Master Plan Digest: History of Friendship Court and its Surrounding Neighborhoods

Friendship Court rose from urban renewal. In 1967, the area known as the Garrett Street neighborhood was cleared by the Charlottesville Redevelopment and Housing Authority. Most of the industrial and commercial sites and all of the existing housing along Garrett as well as Diggs, Dice, Oak, Ware, and 2nd Streets to the south were removed.

The same 1960s urban renewal process that generated Garrett Square produced harmful outcomes in another downtown neighborhood: Vinegar Hill. As in many communities across the country, urban renewal in Charlottesville saw the destruction of a vibrant African American neighborhood and business district.

While urban renewal was presented as an opportunity to bring new life to downtown, for many African Americans, Vinegar Hill meant displacement of African American families and businesses. That profound sense of loss is still fresh today, 50 years later.

Garrett Square (later renamed Friendship Court) was built in 1978 on the cleared Garrett site. In 2002, Piedmont Housing Alliance entered into a partnership with National Housing Trust (NHT) to acquire and renovate Friendship Court. In 2018, Piedmont Housing will have the opportunity to become the managing partner and redevelop this site. In nearly 40 years of existence, Friendship Court has never undergone a major redevelopment.

The proposed master plan for Friendship Court seeks to redevelop the site without displacing any of the mostly African American residents at any time during or after construction. Instead of destroying affordable housing, the current effort seeks to preserve and expand the stock of affordable and workforce housing in a process informed by those who live there now.

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What do you think? Continue the conversation with a comment below.

In our next Master Plan blog post, we’ll see an overview of the resident engagement process that informed the master plan – more than two dozen meetings and interviews.

Source: Friendship Court Redevelopment Master Plan, December 2016 – Local Context (Neighborhood Context)

4 responses to “Master Plan Digest: History of Friendship Court and its Surrounding Neighborhoods

  1. Kenneth A Martin

    My uncle, Tom Jones, said it was a blessing to be able to move to Hardy Drive.

  2. Congratulations! Now was that so hard? I don’t expect many people to get the details correct. But a simple acknowledgement that something big happened here is a breakthrough. By mentioning Vinegar Hill a million times exclusively, a community myth arose that Vinegar Hill was and is the only urban renewal. The intentional misleading has amplified the distrust. I don’t want to repeat that mistake by now only mentioning 2 lost neighborhoods exclusively. Let’s not forget Preston Avenue cleared for a 4-lane highway to nowhere. And Kellytown. And others like West Main and East Main. We shouldn’t single out any particular lost neighborhood for a monument. Ultimately the City needs to account for all eminent domain intrusions on the real estate market and decline of local economy, tax base and civic pride.

    Since City Council and CRHA have blocked publication of the Housing Authority/ public housing/ urban renewal archives since 2007, there’s no database people can consult. I have the most information spread out across the internet and 17 years of research and reporting. There was a book a few years back with 17 photos of Vinegar Hill but nothing about most of urban renewal. The archive is 1,189 photos, 6,845 documents, 189 maps and blueprints, and over 6,000 mapping points to recreate history in vivid detail.

    But City Council strongly opposes that as I have documented many times. I am not enough people to force City Council to release this public information to the public. But I have a Facebook group called “Lost Garrett Neighborhood”. A Blog from 2006 to 2015 archived online. I ran for House of Delegates in 2003 on this single issue, against a politician who voted to bulldoze my childhood neighborhood. The eminent domain campaign began on June 5, 2000 when I gave 2 speeches at City Council about urban renewal. And I was on the radio Dec 29, 2016 relating urban renewal to the Blue Ribbon Commission and the continuing effort to erase local history in the Lee statue debate. I have 2 major articles that tell the Real History on my site blairhawkins.net.

    So you see, urban renewal is not something that happened in the past. It started in the past and this post friendshipcourtapartments.com is the latest news about Charlottesville’s Urban Renewal program which began 1954. And here are the official archives I have been able to public before City Council stopped cooperating.
    http://www.blairhawkins.net/HC/archives/archive2visits.html

  3. I wanted to make sure people know about this graphic & updated website. Two projects line up perfectly… Vinegar Hill – Westhaven and Ware Street – Friendship Court. The others are fuzzy. http://www.blairhawkins.net/posts/Urban-Renewal/Timeline-Urban-Renewal.jpg

  4. Pingback: Charlottesville Land Use - A Brief History - RealCentralVA.com

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