Monthly Archives: December 2017

The Youth Leadership Team Pays a Visit to Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello

The Youth Leadership team spent a day at Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello learning about local history, architecture and landscape thanks to Piedmont Housing Alliance board member Barbara Brown Wilson. The youth asked questions and learned about Thomas Jefferson and Monticello. One question was, “how did Monticello become a site for people to visit? Who knew Monticello would be such an important place?” The group learned about the Levy family, whose vision and foresight aided the preservation of Monticello, and about many other interesting local history stories. The group even got to tour the special Dome Room, a special treat, not available to regular tour groups.

“I’ve been to Monticello several times, as had many of our young leaders. But this tour was by far my best experience, in large part to the shared love of learning exhibited between the youth leaders and our amazing tour guide, Liz Marshall. The youth leaders would bring in things they learned during the video orientation to ask complex follow-up questions during each aspect of the house tour. It was a fantastic experience,” said Barbara Brown-Wilson.

Many thanks to Monticello for a great day from Barbara, Bailey, Javisha, Jarvis, Emilee, Justin, Ty’Quan, Tianna and Claudette!

Friendship Court Advisory Committee Takes Tour of Four Communities in Washington, DC

bus tour outside bus tourOn November 29, the Friendship Court Advisory Committee took a field trip to Washington, DC to view four different housing developments that are considered relevant to the Friendship Court redevelopment plan. Five resident participants, including two of the youth leaders, three other Friendship Court Advisory Committee members, several Piedmont Housing Alliance board members and staff as well as architects with Grimm + Parker, traveled around the city to get an in-depth look at what the future redevelopment of Friendship Court could include. As the Advisory Committee works towards refining the framework provided by the Master Plan, they are participating in a series of design workshops or charrettes with Grimm + Parker.  This tour of several mixed-income developments helped give the resident participants a better understanding of the Friendship Court project, and opportunities for how they may want to live, work, and play in downtown Charlottesville. 

The group began their tour at a National Housing Trust-Enterprise site, Monseñor Romero Apartments, located in the Mount Pleasant neighborhood of DC. The National Housing Trust-Enterprise, Piedmont Housing Alliance’s partner, gave the group a tour of the property, originally built in 1908.  After a five-alarm fire destroyed the apartments in 2008, they were redeveloped with financial help from NHT-Enterprise.  All of the Monseñor Romero Apartment units are set aside for households earning no more than 60% of the area median income.  The returning residents had rents established based on 30% of a household’s income through an internal subsidy program.  The building was renamed Monseñor Romero Apartments after the fourth Archbishop of San Salvador, who was an advocate against poverty and social injustice. Participants enjoyed learning about this story and the commitment to the returning residents, and also enjoyed visiting the rooftop garden with views of northwest Washington, DC.

The second stop on the bus tour took the group to visit a development designed by Grimm + Parker just three years ago called The SeVerna and the SeVerna on K Street, in downtown DC.  Situated in the area known as NoMA, it is a multi-generational community made up of two separate buildings accommodating studios, one-, two-, three- and four-bedroom apartments, offering affordable and market rate units.  The development is located right next to public housing.  The buildings, part of a larger master plan for the area, are helping to revitalize a city block between housing, schools, and transportation hubs.  At this location, the participants were able to view the interior of one of the two-bedroom apartments and get a feel for the layout. The group embraced the design and scale of the two over two townhome-style units with a front and rear access. They also heard more about life at The SeVerna from a current resident during lunch, giving them a better feel for what life is really like there and in the neighborhood, both before and after the redevelopment.

bus tour in DC 4The Summit

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The next stop was The Summit at St. Martin’s, a 184-unit apartment building in a residential area in Northeast DC that accommodates a unique community of work force and transitional housing with affordable rents. It is a four-story building above a one-story parking garage.  While this development has less in common with the proposed plan for Friendship Court, one of the more interesting aspects of this property was its underground parking garage.  Seeing this parking option up close gave the group a chance to see how it is secured, accessed, and used for residents and others on a day-to-day basis. There were also outside, above-ground courtyard areas that demonstrated unique uses of space.  Some mentioned how much they enjoyed the common areas and other features, such as street-level walk-in units and a café room.

