City Council approves redevelopment plan

New housing south of Downtown Mall to be mix of workforce housing, Galvin says

nscitygraphiccguo

With 340 units of public and assisted housing existing currently, the plan could possibly create 750 new residential units over a 10-15 year period.

Cindy Guo | Cavalier Daily

The Charlottesville City Council unanimously ruled in favor of the implementation of the Strategic Investment Area Plan Monday night that hopes to redevelop a 330-acre area south and east of the Downtown Mall.

The goal of the Strategic Investment Area is to redevelop “existing housing sites, provide the vision for private development and investment, and improve the connections without and within the study area,” according to documents on the City of Charlottesville website.

Councilwoman and Architecture Prof. Kathy Galvin said she has focused on this area since 2010, and while she was a member of the Charlottesville City School Board she applied for multiple government grants to redevelop the neighborhood.

“It clearly is an area that needed attention and a lot of tender loving care,” Galvin said. “Not only in terms of redeveloping public housing but creating a healthy interconnected neighborhood of opportunity.”

Miriam Dicker, director of communications for the City of Charlottesville, said the multiphase project will ensure that the rights of the people currently living in the area are protected.

“The council’s attention is that this area is redeveloped wisely and taking all of those stakeholders into account,” Dicker said.

With 340 units of public and assisted housing existing currently, the plan could possibly create 750 new residential units over a 10-15 year period. Galvin said this new housing would not be public housing but rather a mix of workforce housing — affordable housing for teachers, law enforcement, etc. — and market price housing.

“The goal of all of this is to lift folks out of poverty, get them into a working class [or] middle class part of society, then they’ll be different tiers of housing within the SIA for them to move into so they can stay in their own neighborhood,” Galvin said.

Pete Armetta, president of the Ridge Street Neighborhood Association — a neighborhood that will be highly affected by the changes, said people are not opposed to development but still have some concerns regarding infrastructure such as streets, crosswalks and traffic calming.

“It is an award-winning plan, it’s making it reality that is the challenge,” Armetta said.

The city itself plans to be involved in the implementation of the plan through things such as checklists for developers, public discussions and communicating how the site will look. However, Dickler said the plan has no separate budget.

“There will be things that occur expenses but there isn’t one giant budget for this,” Dickler said. “It’s going to be sort of as we go through and things become priority.”

Galvin said she hopes the redevelopment of the area can attract students as well. This new area will be walkable and bikeable and full of shops and a variety of housing.

“You’re going to get another destination that is as wonderful as the Downtown Mall,” Galvin said.

The Charlottesville City Council will discuss creating a position to oversee this plan Thursday.

related stories