The area south of the Charlottesville Downtown Mall could transform dramatically in the next few decades with a new kind of zoning reviewed by city officials on Thursday. A consultant team made up of the Form-Based Codes Institute, DPZ CoDesign and Partners for Economic Solutions has been working on a form based code for the city’s designated Strategic Investment Area since 2017. Thursday evening in CitySpace, consultants walked the Charlottesville City Council and Planning Commission through their most recent draft.The process of developing the SIA plan and form based code have not been smooth. The census tract already has seen an increase in white, affluent homebuyers, and organizations like the Public Housing Association of Residents have worried that the code could lead to additional displacement.The city has reacted to that concern by adding a housing analysis and more community engagement specifically with public and subsidized housing residents to the consultants’ task. The housing analysis was much of the focus of Thursday’s meeting. The basic premise of form based code is to incentivize developers to build what the community wants in exchange for a simpler approval process.

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The consultants explained that height bonuses could incentivize a property owner like the owner of the IX Art Park, for example, to build 2,093 apartments and make 147 of them affordable to families making $54,000, or 60% of area median income. A specific tax structure on the property could pay for vouchers to supplement the rents of another 99 families at that income level. The consultants stressed that the code is not an affordable housing policy and cannot make the finances work out so private developers build housing for extremely low-income people.The code would regulate the appearances of buildings, make the streets more walkable and design where a new park would go. The alternative is the area’s current zoning, which heavily restricts housing and allows nine stories by-right if a small portion is commercial, according to the consultants.The consultants will incorporate more community input into a final draft. Community members can provide feedback on the plan during open houses in early September.

  • location: Charlottesville’s southern downtown area, centered around Friendship Court and the IX Art Park
  • cost of code: $311,00, almost $225,000 billed so far
  • next steps: community open houses on Sept. 4 and 5
Leading up to the second anniversary of her death, people paid visits to Heather Heyer Way to bring fresh flowers. Heyer was killed near the corner of Fourth Street Southeast and East Water Street in the Aug. 12, 2017, car attack. Credit: Credit: Charlotte Rene Woods/Charlottesville Tomorrow Credit: Credit: Charlotte Rene Woods/Charlottesville Tomorrow

Petition to close Fourth Street crossing of Downtown Mall

Charlottesville resident Aileen Bartels has started a petition to close the Fourth Street crossing on the Downtown Mall. The petition argues that the mall crossing did not always exist (it was opened in 2006) and that it endangers pedestrians walking along the mall. The Downtown Business Association of Charlottesville opposes closing the crossing, NBC29 reportsWhile the focus of the petition is on pedestrian safety, the petition notes that Fourth Street is where a white supremacist drove his car into a crowd of protesters on Aug. 12, 2017, killing activist Heather Heyer and injuring others. The petition was released days before the second anniversary of that event.So far, 357 people have signed Bartels’ online petition.  

  • next steps: to be determined
Heirloom Development and Milestone Partners are hoping to build a four-story apartment or condominium building, with underground parking, where University Tire and Auto Center is now. Credit: Credit: Bushman Dreyfus Architects Credit: Credit: Bushman Dreyfus Architects

Heirloom West Main Street Second Phase

Heirloom Development and Milestone Partners are hoping to build a four-story apartment or condominium building, with underground parking, where University Tire and Auto Center is now. The complex would fall between Heirloom’s newly constructed Six Hundred West Main and the First Baptist Church’s annex building.The Charlottesville Planning Commission reviewed the density of the project on Tuesday. The commission spent the majority of the session discussing whether the city could ensure that demolition would not harm the historic church buildings, after church member Pat Edwards asked for more details. With questions remaining about how to protect the church and prevent parking overflow into the Starr Hill and Fifeville neighborhoods, the commission decided to defer its vote until the body’s next meeting. 

  • address: 602-616 W. Main St.
  • scale: 55 studio to three-bedroom apartments or condos, ground-floor retail
  • next steps: Charlottesville Planning Commission meeting on Sept. 10

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.