Tag Archives: friendship court redevelopment

Master Plan Digest: On the Ground — The Physical Site Context of Friendship Court


While drafting the Master Plan, our design team identified several ways that the physical site of Friendship Court will impact redevelopment plans.

Elevation changes

The elevation of the Friendship Court site changes by as much as 35 feet from 2nd Street to 6th Street. In some instances, this elevation change may benefit the redevelopment by making it easier to building parking underneath buildings. However, it also creates challenges in how the new buildings can relate to the street level.

Regulatory Structure

Zoning allows for residential development up to 50’ high by right, higher than the current Friendship Court structures. Additional height would be allowed for buildings that have a mix of uses (for example, stores on the ground floor and apartments above). Current zoning would allow up to 505 units of housing on the property. The Strategic Investment Area plan recommends allowing higher density on the site, and the City is reviewing recommended changes in zoning.

Parking regulations

Parking requirements call for as many as 1.7 parking spots for each unit of housing. That level exceeds both current and projected future needs, and it would require additional surface parking that would force us to reduce the redeveloped site’s green space.

No Displacement

Our core commitment to no displacement of current residents, even during construction, creates a unique physical constraint by requiring that the first phase of development occur within the green space along 6th Street. In addition, other plan features—more bedrooms in the new units and the need to build around current units—have a strong impact on where and when each phase of development will occur.

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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 what needs to change – and what will stay the same – in the water infrastructure on site.

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

Friendship Court Community Dinner Meeting Features Opportunities to Discuss Community’s Future

PHA Friendship Court Community Dinner Feb 16 2017Friendship Court residents gathered on February 16th at the community center to learn and share ideas about the future redevelopment over dinner with neighbors. Residents engaged with Piedmont Housing Alliance staff and the Grimm and Parker architectural team working on Phase 1 of the redevelopment.  Residents interacted with photos of other housing communities and answered the questions: What are your favorite things about Friendship Court? What do you want us to know about your community? Residents also talked with and gave feedback to other community partners related to City street planning and Charlottesville City Schools. A delicious dinner was provided by Afghan Kabob and Wayside Chicken. Kids got to indulge in fun photo booth activities during the night. Residents are encouraged to talk with Community Organizer Claudette Grant at the community center and to join us for quarterly community dinner meetings scheduled for May 11th, August 17th and November 16th.

PHA Friendship Court Community Dinner Feb 16 2017 2
The Friendship Court Advisory Committee continues to meet monthly. Their February meeting will include a kick-off meeting with members of recently-formed work groups focused on creating an Early Childhood Education Center and a Workforce Development Program. The Advisory Committee will also discuss ongoing resident engagement to inform physical and programmatic aspects of the redevelopment.

PHA Friendship Court Community Dinner Feb 16 2017 photo boothPHA Friendship Court Community Dinner Feb 16 2017 3

Master Plan Digest: Key Concepts of the Master Plan Proposal

The master plan grew out of what we heard and learned, combined with the financial constraints of the project. Below are some of the key drivers that shaped the plan.

  • No displacement of current residents means a longer development timeline and the relocation of certain amenities.
  • Providing a mixed-income environment with greater opportunities and amenities is only possible with greater density.
  • To pursue an integrated approach to development, distribute affordable units evenly across the site and throughout the buildings.
  • Locating parking below buildings creates more open space and associated amenities.
  • Relief on certain zoning requirements such as height or parking make it possible to create more housing on the site.

What we heard: The fence makes Friendship Court feel like an isolated prison.
What we propose: Remove the fence and create neighborhood blocks by extending streets into and through the site.

What we heard: Stormwater management is a critical need on the site. Existing green space is prone to flooding and underutilized.
What we propose: Bioswales and regrading can reduce the stormwater issue while providing more green space.

What we found out: Belmont is made of primarily single family homes.
What we propose: Adjust building heights to be more sensitive to the scale of Belmont.

What we found out: Second Street will be an important connector between the Mall and a redeveloped IX site.
What we propose: Ground-floor retail and community-serving amenities along 2nd St. and Hinton Ave.

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

Next week on the blog, we’ll explore issues that shaped the proposed site plan.

Source: Friendship Court Redevelopment Master Plan, December 2016 – Master Plan Proposal (Concept)

Master Plan Digest: Why Redevelopment is the Right Choice for Friendship Court

Friendship CourtFriendship CourtFor the 150 families who call Friendship Court home, redevelopment means opportunity and hope for a brighter future. For the larger community, it’s a chance to remake a large part of our downtown and get it right – adding affordable housing, jobs and infrastructure without displacing anyone.

Friendship Court will be 40 years old in 2018. It has never undergone a major renovation. The buildings are outdated, and the site plan isolates residents from the surrounding neighborhoods.

