Category Archives: Advisory Committee

A Look Back at 2018 with the Friendship Court Advisory Committee

The Friendship Court redevelopment plan made tremendous progress in 2018. The year was focused on reflection and collaboration with an eye toward the future by working with the resident-led Friendship Court Advisory Committee to further the redevelopment plan and hear from all residents.

Community Engagement

We kicked off 2018 with our Courtyard Conversations series with Friendship Court residents. During these conversations, the Advisory Committee, sought feedback and input from residents on a revised site plan framework so that the architects and engineers could start drawings for Phase 1 of the redevelopment. The series kicked off in mid-February with a community dinner and then five smaller sessions were held for residents to attend in February and March. After the community gatherings, Claudette, with the help of others, went door to door to solicit as much additional input as possible.

Refining the Redevelopment Plan

The commitment to a redevelopment plan with zero displacement of residents continued in 2018 and in early June we finalized the site plan framework that addressed significant community concerns from the 2016 preliminary master plan, including reducing the number of phases, moving the early childhood center to Phase 1, and including townhomes as well as multifamily apartment-style buildings. The revised plan aims to have all Friendship Court families in their new homes within seven years.

In September, we submitted the Phase 1 Site Plan to the City for review and approval in preparation for applying for Low Income Housing Tax Credits in March 2019. The goal is for the site plan to be approved in February.

Other 2018 milestones include:

  • JulySection 8 renewal approved. In July we received notification that the new 20-year, Section 8 contract for Friendship Court was awarded. The Project-Based Section 8 operating subsidy received from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) bridges the gap between the operating costs of the property and the available rental income.
  • AugustAdvisory Committee selected Harkins Builders as General Contractor. The Advisory Committee chose Harkins Builders as the general contractor for pre-construction services for Phase One of the redevelopment. The process, which lasted throughout the summer of 2018, began with Piedmont Housing Alliance publishing a Request for Proposal (RFP), inviting qualified general contractors to apply. Piedmont Housing staff and the Friendship Court Advisory Committee reviewed proposals and conducted interviews with each builder interested in the work. Each firm went before the Advisory Committee and gave a presentation on their experience and a narrative on how they would approach the Friendship Court redevelopment.
  • OctoberPlans for maintaining green space during development revealed. The Advisory Committee worked with architects Grimm + Parker and engineer Timmons Group to balance the need for high-quality outdoor spaces with a limited land area.
  • NovemberPiedmont Housing recognized with Virginia Housing Award.  Recognized for its leadership in resident-led planning and design, Piedmont Housing Alliance was awarded a 2018 Virginia Housing Inclusive Communities Award for its work at Friendship Court at the annual Virginia Governors Housing Conference.

Looking ahead

In 2019, we look forward to finalizing floor plans, finalizing the building exterior architecture, and detailing the final components of Phase 1, including outdoor play and amenity spaces for the community. Further, we will apply for the Low-Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC) by the March deadline with the goal of beginning construction in early 2020.

Friendship Court Advisory Committee Recognized with Virginia Housing Award

L-R: Susan Dewey, Executive Director, VHDA; Melissa Yuille, Housing Counseling Manager, PHA; Erica Johnson, Director of Development, PHA;
Crystal Johnson, Friendship Court Advisory Committee and Resident; Angela Brooks, Friendship Court Advisory Committee and Resident; Sunshine Mathon, Executive Director, PHA; Frank Stoner, Board President, PHA; Karen Klick, Deputy Director, PHA; Erik Johnston, Director, DHCD.

Recognized for its leadership in resident-led planning and design, Piedmont Housing Alliance was awarded a 2018 Virginia Housing Inclusive Communities Award for its work at Friendship Court. The nonprofit organization was recognized at the annual Virginia Governors Housing Conference this month.

The Inclusive Community Award is given to projects or practices that exemplify intentional efforts to create affordable and inclusive housing opportunities. Projects and policies that result in the expansion of accessibility, income integration, and inclusiveness in neighborhoods and communities are the focus of this award.

