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Riverbend Development has owned a 6-acre chunk of land in downtown Belmont since 2006, before many of the restaurants existed that made downtown Belmont an attraction. 

When Charlottesville began updating the future land use map in its Comprehensive Plan in 2017, many places were colored red and purple on the draft to allow higher intensity development like apartments. Riverbend’s parcel however was shaded light orange for low-intensity development — less valuable than the current zoning. 

In the uncertainty of whether a request for more density would be approved, Riverbend submitted a by-right application to be approved by city staff. Riverbend submitted a fourth version of this proposal in late August that responded to staff comments. The application proposes one commercial building on Carlton Avenue and 130 apartments divided between two four-story buildings.

Riverbend has previously floated the idea of applying for a special-use permit to add more apartments than the current zoning allows. In exchange for the units, Riverbend suggested that 25 or more of the roughly 70 additional units would be affordable or that the company could build a pedestrian bridge over the CSX railroad tracks, which would decrease the number of affordable units. 

Adjacent property owner Deb Jackson wondered whether any of the units in the by-right plan would be affordable since it was not mentioned in the application.

“Affordable housing is a key priority for Charlottesville,” Jackson said by email. “I understand that this is currently a by-right property development and as long as the plans meet city codes, there is no obligation on the part of the developer to amend the plans.”

Riverbend is responsible for 5th St. Station and is the developer for the first phases of Charlottesville’s public housing redevelopment. The city is in the process of hiring a consultant to finalize its Comprehensive Plan update.

  • location: intersection of Garden Street and Carlton Avenue
  • scale: two four-story apartment buildings and a two-story commercial building, total of 130 apartments
  • affordability requirement: none
  • amenities: clubhouse, pool, trails, 235 parking spaces, storage for 83 bikes
  • next steps: review by city staff, no public hearings required

Planning Commission: UVa rehab hospital appropriate for northern Albemarle

The University of Virginia is moving its rehabilitation hospital from Fontaine Avenue to the UVa Research Park north of the Charlottesville-Albemarle Airport. 

The UVa Encompass Health Rehabilitation Hospital offers physical and speech therapy and treats conditions like Parkinson’s disease and spinal cord injuries. Constructing a new building in the research park allows the hospital to expand from its current 50-bed facility. 

On Tuesday, the Albemarle County Planning Commission decided that the hospital was appropriate for northern Albemarle and consistent with the county’s Comprehensive Plan. Medicine is one of Albemarle’s target industries, and the research park has been planned to be an employment center.

  • address: UVa Research Park, near Hollymead Fire Station
  • scale: one-story, 70-bed hospital, about 165 employees
  • amenities: outdoor courtyard, 160-space parking lot
  • next steps: no Board of Supervisors approval required, construction expected to begin April 2020 
Looking from Breezy Hill Lane towards Charlottesville in early October. Credit: Credit: Emily Hays/Charlottesville Tomorrow

Village of Rivanna development to come back to Planning Commission

Southern Development’s Breezy Hill subdivision plans will likely have to change to win county approval. 

Charlie Armstrong, of Southern Development, told the Albemarle County Planning Commission on Tuesday that he was asking to defer their vote on the plans to address surprises in the staff report.

The report recommended that the commission deny the rezoning, based on an earlier work session with the commission. The report states that the density exceeds recommendations in the Comprehensive Plan and the developer does not adequately address traffic and school impacts.

  • address: Breezy Hill Lane, south of U.S. 250
  • scale: 160 single-family, and potentially attached, homes on 84 acres
  • amenities: walking trails
  • price range: more expensive than previous 200-home proposal
  • affordability: sell or rent 24 homes to families making 80% of the area median income, or pay $507,000 to the county or a nonprofit instead
  • next steps: Albemarle Planning Commission public hearing 
The draft form-based code would regulate how the IX property redevelops. With parking garages incorporated within each building, the IX property could include commercial space and 2,000 apartments. Credit: Credit: DPZ CoDesign

Council initiates form-based code adoption

The city’s process of deciding whether to adopt form-based code for its southern downtown area has begun. During Monday’s City Council meeting, Mayor Nikuyah Walker asked to vote on the code initiation separately from the rest of the consent agenda. It passed, 4-1, with Walker opposed.

The form-based code offers developers a checklist of things the community wants, including where new parks should go and what buildings should look like. In return, developers do not have to go to City Council for a vote on their projects. Some advocates oppose the code and have concerns about what these changes might mean for low-income residents of the area.  

  • location: between the CSX railroad tracks and Elliott Avenue
  • cost: $311,000
  • next steps: joint City Council-Planning Commission public hearing in November 
Grant Duffield listens to Westhaven resident Joy Johnson after a Charlottesville Redevelopment and Housing Authority meeting in May 2016. Credit: Credit: File photo

Housing authority director to leave for Newport News

Another Charlottesville Redevelopment and Housing Authority executive director is stepping down from the position.

CRHA announced on Wednesday that Grant Duffield has resigned to take a position overseeing the rebuilding of housing and opportunities for the Marshall-Ridley Choice Neighborhood in Newport News. Under Duffield, the CRHA won funding to redevelop Crescent Halls and build new housing on South First Street. 

The CRHA Board of Commissioners is scheduled to meet with the Center for Nonprofit Excellence on Saturday to create a transition plan. The board is expected to announce that plan on Monday at its regular meeting. Duffield’s final day is Nov. 22. 

Duffield started in 2016. The previous executive director had left after four years in the job. 

  • annual salary: $107,495
  • next steps: CRHA Board of Commissioners meeting on Monday

Emily Hays grew up in Charlottesville and graduated from Yale in 2016. She covered growth, development, and affordable living. Before writing for Charlottesville Tomorrow, she produced a podcast on education and caste in Maharashtra, India.