A proposed 119-unit apartment building on Jefferson Park Avenue has moved one step closer to reality, with the Charlottesville Planning Commission voting to recommend the development to the city council, providing the developer makes some changes to the design.
The unanimous commission vote is not binding but is an essential step in final approval from the city council.
“This will have benefits for not just students, but also in creating opportunities for non-students, for UVa employees, for people who just want to live in a walkable neighborhood,” said planning commissioner Rory Stolzenberg.
The developer, Mitchell Matthews Architects and Partners, was seeking a special use permit for the apartment building in the 2000 block of Jefferson Park Avenue on 1.71 acres, near the Fontaine Avenue Corridor. The location is adjacent to the Grounds of the University of Virginia.
The planned development would include a mix of one, two and three bedroom apartments, with a bedroom count of up to 390 and would tower seven stories at a total of 51,200 square feet.
The developer has said that the project will "increase purpose-built student housing, which will decrease the pressure on single-family residential neighborhoods that are increasingly being populated by student rentals.”
Planning commissioner Taneia Dowell voiced concerns that the new housing provided in the development would not be a solution to the affordable housing crisis in Charlottesville since it is not being proposed as an Affordable Dwelling Unit development as defined by the city.
According to a city staff report, the requested height increase differs from what is recommended for by-right development. However, it is allowed by special use permit and is generally consistent with the city’s Comprehensive Plan. The Comprehensive Plan envisions the corridor becoming an area of higher residential density and mixed-use, allowing taller and larger structures than the current built form.
Under the new Future Land Use Map, which is part of the Comprehensive Plan, the property is now designated for Urban Mixed Use Corridor.
Because the project was generally consistent with the city’s design guidelines relative to streetscape, site design and architectural design, city staff recommended implementing design guidelines to mitigate the impacts of the building’s height, mass and scale.
The planning commission voted Tuesday to recognize that while the development could have an adverse impact on the Jefferson Park Avenue and Fontaine Avenue entrance corridor, these impacts could be mitigated when the developer goes through the design review process, required by the city.
After the development goes through the design review process, City Council will have the final say on whether the development and special use permit will be approved.
Recommendations include dedicating and constructing a multipurpose bike and pedestrian path within the rear setback of the building, linking Washington Avenue and Observatory Avenue.
The commission is also recommending the developer review adding larger setbacks between the development and the neighborhoods, and either reduce the size, or make design changes that would make the development look smaller.