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August 09, 2011

Tax credits secured for Woolen Mills senior housing

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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.

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]

Timberlake Place rendering by The Gaines Group, PLC 


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