What We Learned from Previous Planning Reports in Charlottesville

While preparing the master plan for redevelopment at Friendship Court, the design team reviewed a number of local plans and reports. Each of these documents offered valuable data that has begun to factor into our proposed approach, particularly with respect to housing and parking.

Some of the specific documents reviewed include the Strategic Investment Area plan (2013); Charlottesville Parking Study (2015); Housing Plan (2016); Comprehensive Housing Analysis (2015); and the Economic Development Study (2014).

In addition to studying the City’s reports related to planning frameworks, the design team also undertook physical observations of the site to understand how those frameworks intersected with physical realities.

For example, connectivity is an important theme in the planning documents. At Friendship Court, we heard from residents and neighbors that physical features such as the fence and the superblock layout cause the place to be seen as isolated and separated from the surrounding neighborhoods.

Sustainability and green infrastructure are also key vision elements identified by the City in its planning initiatives. Friendship Court faces significant issues, including stormwater management and flooding on site, that could be greatly reduced or fully controlled by using green infrastructure.

What this tells us about affordable housing

  • Low-income households face the most challenging trade-offs between housing and transportation costs. Their best housing options—meaning low-cost choices—are in Albemarle and surrounding counties.
  • But those locations, which require an automobile, increase a household’s transportation costs, sometimes dramatically, and those increases can wipe out lower housing costs.
  • Designating “workforce” housing as affordable and incorporating it into our development could address a critical need in the city while supporting the “ladder of opportunity” vision for redevelopment. It may also attract city funds for streetscape and infrastructure improvements on site to achieve this important housing goal.

What this tells us about parking

  • The City-commissioned 2015 parking study recommends creation of a Parking Benefit District(s) with parking revenues dedicated to creating one or more parking facilities, supporting parking management, coordinating shared parking, improving information flow, and implementing transportation demand management.
  • The redevelopment plan tucks parking underneath the new buildings. There are many reasons to do this, most notably because it frees up land for creating public green spaces, which make the site more attractive, more appealing to live in, and can support creation of green infrastructure.

What this tells us about connectivity

  • Look for ways to change Friendship Court from an island to a connected neighborhood.
  • Increase connectivity by creating a green “corridor” across the site.
  • Extend both Hinton and Belmont avenues into Friendship Court to create new streets or pedestrian walkways, connecting Friendship Court to the Belmont neighborhood around it.

What this tells us about sustainability

  • Improve quality of life by designing the stormwater retention system to minimize flooding and runoff.
  • Increase connectivity by introducing a green corridor across the site.
  • Make the green space a true amenity that all residents—and neighbors—can actively enjoy.

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In our next Master Plan blog post, we’ll discuss the physical site context at Friendship Court.

Source: Friendship Court Redevelopment Master Plan, December 2016 – What We Heard and What That Tells Us (Previous Planning Principles)

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