Old Town commons

The final stop on the tour was Old Town Commons in Alexandria, comprised of newly constructed affordable and market-rate townhomes.  In partnership with the Alexandria Redevelopment and Housing Authority, EYA redeveloped five city blocks once home to 194 units of aging public housing. The newly-constructed rental homes blend in seamlessly along Old Town’s historic streets, connecting a metro station to the Potomac River. This project achieved LEED certification which has significantly enhanced the living experience for the city’s residents, including central air and heat and in-unit washers and dryers.  The scale of this property seemed to be consistent with Charlottesville. This mix of townhomes and multi-family buildings provides renters and home owners with choices in the type of housing that best works for families, singles, and seniors both in terms of design and affordability.  Areas of focus in the development of Old Town Commons included interconnected streets and alleys, and walking them helped demonstrate connectivity within the neighborhood.

inside at bus tour

“The group has a much better understanding now of the proposed project and how it fits in an urban community.  They also better understand that they are not alone in helping solve the residential urban condition,” said lead architect Mel Thompson of Grimm + Parker.  Mel was very involved in the development of The SeVerna and The SeVerna on K Street and shared much of his first-hand knowledge about working on this project.

Project Manager, Beth Kennan added, “It was just a great opportunity for residents, board members, staff, consultants, and partners to actually come together and view relevant projects together. None of these projects is exactly what the Friendship Court redevelopment will look like, but each featured unique elements, and it was a great visioning opportunity.”

bus tour inside

The day after the bus tour, the Advisory Committee participated in a follow up design charrette.  This gave them an opportunity to translate their aspirations and observations into constructive dialogue around the site plan for the redevelopment of Friendship Court. Many of them commented on how they realize better now, as a result of the bus tour, how a mixed-income redevelopment is achievable for Friendship Court. The group split up into two groups to work on further developing the different plans to highlight the priorities for the project.

Many thanks to our partners Grimm + Parker, NHT-Enterprise, as well as EYA for these informative and exciting site visits.

In January / February 2018, the committee will review plans derived from design charrettes informed by these site visits.  Soon after, discussions with the broader community of Friendship Court residents will take place in order to make sure everyone has a chance to provide input in shaping the new community plan.

For more information, contact Sunshine Mathon at smathon@piedmonthousing.org.

Light House Studio Partners with Friendship Court’s Youth Leadership Team

lighthouse with zoe

On the heels of the Virginia Film Festival, where many youth present their film projects they have participated in through the Adrenaline Film Project, is a story about aspiring filmmakers that make up the Youth Leadership Team at Friendship Court.

During the summer months, Light House Studio partnered with the Youth Leadership Team at Friendship Court to teach them self-expression through the art of film.  Zoe Cohen, former managing director, worked with the youth as part of an ongoing program entitled Keep It REEL, which is offered to youth in Charlottesville’s local community centers and schools.​ In addition to teaching the youth many diverse technical skills (cinematography, lighting, editing, and sound design), Zoe worked with the students to develop soft skills for the job market.  claudette being interviewedfilming day

The Keep It REEL workshop, which is a focus on documentary filmmaking, began with a discussion about the types and stages of filmmaking. The Youth Leadership Team watched a variety of short documentaries to learn about camera angles and how different framing affects what the filmmakers wish to convey to the audience. Viewing and discussing documentaries also taught the students the valuable skill of critiquing. This process also helped them gather ideas for their own films. The subsequent three sessions were dedicated to brainstorming ideas, writing interview questions, as well as learning about the equipment and how to work as a team. Once pre-production was complete the group began production – working as a crew to film each other’s mini-documentaries. The youth took turns as Director, Camera Operator, Sound Recordist, Slate Operator, and Interviewer.

Zoe said, “It was exciting to see the range of story ideas from personal stories to short films about hopes and dreams for the future of Friendship Court.” The Youth Leadership Team worked very hard during their final stage of filmmaking: editing. Students spent many weeks editing their documentaries and learning how to craft their story, in addition to adding sound, music, and titles.

Javisha editting

The Light House Studio program concluded in October with an intimate celebratory screening at Light House Studio’s Vinegar Hill Theatre where they got to view the final projects they worked very hard to craft.

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