The board of Piedmont Virginia Community College approved on Wednesday a request to sell a parcel of land along Avon Street Extended and Interstate 64.
The request must be approved by the State Board for Community Colleges. The college plans to use funds from the sale toward its planned Advanced Technology Center.
“We don’t know if they’ll approve the sale, but it can’t get before them unless this board approves taking it to the state,” said Frank Friedman, the college’s president, at a regular meeting.
Last year, the PVCC Real Estate Foundation issued a request for proposal for development of the land with a 50-year lease, but received no responses. Developers later said they didn’t support a 50-year lease. The board also had previously approved a request to offer the land for a 99-year lease.
Friedman said that the state board previously had told him it would not consider selling the land.
“Now, in talking with the vice chancellor, the associate vice chancellor for facilities and the real estate attorney for the [Virginia Community College System]… they both indicated they think that the board might be amenable now... because quite honestly, the funding of our colleges has slipped so dramatically over the last half-dozen years that they might be more amenable to a sale of land to generate revenue for the college,” he said
The wooded land is approximately 17 to 20 acres. The board members went outside to look at the land, which backs up to the V. Earl Dickinson Building and a pond. Friedman and Kim McManus, PVCC’s vice president of finance and administrative services, said they would want to keep a tree buffer between the properties.
Once back inside, Frank Gallo, a board member from Fluvanna County, expressed concerns about unwanted development on the site.
“It’s right across from the jail, right across from the armory, it could be some sort of economic development up there that we really would prefer not to have as a neighbor,” he said.
Friedman suggested the board add an amendment to the motion that would allow local approval of any development contracts; that amendment ultimately was approved.
PVCC estimates the land, which is currently zoned R1 residential, could sell for between $5 million and $10 million.
R1 allows for one unit per acre, but in Albemarle County’s Southern and Western Urban Neighborhoods Master Plan, the property is shown on the future land use map as urban density residential, which recommends density of between six and 34 units per acre.
The Master Plan also says the land potentially “could provide housing for employees of nearby businesses, industries, schools and offices, as well as for students.”
The Master Plan is part of the county’s Comprehensive Plan, which guides long-term vision for land use and resource protection, and includes master plans for the designated development areas of the county. County staff and the Board of Supervisors look to the Comprehensive Plan as part of the rezoning process.
The state community college system owns the land colleges sit upon, much of which was gifted by cities and counties when the schools were created. Sales and transfers of that land, though rare, are not unprecedented. Central Virginia Community College in Lynchburg considered such a sale to Liberty University. And Tidewater Community College’s real estate foundation has worked to develop valuable waterfront property in Suffolk.
Friedman said, as he understood it, that if the state board approves the request, the land would be transferred to the college’s real estate foundation, which would then put out an RFP to sell the land. He said that anything that leads to a contract would have to be approved by the college board and would ultimately have to go through Albemarle’s approval processes.
“So there’s a lot of steps,” he said.