54:15 - Keller asks about input from parks and recreation
  • 1:00:00 - Conversation moves to Sixth Street SE site
  • 1:05:30 - Conversation moves to Michie Drive site
  • 1:07:15 - Conversation moves to Madison Avenue site
  • 1:10:30 - Conversation moves to Riverside Avenue site
  • 1:13:00 - Kilroy discusses the role played by the redevelopment committee
  • 1:16:30 - Kilroy describes the next steps with the master plan


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