Local Democrats have

a new blog

and they have referenced a couple of stories recently reported by

Charlottesville Tomorrow

.  One of

their posts

references the

February 15, 2007 meeting of the

Planning and Coordination Council (PACC)


which has
representation from the University of Virginia, the Albemarle County
Board of Supervisors, and Charlottesville City Council.  Here I can provide some additional information from that meeting that will provide a more complete picture of UVA’s projections for student growth, and their view as to where those students should be living in the community.  The comments below were made by

David Neuman

, Architect of the University of Virginia.

“The first thing I like to start off any of these discussions about [the University’s major projects] is [by raising the question], ‘Why does the University continue to grow?’”

“I think it is critical to understand that most of this growth is not population driven, it is space deficiency driven… it is also program improvements.  Basically, the sort of research we are doing, is not the same research as twenty years ago.  It is not even what it was five years ago.  And it requires more and more sophisticated capabilities for the scientists to have, for the engineers to have, and so forth.”

“The state [negotiated with the University the arrangement] by which we are taking approximately 1,500 new students over the next decade. So that is about 150 students a year, roughly 100 undergraduates and 50 graduate students.  That’s a requirement.  The state would have liked us to take more.”

“One of the things I know the community frequently asks me is, ‘Why don’t we house all the students on grounds?’  The fact is we house all the first years.  The second fact is that they don’t want to be housed on grounds.  The opportunities for housing are there, we actually have vacancies in our current residential facilities, both apartments and dormitories because students chose to live off-grounds.  It’s not likely that the University would impose, beyond the first year, that people would live on grounds… None of the universities do that.  So when I came from a place that housed 97% of the students on grounds, it was because they wanted to live on grounds, and that isn’t the case here, and it’s not the case in most institutions that I know of…”

In his presentation, Mr. Neuman described for the PACC members seven active construction projects (totaling $385 million) and another half-dozen projects in the design phase, including new 5-story student dorms on Observatory Hill. [See

Charlottesville Tomorrow’s November 2005 summary of UVA’s billion dollar construction plan

]

Mr. Neuman went to great lengths in his remarks to describe UVA’s construction plans as not being in response to the University’s need to grow (except for student housing), but rather to improve facilities for existing staff.  When pressed by Supervisor Dennis Rooker to provide employment projections, neither Mr. Neuman nor Colette Sheehy, VP for Management and Budget, could provide an estimate.  They said they were in the middle of developing a 10-year plan that would result in such projections.

In her remarks, Ms. Sheehy pointed out that affordable housing was a major problem for the University and she indicated that many younger staff could not afford to live in Albemarle County.  Unlike developers in Albemarle County, the University is not subject to proffers for affordable housing when they launch new building projects.

Brian Wheeler

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