Long-proposed projects at the Southwood Mobile Home Park and in downtown Crozet could take another step forward next week.
On June 19, the Albemarle County Board of Supervisors will vote on two agreements — one that would give $3.2 million in contributions and tax rebates to Habitat for Humanity of Greater Charlottesville for the redevelopment of Southwood and another that would give Crozet New Town Associates LLC $3.2 million in cash and tax recompense toward construction of Crozet Plaza.
If approved, both agreements are contingent on rezonings of both sites being approved. Both rezonings are scheduled to go before the Board of Supervisors on Aug. 21.
In a media briefing Wednesday, Deputy County Executive Doug Walker said these are not contracted rezoning.
“There are no shortcuts. They’re going to have to follow all the development requirements of the county just like any other land development activity,” he said.
Habitat bought the Southwood property off Old Lynchburg Road, near Fifth Street Extended, in 2007, and it plans to redevelop the site into a 700- to 800-unit mixed-income, mixed-use development. The work is expected to be done without displacing any of the current residents.
The first phase of the project is on approximately 33 acres and could include up to about 450 residential units.
Dan Rosensweig, executive director of the local Habitat, said the organization is excited about the potential agreement and called it the “product of months of productive negotiations” between Habitat and the county.
“We think it’s a really good, highly leveraged investment for the county and it’s part of our joint commitment to resident-driven, equitable redevelopment without displacement,” he said.
If the agreement is approved, approximately $1.4 million could go to Habitat to assist in building 75 affordable units over three years when certain milestones are met. Those milestones include certain county permits and disclosure of information about donations, pledges and other forms of revenue. The units are required to remain affordable for at least 40 years.
Another $300,000 could go to Habitat if it is awarded federal low-income housing tax credits, which Habitat currently is pursuing, for 80 affordable rental units. The units are required to remain affordable for at least 30 years.
Approximately $1.4 million in real property taxes could be rebated to Habitat over 10 years. The money would be used to build additional affordable units.
Before any money is given to Habitat, the organization must provide a budget, funding plan, a non-displacement plan, information on its project team members and other financial information.
The organization has been working with the county on the project since 2016. The county has provided $675,000 in direct funds to the project, and a state grant of $2.25 million was awarded to Habitat last year. County staff members also have been working with Habitat on the planning.
Walker said the initial funding, if approved, could come from the county’s housing fund.
Albemarle also could partner with Crozet New Town Associates LLC for a public-private partnership around the redevelopment of the former Barnes Lumber site in Crozet.
The redevelopment of the site has been included in the Crozet Master Plan, and a proposal was submitted in 2011 but it did not move forward. The current proposed project would include commercial and retail space, a hotel and approximately 52 residential units in its first phase.
The project and agreement was dubbed Project Patriot by the county.
If the agreement is approved, the county, through the Economic Development Authority, would provide $1.6 million in cash for construction of the plaza and approximately $1.6 million in tax rebates through Synthetic Tax Increment Financing.
In that process, the developer pays all county taxes and then the county pays the developer the incremental increase in property taxes paid. The developer then uses this contribution to pay for the debt service of their construction loan, which is $1.6 million.
The developer is contributing a $2 million match for road projects, including to extend the road from Crozet Square to Hilltop Street, and extending High Street and Library Avenue, while the Virginia Department of Transportation is giving about $2.3 million.
The county also will provide construction management for the public road, conduct a parking study during the Crozet Master Plan update process, an area market study and provide maintenance for the plaza. Ultimately, the county would own the plaza.
“What the county gets at the end of the day, recognizing that the developer holds the risk for the built environment beyond the road and plaza, is we get public amenities, the road and the plaza, valued at significantly more than what the county is contributing,” Walker said.
The initial $1.6 million would come from the Economic Development Fund.
Frank Stoner, with Milestone Partners, presented the proposed agreement at the Crozet Community Advisory Committee’s meeting Wednesday evening. He said he’s been involved in the project for four years.
“The county gets plenty of criticism from lots of places, but they have been a delight to work with,” he said. “The whole team has really been incredibly supportive. Hopefully next week the board will review it and they’ll endorse it and we’ll move forward.”
He said the roads have been challenging because VDOT wants the new main road designated as an “urban collector” road.
“We want a slower speed limit, we want a narrow pavement section, we want less sight distance so we can put more on-street parking. This is going to be an urban shopping district, this is not a freeway,” he said.
Perrone Robotics, a Crozet-headquartered developer of autonomous vehicle software, is located in the current lumber yard building and Stoner said they are looking for alternatives for a test track location.
A community member asked if they want other businesses like Perrone in the area, and Stoner said they do.
“The challenge is, how do we create an environment in which companies want to locate in Crozet,” he said.