Charlottesville plans to incorporate New Hill Development Corp.’s vision for the Starr Hill neighborhood into its Comprehensive Plan.
During its meeting Monday, the City Council directed City Attorney John Blair to draft a resolution directing the Planning Commission to review the Starr Hill Small Area Plan. The resolution will be presented at the council’s Nov. 18 meeting.
The New Hill plan focuses much of Starr Hill’s future on redeveloping City Yard, a roughly 10-acre public works lot off Preston Avenue near downtown.
“There’s no denying the fact that this space is underutilized and we’re not getting the best bang for our buck with how we’re currently using the space,” Councilor Wes Bellamy said.
New Hill was created in 2018 as a community initiative to spur investment in the Starr Hill area and in Vinegar Hill, a historically African American neighborhood that was razed by the city in the 1960s.
The city donated $500,000 to the corporation to craft the plan, which was presented to the council on Monday.
The plan would be incorporated into the existing Comprehensive Plan and would not require additional review when the city finishes updating it and the zoning ordinance.
The city’s Comprehensive Plan, which is a guide for local land-use decisions, was last updated in 2013, and the zoning code hasn’t been substantially revised since 2003.
The plan update started in 2017, but likely won’t finish until 2021.
Last week, the city awarded a $926,000 contract to Rhodeside and Harwell Inc. to finish the update, which the consultant expects to need 25 months to do.
The proposal states that the city should vacate the property so New Hill can facilitate a massive redevelopment.
New Hill’s proposal is for the property to hold 685,000 square feet of commercial and residential space plus 132,000 square feet of parking. It could hold 82 to 255 townhouses and apartments affordable for those who make 50% to 80% of the city’s median income, which the plan states is about $50,000.
According to the plan, construction on the massive redevelopment could support 790 jobs and bring $38.4 million of investment.
The finalized property could support 615 jobs and $32.5 million of investment.
The plan also calls for additional housing, enhancing the Jefferson School African American Heritage Center, and says a stretch of property along Brown Street could hold 10 to 46 residential units.
At the Jefferson School, the plan calls for more investment to increase tenants and events.
It proposes a redesign of the school’s public park, surrounding art installations and an outdoor amphitheater. Under the redesign, the school’s parking deck would be expanded by two levels and 105 spaces.
Sprinkled throughout the plan are pedestrian improvements to emphasize connectivity between neighborhoods.
Councilor Kathy Galvin lauded New Hill for proposing increased density while preserving the neighborhood’s character.
“To increase density, increase the number of units that we desperately need, without destroying the fabric of what’s there and what’s beloved is really remarkable,” she said.