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Group to be briefed with first rezoning for Habitat’s Southwood redevelopment
Context map for Southwood rezoning
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Credit: Habitat for Humanities
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Sean Tubbs | Wednesday, March 14, 2018 at 11:21 p.m.

Habitat for Humanity of Greater Charlottesville on Thursday will present details of the first phase of a redevelopment plan that will transform the Southwood Mobile Home Park into a mixed-use, mixed-income community.

“The community-generated design principles presented in this zoning map amendment will create a mixed-income, mixed-use community that prioritizes the non-displacement of the community that exists today,” reads the narrative of a rezoning application filed with Albemarle County officials in February.

The 5th and Avon Community Advisory Committee will hold its March meeting at the Southwood Community Center to learn about the plan. The public event begins at 6:00 p.m.

“The CAC is hosting Southwood's required community meeting as part of its rezoning application,” said David Storm, co-chair of the committee. “We look forward to what they will present and to hearing the community's feedback.”

The county’s Comprehensive Plan divides Albemarle’s 726 square miles into a rural area and an urban area where growth is encouraged. Groups like the 5th and Avon committee are tasked with overseeing development in the growth area.

In this first phase, Habitat is seeking the rezoning of 32.5 acres to the “Neighborhood Model District” zoning category. The bulk of the property was part of a land swap last year between Habitat and the Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation.

The state purchased the land in January 2010 from the developers of the planned Biscuit Run mixed-use community. As such, development of some the land is currently restricted to conditions established in a rezoning approved by the Board of Supervisors in Sept. 2007.

The Comprehensive Plan calls for the land at Southwood to be “urban residential density.” The current zoning for the three parcels in the first phase are R-2 and the Neighborhood Model District. The request is to rezone all three to NMD under a new code of development.

“The proposed project is intended to be a mixed-use, mixed-income community with two blocks of distinct use and density,” wrote Whitney McDermott of the firm BRW Architects in a letter to county officials.

Block A would consist of about 20.9 acres to the south of the existing community. Block B would front along Old Lynchburg Road.

McDermott said Block A would have a residential density of between 80 and 150 units, working out to between 3.8 and 7.5 units per acre. This section would also include commercial units that would be intended to serve the neighborhood.

To increase flexibility, Habitat will also seek a reduction in parking requirements.

“This waiver request is seeking a reduction for the number of parking spaces required for the non-residential uses,” McDermott continued.

For instance, the current rules state that one parking space must be provided for every 100 square feet of retail service area. Habitat wants that changed to three spaces per 1,000 square feet of commercial space.

The goal is not just to encourage walkability, but to create a built environment that is less suburban.

“Instead of requiring off-street parking on every lot, the residents are interested in exploring less suburban arrangements, such as shared parking,” said Dan Rosensweig, Habitat’s executive director. “They really want uninterrupted sidewalks and preservation of affordability via multiple tools, such as smaller lots and shared community space.”

The exact details of how Southwood’s first phase will be developed are not yet known because Habitat’s engagement process with residents is not complete.  

“The proposed project intends to encourage a resident-driven process in which, by the time of site planning and subdivision plat residents will design their own neighborhoods,” McDermott said.

The first phase would have a maximum of 400 housing units that will be developed with input from residents.

Habitat is seeking an approval of the first rezoning request by the end of 2018.

The Timmons Group has conducted a traffic study that incorporates both the first phase and a second. The study assumes the first phase will include 80,000 square feet of commercial space.

The study anticipates that the second phase of redevelopment would see the 341 existing mobile homes replaced with 500 new dwelling units for a net gain of 159 units. For the purposes of the traffic study, this phase would include 103 apartments, 40 townhomes and 16 single-family units. However,

In 2016, the Board of Supervisors entered into a partnership agreement with Habitat to develop the land. Earlier this year, the supervisors agreed to contribute $675,000 to Habitat for the project.

“Southwood's redevelopment can be a model for addressing affordable housing issues nationwide and Albemarle County can be a partner in helping to make that happen,” Storm said.


 

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