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The Charlottesville City Council has committed $750,000 to end chronic homelessness in the region. 

Like the Crossings at Fourth and Preston, the “Crossings II” would provide permanently subsidized rent and on-site supportive services like counseling. Some rooms would be dedicated to the chronically homeless and people who have been homeless multiple times or over multiple years, and some would be rented to slightly higher-income earners. At the last count in early 2019, the number of chronically homeless people in the Charlottesville region was 35.

Leroy Barbour said he moved into the Crossings from his brother’s basement when his brother decided to sell his house in Johnson Village. He said he even pays a little less rent per month at the downtown location than he was paying to his brother.

Barbour said that he retired from cleaning the Charlottesville City Schools in 2006 but that he continues to work part-time because he likes to work and be around young people.

“I love it here,” Barbour said, sitting on the stoop. “This is a quiet, decent place.”

The Crossings II is being envisioned on Charlottesville Redevelopment and Housing Authority property. The Crossings II team is resolving questions from public housing residents and advocates about how the project benefits CRHA before the partnership can move forward. 

The City Council voted unanimously in favor of allocating most of this year’s Charlottesville Affordable Housing Fund to the Crossings II after the project is certain. The council voted to give the Albemarle Housing Improvement Program the remaining $42,000 of the CAHF.

  • address: 405 Avon St., 405 Levy Ave.
  • scale: 80 units
  • affordable: to households making 50% of area median income or less, which was $31,300 for a single-person household in 2019
  • total cost of project: $14.3 million
  • next steps: resolve questions for the Charlottesville Redevelopment and Housing Authority
Posters describing the history of Charlottesville’s Vinegar Hill neighborhood cover sections of the construction barricades for the Center of Developing Entrepreneurs on Oct. 11, 2019. Credit: Credit: Emily Hays/Charlottesville Tomorrow

CODE construction barricades honor Vinegar Hill

As workers begin pouring concrete for the Center of Developing Entrepreneurs at the site of the former Charlottesville Ice Park, passersby will be able to read about the history of the neighborhood that once stretched towards the present-day Jefferson School African American Heritage Center.

Vinegar Hill was a predominantly African American neighborhood and business district that was razed for the cause of urban renewal in the 1960s. The educational posters on the construction barricades are temporary, but more permanent markers are also in the works. 

The team behind the CODE tech center has offered their architectural services pro bono as well as potential construction services to create a Vinegar Hill Park. CSH Development President Andrew Boninti, who is leading the CODE development team, said that it makes sense to take advantage of their construction crew before they put the last bricks back. 

The city’s Historic Resources Committee has decided to wait to install the permanent markers until after the mall is repaired, according to a city news release. Boninti said that his team’s offer is still on the table but that they would need to know about new construction plans within the next twelve months.

  • location: between the Omni Charlottesville Hotel and Water Street
  • scale: 500-600 jobs, including several large businesses already in the area
  • amenities: plaza, auditorium, green roof, showers for bikers, lactation room, podcast recording space, food stalls
  • next steps: construction complete by summer of 2021
Molly and Robert Hardie, the owners of Keswick Hall, sit in a renovated room in the hotel on Oct. 9, 2019. Credit: Credit: Emily Hays/Charlottesville Tomorrow

Renovation of hotel and country club Keswick Hall nears completion

Molly Hardie said that she and her husband, Robert Hardie, first became interested in Keswick Hall as a place of escape when they met at the University of Virginia. Hardie’s family’s investment company bought the property in 2012 and the couple became full owners in 2017. 

Keswick Hall made it onto a list of 14 “American castle hotels” by the travel guide company Fodor’s Travel. The Hardies are hoping to maintain the feel of the Italianate architecture and previous owner’s English furnishings while modernizing and brightening the interior.

The hotel closed for the extensive renovations and new construction in 2018. Molly Hardie said that all workers were successfully placed with other employers in the area during renovations except some who chose to retire. 

  • address: 701 Club Drive, Keswick
  • scale: 80 rooms, 198-acre resort
  • amenities: restaurant, golf course, fitness center, infinity pool, spa
  • next steps: reopening in late summer 2020
Kyle Redinger and Shimp Engineering are hoping to create a mixed-use hub at the intersection of Fifth Street and Old Lynchburg Road. Credit: Credit: Emily Hays/Charlottesville Tomorrow

Albemarle commission votes against Royal Fern

Most members of the Albemarle County Planning Commission cannot imagine circumstances under which they would approve developer Kyle Redinger’s Royal Fern project near the intersection of Fifth Street and Old Lynchburg Road.

Commissioners Jennie More, Karen Firehock, Timothy Keller and Bruce Dotson voted against allowing Redinger to change details in his proposal and come back for another vote. Commissioner Pam Riley voted in favor of deferral with the rationale that the developer could come back with a different plan to address traffic and crowding at Cale Elementary School that would be exacerbated by the project.

Much of the discussion focused on the appropriateness of the Planned Unit Development zoning type, but Redinger’s representative Justin Shimp argued afterwards that the commissioners were thinking of the goals of Charlottesville’s PUD zoning.

  • location: intersection of Old Lynchburg Road and Fifth Street Extended
  • scale: up to 300 apartments, condominiums and townhouses, with a maximum height of 50 feet or four stories tall, commercial space
  • affordability: 15% of units built, some for-sale and some rentable at the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development Fair Market Rent (currently $1,082 per month for a one-bedroom apartment)
  • next steps: Board of Supervisors meeting scheduled for Dec. 4 
Heirloom Development is hoping to build a four-story residential building where University Tire and Auto Center is now. The team has not presented building designs yet. Credit: Credit: Bushman Dreyfus Architects

City approves second phase of Six Hundred West Main

Heirloom Development has permission from the Charlottesville City Council to build more rooms per floor into the second phase of the company’s newly completed Six Hundred West Main apartment building.

The councilors discussed how to balance the rationale for the city’s parking requirements – which encourage residents to walk and bike to the neighboring employment centers – with the concerns of the adjacent Starr Hill and Fifeville neighborhoods about new residents’ cars taking the highly sought-after parking on their streets.

Ultimately, the council decided that setting a specific number of parking spots at this point would be arbitrary and set a condition that the city Planning Commission would check to ensure Heirloom had build the maximum number of spaces in its parking deck. 

  • address: 602-616 W. Main St.
  • scale: 55 studio to three-bedroom apartments or condos, ground-floor retail
  • next steps: Charlottesville staff site plan review 

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.