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Neighbors pan potential 170-unit development on Stribling Avenue

A proposed 170-unit development near the Charlottesville-Albemarle County line met opposition from its potential neighbors this week as the city Planning Commission discussed the proposal.

If built, the condominium, duplex and townhouse development would sit at 240 Stribling Ave. Wednesday’s meeting was a third review of the project, for which a formal proposal has not yet been presented. The commission has twice reviewed drafts of the project.

Charlie Armstrong, of Southern Development Group, is the owner’s agent for Carrsgrove Properties LLC, which owns the property off Jefferson Park Avenue behind University of Virginia Urology.

Throughout the process, neighbors have been critical of the proposal impacting safety in the area, with 16 people expressing opposition or concerns about the development during public comment.

Most of the opposition centered around increased traffic on the road and pedestrian and cyclist safety.

Martin Quarles said the neighborhood was in “fairly unanimous agreement” that the proposal was too large.

“I think there’s a really strong sentiment in this part of the city to say this is too much and it’s in the wrong location,” he said.

Tom Cogill said the development would be “reckless” and “endanger people on the street.”

“It would be disrespectful really to the neighbors and the neighborhood in general to do it in the way they’re talking about,” he said.

Paul Josey said the density wasn’t justified in the area because amenities like grocery stores, parks and UVa weren’t within close walking distance to the “unsupportive” street.

Julie Convisser said the design would create a “public hazard” by adding traffic to Stribling and creating a cut-thru with Morgan Court.

“It’s a road that can’t even tolerate two-way traffic as it is,” she said of Stribling.

Derrick Stone, who lives on Nob Hill Circle off Stribling, said that putting this development where the streets aren’t safe is a bad idea, while emphasizing that he supports affordable housing.

“There’s a conflict between adding low-cost housing and putting it here,” he said.

Marilyn Swinford said that if the city supports the development, it needs to improve infrastructure in the area.

“The city has not prepared itself for this development, and this urban plan, this urban site, is premature because of that,” she said.

Commissioners echoed some of the concerns from neighbors about infrastructure in the area and potential impacts.

“Unless we can approve the infrastructure, it’s going to be difficult approving the density on the site,” Commissioner Hosea Mitchell said.

The development would come with a $500,000 contribution to fund infrastructure improvements. Brennen Duncan, the city’s traffic engineer, said the money could be used to leverage state funds.

Commissioner Rory Stolzenberg said the city long ago should have invested in the area and the development would expedite that process while adding to the tax base.

“This project is the way to make it happen,” he said. “It pays for itself and more.”

Armstrong is finalizing engineering and designs and, once the application is finished, the proposal will be set for a public hearing before the commission and the City Council.

Once the application is finalized, the proposal is to rezone the property from a split single- and two-family residential district to Planned Unit Development.

At an earlier work session, Armstrong proposed 68 lots with duplexes, but the commission had indicated it supported something more dense.

The development would be a mix of duplexes, townhouses and condominiums. The earlier draft listed the number of each type of unit, but the documents discussed Wednesday focused more on square footage. The plans show 73 lots and four condo buildings.

The proposal would have a maximum density of 15 units per acre, which equals 181 units. Armstrong said he is not planning to add more units at a later date.

Armstrong said 15% of the units, or about 26 units, would be designated for people making between 25% and 60% of area median income.

The city’s median household income level for fiscal 2020, which ended June 30, is $93,900, according to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

The proposed qualified salary range for a single person would top out at $39,480, according to the Virginia Housing Development Authority. For a family of four, the qualified salary range would top out at $56,340.

Armstrong said some parallel parking on the streets will be included, but the majority of parking will be under the apartment buildings and townhouses.

Commissioner Lyle Solla-Yates wanted to cut down on parking, acknowledging it might be difficult. Armstrong said he’d like to reduce parking, but it makes the development less marketable. He said that, with the underground parking design, the space possibly could be reconfigured in the future.

“We’ve found it’s pretty hard to sell or rent without parking,” he said.


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