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Sidewalk improvements on Stribling Avenue holding up potential housing project in Charlottesville

Published: Oct. 18, 2021 at 9:55 PM EDT
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CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (WVIR) - A project that would have turned 12 acres of land into 171 apartments, townhouses, and two-family units in Charlottesville is running into some roadblocks.

The issue on its surface is sidewalks, or a lack of them. But as city councilors said on Monday, the problems ultimately come down to money and priorities.

The project, which would happen on Stribling Avenue, was delayed last month by the Planning Commission because of those infrastructure concerns. City councilors were made aware of those issues as well.

“If we don’t have the infrastructure, this project as presented can’t go through” said Councilor Heather Hill. “It’s just not really feasible.”

With that point largely agreed upon, the complications come when considering how to complete the sidewalk and all that entails, from roadwork to drainage, given the cost estimate from Charlottesville’s Engineer Jack Dawson.

“After I did the analysis, I adjusted all of those things and it went to $2.4 million almost with a 20% contingency bringing it to $2.8 million,” Dawson said.

With $75 million in school reconfiguration projects also in the city’s capital plan, Deputy City Manager Sam Sanders said finding that money could be “a tall order.”

“[Piedmont Housing Association] or others are doing more units at lower [Average Median Income] levels for a longer period of time” Councilor Michael Payne said. “Even if we’re just thinking of $850,000 strictly for housing... I just think realistically it’s going to be pretty hard, if not impossible, for that to really jump up above those other priorities.”

Councilor Lloyd Snook added that he’s “not saying absolutely no, but sure not interested at the moment after what I’m seeing.”

The next steps in this process are for the Planning Commission to hold a vote. Then, if it passes, Council would have to consider it. However, it’s unlikely to get to Council until two new members are sworn in, in January.

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