A firm hired by the City Council to provide a blueprint for the future of central Charlottesville has unveiled an ambitious redevelopment plan.
“The plan talks about everything from housing to public infrastructure to pedestrian and bike transportation issues,” said Lee Quill of Cunningham Quill, based in Washington, D.C. “It talks about things that can happen, programs and policies and initiatives in the area.”
About 100 people attended a presentation Wednesday evening at the Jefferson School City Center.
The city paid Cunningham Quill $145,000 to study the area between Avon Street and Ridge-McIntire Road. That footprint — described as the Strategic Investment Area — includes several public housing sites as well as the subsidized Friendship Court complex.
The plan is intended to be a framework to guide neighborhood improvement, investment and redevelopment. Implementing the vision will require private investment, City Manager Maurice Jones said.
Ludwig Kuttner, one of the owners of the Ix property, compared the plan to the one that created the Downtown Mall in the 1970s.
“It’s the center of the town, people live there, there are no cars and it’s wonderful,” Kuttner said. “This is such an amazing opportunity.”
The centerpiece of the plan is a linear park that would span the study area. A stream would flow through a central plaza on the Ix property to provide a public gathering place. Meadows and gardens would be created to filter stormwater.
“There’s been a big focus on moving on this city to be a more green city,” Quill said.
Several streets would be reconfigured with bike lanes and wider sidewalks. Second Street Southeast and Garret Street would be modified to accommodate additional buildings.
The idea builds on previous plans, such as the 2010 master plan to redevelop public housing sites owned by the city and operated by the Charlottesville Redevelopment and Housing Authority.
Crescent Halls would be stripped to its concrete frame and rebuilt with all new units for senior and disabled residents. First-floor additions would provide a new entrance and commercial space on Monticello Avenue.
“We wanted to see if there was a way to work with development patterns of keeping the neighborhood intact,” Quill said. “There are a number of strategies that could be done to keep everyone in the neighborhood during transition.”
Both the Strategic Investment Area and housing authority master plan call for a multifamily building on the corner of Levy Avenue and Avon Street.
A Belmont woman said she felt threatened by that idea.
“It’s encroaching on the residential neighborhood of Belmont in a way that is not very sensitive,” Julia Williams said. “Be very careful in how these things are developed so these neighborhoods aren’t eroded.”
Deirdre Gilmore, a housing authority tenant, wanted to know how the plan would lead to more jobs for residents of public and low-income housing.
“We can’t tell people to put jobs there, but what this plan does is put the pieces together to be able to use the planning process and civic commitments to advance job opportunities,” Smart said.
New space would provide opportunities for businesses and efforts could be made to create support services such as day care facilities. The plan also recommends that space for nonprofit human services be clustered in the area.
Smart envisioned that as many as 750 new homes could be built, in addition to the redevelopment of public and subsidized housing sites in the area. He also said as much as 300,000 square feet of commercial and office space could be built.
Quill said some of the first steps would be to remove a fence surrounding Friendship Court, repair fences at the housing authority site on Sixth Street, as well as the Crescent Hall renovations.
The City Council will consider the plan later this year. Before then, the council plans an Aug. 1 work session on the comprehensive plan. The updated plan calls for the development of more small area plans similar to the Strategic Investment Area.