New Hill Development Corp. aims to support and expand Charlottesville’s African-American middle class, and the organization’s first move is a small area plan for the Starr Hill neighborhood. Founder Yolunda Harrell is hoping to hire area residents to start the planning process.

Founded last April, New Hill became more widely known in November, when the City Council gave the nonprofit $500,000 to complete the small area plan and offer financial coaching to the larger community.

“I think a lot of people assume that we have this complete, thought-out vision for everything,” Harrell said. “That’s what the small area plan is about — creating the complete, thought-out vision.”

To make sure the vision is created by the community, Harrell is seeking Starr Hill residents who can work with her to further engage the neighborhood. Those who step forward would be compensated for their time with a part of the city funding, Harrell said.

On Saturday, Harrell pitched the position to members of the Starr Hill Neighborhood Association and other interested community members.

After the meeting, Charlottesville Police Civilian Review Board member Gloria Beard said she is interested in the position. She lives outside Starr Hill but attends First Baptist Church in the neighborhood.

“I’m a people person, so I would love to talk to people, take flyers out and that kind of thing,” Beard said. “I’m retired, and I’ve been busy ever since.”

Beard said she would like the small area plan to include affordable housing, new jobs and something for young people to do.

Pat Edwards, a representative of the neighborhood association, said she wants to make sure the interests and concerns of current residents are part of the plan.

Edwards said parking is one of those concerns, because customers or employees of neighboring businesses sometimes take up residential spots.

“There are people who actually park in our neighborhood, take their suitcases out and walk to the train station. And the car sits there for days because they’ve gone away somewhere,” she said.

A garage in the Amtrak parking lot could alleviate those concerns, Edwards said.

“One with a green roof, where people can go up and look at the beautiful mountain views,” she said. “Maybe the lower level could [have] some businesses.”

Community members interested in helping New Hill with the small area plan engagement process can contact the organization through


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.