In 2018, Piedmont Housing Alliance will have the opportunity to redevelop the site. We aim to connect Friendship Court physically, economically and socially to the rest of Charlottesville.

Our goals for the new Friendship Court include mixed-income housing in a mixed-use community, with 150 units of Section 8-assisted housing, additional affordable and workforce housing, and a large complement of market-rate housing.

Our first commitment is to the current residents – to redevelop the site without displacing anyone. We’ve crafted a plan to redevelop in phases, keeping resident families on site throughout.

The Friendship Court Advisory Committee, including residents elected by their neighbors, has been essential to the creation of the master plan, advising our design team and carrying ideas both to and from the community.

What are the redevelopment goals?

1. Friendship Court Improves Quality of Life and Fosters Access to Opportunity for All of its Residents.

Mixed-income housing allows movement within the site for residents as family or financial situations change. Partners come together on the site to provide economic benefits, retail opportunities and the possibility for wealth creation.

2. Friendship Court is Physically and Socially Connected and Integrated Across the Site and to the Surrounding Area.

All 150 Section 8 units are integrated in a diverse manner across the entire site. A network of new walkable streets, pedestrian ways, and green spaces invite on-site residents of all incomes and residents of surrounding neighborhoods to interact. The site should respect and enhance the surrounding neighborhood, in harmony with the City of Charlottesville’s goals as embodied in the Strategic Investment Area (SIA) Plan. Programming connects Friendship Court in multiple ways to the community.

3. Friendship Court Respects and Values the Lives of All of its Residents

Friendship Court capitalizes on the community’s strengths, promotes cultural and economic diversity, and encourages mutual respect among all residents. Ownership and management support existing residents without differentiating between new and existing residents.

4. Friendship Court is a Great Place

Friendship Court is a local and national model for equity, sustainability, and beauty – with spaces designed to invite diverse people to build and share a sense of community.

These goals were discussed, refined, and approved by the Friendship Court Advisory Committee in February 2016.

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

Next week on the blog, we’ll explore the question: “What is a master plan?”
Source: Friendship Court Redevelopment Master Plan, December 2016 – Executive Summary (Introduction)

Master Plan Digest: What is Friendship Court

Just a few blocks from Charlottesville’s Downtown Mall sits an affordable housing development that is home to 150 families.

More than 250 children live at Friendship Court. While over half the residents have jobs, average household income is only about $11,000 a year. Each household receives Section 8 rental assistance.

Two not-for-profit organizations, Piedmont Housing Alliance and National Housing Trust, purchased the 11.75-acre Friendship Court property in 2002, in order to preserve affordable housing on the site.

In 2018, Piedmont Housing Alliance will have an opportunity to transform Friendship Court into a mixed-income, mixed-use community that is welcoming to all. Current residents will continue to live at Friendship Court during and after redevelopment.

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

Next week on the blog, we’ll explore the question: “Why redevelopment?”

Source: Friendship Court Redevelopment Master Plan, December 2016 – Executive Summary (Introduction)


Watch: Our Video about the Redevelopment of Friendship Court

Beth Kennan Helps Lead Friendship Court to Next Stage of the Redevelopment

PHA Beth Kennan Project Manager Friendship Court

Beth Kennan, a Charlottesville native, is Piedmont Housing Alliance’s project manager for the redevelopment of Friendship Court. Beth comes to Piedmont Housing Alliance with over 10 years of real estate project development and construction management experience. She earned a Masters of Professional Studies in Real Estate from Georgetown University and has overseen projects totaling more than 920,000 square feet. Beth plays a central role in moving the redevelopment plan forward, working with residents, the Friendship Court Advisory Committee, community stakeholders, engineers, and architects.

Beth’s current focus is on the important predevelopment work (civil engineering, legal, and preliminary architectural work) necessary to gain site plan approval for the first phase of redevelopment, which is funded by a substantial grant from the Virginia Housing Development Authority (VHDA).

PHA Friendship Court redevelopment rendering

One of the exciting features of the redevelopment plan incorporates an early education center at Friendship Court. In September, Beth organized a tour for of two innovative early childhood centers in Virginia, The New E3 School in Norfolk and the Weinstein JCC School in Richmond. This gave members of the board, the advisory committee, and other community partners an opportunity to experience and learn about other successful centers in the region. Another tour of early childhood centers in southwest Virginia is being planned for January.

Beth is a member of the Urban Land Institute and is keenly interested in the redevelopment and the positive effects she believes it will bring to the urban landscape in Charlottesville’s downtown. She continues to stay involved with other community organizations. When asked about the project, she said, “Most importantly, you have to work as team in any community partnership and value everyone’s opinion. No one is better than anyone else. Everyone has something to bring to the table and you have to value that.”

The master plan is complete and will be available to the public in January.

