Credit: Albemarle County

Reinforces partnership with Habitat for Humanity of Greater Charlottesville and commitment to expanding affordable housing in the County

On Wednesday night, the Albemarle County Board of Supervisors unanimously endorsed an action plan for the redevelopment of the Southwood Mobile Home Park (Southwood). The action plan, now approved, authorizes the creation of multiple teams with the depth of knowledge and expertise to successfully implement the collaborative redevelopment project. With the endorsement comes $675,000 in funding to Habitat to provide the necessary support to continue development and submission of the Phase I, involving planning and project management, rezoning application and to match with ongoing grant applications. The funding will allow for the creation of documents and drawings leveraging significant public and private funds for architecture, engineering, and implementation.

In October of 2016, the Board of Supervisors adopted a resolution that sanctioned a cooperative redevelopment process for the Southwood Community, and triggered a unique private-public partnership. The resolution provided a clear and compelling indication of the Board’s support for staff’s proactive involvement with Habitat in the preparation of development plans and specific land use proposals associated with the Southwood project. This partnership between Albemarle County and Habitat for Humanity of Greater Charlottesville (Habitat) recognizes that the success of sustainable, holistic redevelopment of Southwood, our community’s largest concentration of affordable housing, depends on multi-sectorial coordination and support.

Since the passage of the resolution, staff from multiple County operating departments, including Community Development, Economic Development, Housing, Social Services, Parks and Recreation, Facilities and Environmental Services and the County Executive’s Office, have actively engaged with representatives of Habitat on creating a partnership to address the needs and opportunities in Southwood. County and Habitat staff have been working alongside residents to understand the vision for the community, develop a process for moving forward, and to work cooperatively toward improving the immediate and long-term quality of life for all Southwood residents.

The complexity, scale and vision of this project requires the investment of policy, planning, direct services, and financial resources to ensure its success. The action plan describes the formation of an executive team and redevelopment teams centered on those four distinct but interrelated areas of the partnership. The five teams will include representation from the County, Habitat, Virginia Department of Transportation, public safety officials, as well as experts in creative funding strategies, design, and engineering.

“This project represents a unique opportunity to make a lasting improvement in the health and welfare of the largest concentration of substandard housing in the County,” said Board Chair Ann Mallek. “Habitat’s plan to remove 341 mobile homes and replace them with safe and affordable structures, while encouraging a community vision and non-displacement of current residents, would be transformative. This project may well serve as a blueprint for future revitalization and redevelopment of the County’s aging urban infrastructure as well as a national model for how to achieve neighborhood redevelopment equitably, sustainably and attractively.”  

Southwood is located in the County’s designated development area on Hickory Street south of I-64 and east of Old Lynchburg Road. There is currently 341 mobile homes and more than 1,500 residents in Southwood, making it the County’s largest concentration of substandard housing. Habitat purchased Southwood in 2007 with a stated intention of redeveloping the site into a 700-800 unit, mixed income, mixed-use development, removing all 341 mobile homes and replacing them with a variety of housing unit types including site-built homes. Habitat has already invested more than $2 million on deferred and emergency maintenance, including road improvements, sewer system upgrades, and emergency repairs.