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Charlottesville Council expected to OK JPA student-plex

If last month’s 6-0 thumbs-up vote by the Charlottesville Planning Commission is any indication, City Council is expected at its Monday night meeting to approve a 27-unit apartment building at 1709 Jefferson Park Avenue. The developers plan to demolish a smaller, eight-unit, 1972 building on the property.

"Based on the surrounding uses, staff believes the ‘use’ of multifamily residential on the Subject Property is harmonious with the existing patterns of development," wrote a city planner, Matt Alfele, in his report to the council.

He recommends approval of critical slope waiver and a special use permit with 11 conditions.

The 13,547-square-foot, student-oriented structure would consist of seven stories of apartments over one story of underground parking. It would appear as eight stories high at JPA and four stories high at Montebello Circle. That’s due to what Alfele called the "extreme grade change" of about 54 feet between the low part of this one-third-acre lot on JPA and its high point on Montebello Circle.

Alfele noted that replacement of the existing surface parking lot with underground parking should improve the JPA pedestrian experience by reducing curb cuts from two to one. Other proposed public improvements are three new trees facing JPA — a pair of Kentucky coffeetrees and a Washington hawthorn — plus an 1,122-square-foot plaza around the front door.

The developer is Neighborhood Investments LLC, a local company run by Richard Spurzem, while the applicant is a Charlottesville architectural firm, Mitchell/Matthews. Rather than supplying affordable housing on the site, they propose paying $124,257 to the city’s affordable housing fund.

A more controversial development also seeking the council’s approval Monday night is the so-called Circus Grounds or 0 E. High St. development, what its detractors call the "floodplain development" because it will stand within the 100-year Rivanna River flood zone. As previously reported, that proposal for 245 units appears to have satisfied most of the technical, site-plan challenges that it faced. Opposition, however, has been fervent and persistent.


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