Charlottesville Sees Surge in Housing Construction
Charlottesville has a sudden rush of developers turning dirt on projects that stalled for years during the economic downturn.
Hundreds of new homes and apartments are under construction on just a handful of open acres of land inside the city.
A chart in the city's planning office lists more than 860 residential units under construction right now, including homes, townhouses and apartments. Another 541 are under review or approved. Some property owners worry the sudden influx will saturate the market.
Reid Murphy, owner of the Building Management Company, has crews making progress on an apartment project that's been five years in planning. The three-story complex across from the University of Virginia will house 36 apartments.
"The market for multi-family housing is undeniably good," Murphy said.
Murphy says the demand is leading lenders to back these kinds of new residential developments.
"There are apartment buildings going up all over this town, no doubt about it," Murphy said.
An Atlanta-based developer is building 300 student apartments at Arlington and Millmont. Across the city, bulldozers are clearing land in Belmont to build the City Walk development. It will include another 300 residential units between Carlton Avenue and the old coal tower.
"What we're seeing now is the in-fills and the last pieces that people thought 20 years ago you couldn't build on. You really can, and they are doing that," said Jim Tolbert, director of Neighborhood Development Services.
The land along Fifth Street - one of the few undeveloped areas in the city - is slated for 189 units, and Charlottesville planners are reviewing a developer's proposal to put 219 apartments along West Main Street.
"I think there is room. It's in our plan to have more dense development and we're seeing that happen," Tolbert said.
That's a risk Murphy's Building Management Company is taking.
"You've got to be concerned about, ‘what makes my product stand out?'" Murphy said.
He's investing in the location to attract tenants to his properties over the hundreds of other options opening soon.
"It'll be cyclical. There will be too many built and it'll affect rents and vacancies," Murphy said.
The city says the recession stalled many of these developments until now. As financing becomes available, the planned projects can start construction more quickly.
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