CDP DairyCentral.jpg

The proposed Dairy Central building, seen from West Street looking north, would be built at 946 Grady Ave. in Charlottesville.

The developer of the Dairy Central project now has a special-use permit that will allow for the construction of an even larger development on the 10th and Page side of the Preston Avenue corridor.

On a 4-1 vote, the Charlottesville City Council on Monday approved the request for a special-use permit. The new multiphase development at 946 Grady Ave. will include 251 rental apartments, 60,000 square feet of office space and 45,000 square feet of retail space.

The permit specifically grants the developer permission to build two five-story apartment buildings behind the historic Monticello Dairy building and to increase the residential density at the nearly 4.3-acre development site.

“If we get approval tonight, we will move through the detailed design process and try to get this under construction as soon as possible,” developer Chris Henry, of Stony Point Design Build, said before the vote.

With the redevelopment of the Monticello Dairy building scheduled to begin later this summer, Henry has said he hopes to start construction of the other two buildings soon shortly afterward.

Even though she voted against approving the special-use permit for the project, Mayor Nikuyah Walker agreed with the other councilors that Henry’s development team did a commendable job in engaging neighborhood residents.

“I hope more developers take note of your efforts, even though I’m not supportive of this right now,” Walker said. “The way you authentically deal with people you come in contact with — you have a level of respect that most people do not even attempt to find.”

Walker said she ultimately could not support the project because it would not do enough to address the need for affordable housing in the city.

Under the current development plan, 20 of the 251 rental units will be affordable to households making less than 80 percent of the area’s annual median income.

The median income in Charlottesville is approximately $75,000 for a family of four.

Councilor Kathy Galvin said she’s pleased with the inclusion of some affordable housing units, but extolled the potential for additional tax revenue.

According to staff, the property currently generates about $130,000 in annual tax revenue. According to the city’s estimates, the developed property will generate $1.48 million in annual revenue for the city.

Galvin noted that Charlottesville is starting to stretch its ability to issue large annual bonds to pay for capital projects.

“We really have to understand that we need the revenue to pay for our debt service,” she said.

“Our schools are going to need capital investment, but they don’t generate revenue,” Galvin added. “This [project] is providing affordable housing and generating revenue that will help pay down our debt service. We need to expand our bonding capacity moving forward.”

Henry said the 20 affordable housing units could be affordable to those with even lower incomes if the council approves a tax abatement plan that was submitted to the city’s economic development authority recently.

If the tax abatement plan is approved, Henry said, five units would be affordable for households at 40 percent of the annual median income, and 10 units would be affordable at 60 percent AMI.

When asked for a copy of the plan submitted to the city, Henry deferred to the city’s economic development office to disclose the application.

City officials did not respond to a request for the application.

Chris Suarez is a reporter for The Daily Progress. Contact him at (434) 978-7274, or @Suarez_CM  on Twitter.

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