By Sean Tubbs

Charlottesville Tomorrow

Tuesday, March 1, 2011


Charlottesville Redevelopment and Housing Authority

and the City Council have agreed on a partnership to redevelop the city’s public housing sites.

“It’s going to be a larger community revitalization effort that is going to positively impact everyone in the city,” said Amy Kilroy, the redevelopment director for the CRHA.

The CRHA is a separate public entity that maintains 11 public housing units spread across the city. Many of the sites are in need of major renovations.

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In August, the authority’s board of directors approved a

master plan for redevelopment

that had been worked up by the firm Wallace, Robert and Todd. The plan generally calls for increased economic diversity and additional housing density by adding mixed income units. While the number of subsidized units would remain fixed at 376, as many as 720 total units might be built on CRHA property. Cost estimates range from $115.8 million and $150.8 million, depending on how the sites are developed.

“We all agree this is important, but we have to find a way to pay for it,” said City Manager

Maurice Jones


To formalize the partnership, City Council and the CRHA board will sign a memorandum of understanding that sets out the parameters of the collaboration.

Page from the master plan showing three options for the Levy Avenue site. Click to enlarge. (Source: Wallace, Roberts & Todd)

This MOU confirms that the first phase of redevelopment will be to develop a site on Levy Avenue near Avon Street, as well as the renovation of the Crescent Halls complex on Monticello Avenue.The plan depicts 3 options for development of Levy Avenue, ranging from 36 to 80 units.

The agreement calls for a six-month study period to work out the details to put the master plan in motion.

“The plan is really strong on concepts and the big picture vision, but not as much time has been spent on implementation,” Kilroy said.

“It’s our hope that through this process that we can flesh out the details and identify who else needs to be at this table,” said Melissa Celii Thackston, a grants coordinator with the city.

According to Kilroy, the Levy Avenue project is on hold while the CRHA waits for the results of a grant application. She said the city and the CRHA would be notified by late March if they are the recipients of a HUD “Choice Neighborhoods” grant.

Joy Johnson, a CRHA board member who represents public housing residents, said no matter how redevelopment is implemented, the city and CRHA must uphold a bill of rights approved by the council in December 2008. The document guarantees that residents displaced during reconstruction will have another place to live in the interim.

“I would like to make absolutely sure that some of that money is going into the relocation phase,” Johnson said.

City Councilor

Holly Edwards

asked if the MOU could serve as an official apology for the urban renewal that served to create the public housing system in the first place. Residents of the razed Vinegar Hill neighborhood were the first tenants.

CRHA Chair Bob Stevens

Edwards’ idea was tabled, but CRHA Chair Bob Stevens said the entire redevelopment process would help heal the community.

“Our redevelopment process is a great way to redress the past wrongs the city has done,” Stevens says. “When we started redeveloping, it was right around the same time as massive resistance. The sixties and early seventies were an ugly period for Charlottesville.”

Council will vote on the MOU at its next meeting.

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Charlottesville Tomorrow

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