Piedmont Housing Alliance Leads Bus Tour to Early Childhood Education Centers


Alex Ikefuna, Charlottesville Neighborhood Development Services; Gail Esterman, ReadyKids; Ron Enders, PHA board member; Frank Grosch, PHA CEO; Ramona Chapman, PHA board member; Cathy Train, United Way; Sheri Hopper, PHA Advisory Committee member; Stephanie Massie, ReadyKids; Claudette Grant, PHA Community Organizer at Friendship Court; Myrtle Houchens, PHA Advisory Committee member; Erika Viccellio, United Way; Beth Kennan, PHA Project Manager; Sarah McLean, PHA Advisory Committee member; and Karen Reifenberger, PHA COO

On Tuesday, September 20, Piedmont Housing Alliance led a bus tour to explore exceptional early childhood education centers in both Norfolk and Richmond. The tour included Piedmont Housing staff, several board members, Friendship Court Advisory Committee members, and community representatives from the United Way, ReadyKids and the City of Charlottesville.

The group toured two schools: The New E3 School in Norfolk, and the Weinstein JCC in Richmond.   The schools were selected because they represent two ends of a spectrum in early childhood education philosophy. The New E3 School is based on a curriculum developed by the University of Virginia’s Center for Advanced Study of Teaching and Learning. The Weinstein JCC program is based around the Reggio Emilia philosophy of education.


The purpose of the trip is to gain information about early childhood centers that have successfully attracted a mixed income population, with an eye toward the creation of an early childhood center at Friendship Court, as an element of that community’s redevelopment, beginning in 2019.

While on the tour, participants were able to visit classrooms and play areas, talk with staff, learn about school philosophies and visions, as well as methods of operations. Key learnings from the operations help inform how multiple levels of income and tuition can be accommodated and attract a truly diverse population.

The team will compile their findings and continue the discussion with area early childhood education stakeholders, as plans for Friendship Court continue to evolve.








Friendship Court Master Plan Update

We are excited to present our work to date on the Master Plan for the future of Friendship Court. The plan incorporates the work of many of you, including Friendship Court residents, City leaders and staff, our design team, and others in the community.

For the 150 families who call Friendship Court home – including more than 250 children – redevelopment means opportunity, hope for a brighter future, and uncertainty about how it will all unfold. For the larger Charlottesville community, redevelopment represents the chance to remake a large part of our downtown and to get it right, creating new housing, jobs, and infrastructure without displacing anyone. Our goals for the new Friendship Court include mixed income housing in a mixed-use community, with 150 units of Section 8 assisted housing, additional affordable and workforce housing, and a large complement of market-rate housing.

We are excited for the future of Friendship Court, and we want your feedback. Please review the Master Plan Update and let us know what you think.

You can provide your feedback by contacting Claudette Grant, Community Organizer, at the community center, at 295-9794, or at cgrant@piedmonthousing.org. You are also welcome to provide your feedback through this quick survey below.  Please be sure to click “done” after the three questions. Thanks!

Create your own user feedback survey

Local Media Reports on the Development of the New Friendship Court Advisory Committee

Kathy McHugh, Housing Development Specialist, Alex Ikefuna, Director of Neighborhood Development Services and Marc Norman, design team member and a recent Loeb Fellow at the Harvard School of Design

As Piedmont Housing Alliance welcomes back their design team for the redevelopment of Friendship Court this week, they also welcomed their new fourteen-member advisory committee into the pre-development process.

Today’s Daily Progress article  highlights the new members of the advisory committee, seven of whom are Friendship Court residents with the balance being made up of city officials and other experts in the industry.  The goal of the committee, which will start meeting on a monthly basis with the design team, will be to provide guidance to Piedmont Housing in two primary areas: physical revitalization and community life.

Piedmont Housing Alliance will engage residents, neighbors and community partners in an inclusive and respectful process. Our goal is to develop a mixed-income, mixed-use community that is welcoming to all,” said Frank Grosch, CEO of the housing alliance.

NBC29 also reported on the new advisory committee being formed and quoted Piedmont Housing Alliance’s CEO, Frank Grosch: “This is really all about equity and the design and development of Friendship Court. It brings together world class architects and planners with the real experts in Friendship Court and that is the people who live there,” said Grosch.

CBS19 news was also present during the first joint meeting of the advisory committee and the design team in which the process of sharing information and expertise to build bridges to the community to help create equity in the design and development of the new Friendship Court.

The design team will be holding open office hours at the community center on Tuesday, February 9, from 1:00-4:00 pm and also on Wednesday, February 10, from 2:00-5:00 pm for anyone interested in sharing their thoughts or concerns about the redevelopment process.

For more information, please contact Community Organizer, Claudette Grant at 434-295-9794 or e-mail cgrant@piedmonthousing.org.