Council considers Charlottesville housing renovations

Investors, locals may clash; Charlottesville Public Housing Authority of Residents looks to protest residents' interests

Charlottesville City Council has hired a team of consulting architects to evaluate whether several public housing projects and a private apartment complex in the city would benefit from redevelopment and structural improvements. The areas being evaluated are between Avon Street and Ridge Street, bounded by the Downtown Mall on the North and continuing just past Elliott Avenue on the South.

The Charlottesville Public Housing Authority of Residents is taking an active role in any redevelopment projects in the area to make sure residents have an opportunity to voice opinions before any changes are enacted.

“This is something that is going to affect residents’ public housing, and we need to make sure that what [City Council] does is something they want to happen,” PHAR Organizer Brandon Collins. “We know that they will come up with ideas that will not benefit people overall. We need to be there to make sure residents have a clear, strong voice.”

Architects did a first round sight tour of the area to evaluate any physical barriers to redevelopment and to locate spots which will require more attention, Collins said.

“It is a big area,” said Collins. “They’re looking to improve connectivity and to develop the area to provide some more economic opportunity for people in this area.”

Council will be creating a steering committee full of local residents to see whether or not they support changes to the area. Collins said PHAR would make sure resident involvement “is more than just rubber stamping.”

Residents’ voices must be legitimately considered by Council because some players in the redevelopment project may have interests at stake that rival those of the area’s residents, Collins said. But so far, the project architects have been very honest with the people involved with the study, he added.

“There are a lot of development and business folks who want a chunk of land to make money,” said Collins. “They will come up with these ideas and sell them to residents to get people behind it, and we can’t let people be fooled by this. There are lots of big interests in this that need to be balanced by the interests of the residents in the neighborhood.”

Collins believes the final recommendation will be ready by June. The report will provide a planned course of action for redevelopment, including zoning proposals.

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