“This recognition reflects the incredible work that the residents of the Advisory Committee have done on behalf of their community. The residents themselves have led the redevelopment efforts for their own community and their own futures,” said Sunshine Mathon, executive director of Piedmont Housing Alliance. “The passion and time invested by the members of the resident-led Advisory Committee is inspirational, and we are honored to be in a position to help make their vision for the future come to life.”

From the Virginia Governor’s Housing Conference:

“Since 1983, Piedmont Housing Alliance has been a leader throughout the Charlottesville region in developing and managing affordable housing, as well as providing financial education and assistance to struggling renters and aspiring homebuyers. In 2002, PHA and the National Housing Trust Enterprise purchased and renovated Friendship Court, a large Section 8 apartment community on 11. 75 acres in the heart of downtown Charlottesville. Friendship Court, built in 1978, replaced what had once stood as a proud African American neighborhood until urban renewal. As the opportunity to redevelop the property approached, Piedmont Housing’s board and staff adopted specific goals and strategies for Friendship Court as part of a strategic planning process. The goals called for developing the housing complex to preserve the affordable units and to ensure long-term affordability and greater opportunity for current and future residents. Perhaps most critically, redevelopment goals recognized the importance of direct accountability to the residents as well as the conviction of purpose they would bring to the planning process. Since the beginning, PHA has engaged with fellow residents to gather insights and shared information on the progress of development planning. Equally important, residents have been embraced and vested as co-designers of their new neighborhood in partnership with other members of the design team. The work the Friendship Court Advisory Committee has accomplished to date is extraordinary. Their commitment and vision have been, and will continue to be, vital to the success of redevelopment.”

Friendship Court Advisory Committee Selects Harkins Builders as General Contractor

 

 

The Friendship Court Advisory Committee selected Harkins Builders as the general contractor for pre-construction services for Phase One of the redevelopment.  The process, which lasted throughout the summer of 2018, began with Piedmont Housing Alliance publishing an RFP, inviting qualified general contractors to apply. Piedmont Housing staff and the Friendship Court Advisory Committee reviewed proposals and conducted interviews with each builder interested in the work.  Each firm went before the Advisory Committee and gave a presentation on their experience and a narrative on how they would approach the Friendship Court redevelopment.  At the conclusion of the interviews, the Committee discussed the merits of each firm. After much deliberation, the Advisory Committee selected Harkins Builders due to their deep experience and clear commitment to building high quality affordable housing.

Harkins Builders, based in Columbia, Md. has a large dedicated division focused on the construction of affordable housing throughout the mid-Atlantic region, from Baltimore to Richmond to Charlotte to Philadelphia. Their expertise and organizational dedication to developing affordable housing is the primary reason the company was selected to work with the Advisory Committee and the rest of the design team to begin the redevelopment of Friendship Court.

Friendship Court Advisory Committee Accomplishments To Date

Over the last two years, the Friendship Court Advisory Committee has provided crucial advocacy for the Friendship Court community through its thoughtful guidance and a clear conviction of purpose – the redevelopment of Friendship Court must unequivocally keep the aspirations and needs of the residents as its core focus.

The Advisory Committee is a team of nine Friendship Court residents elected by their neighbors and six members of the at-large Charlottesville community. They have met at least monthly over the past two years, sometimes twice a month during heavy work times.

Grimm+ Parker charette

In addition to engaging with fellow residents to gather insight and share information about the progress of redevelopment planning, the Advisory Committee members have been co-designing the redevelopment in partnership with other members of the design team, Grimm + Parker Architects, Timmons Group civil engineers, and Piedmont Housing Alliance staff. Part of this work is experiential, including design “charrettes” (charrettes are facilitated design brainstorm exercises) and educational trips to established mixed-income communities and successful early childhood education centers in other cities.

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The work the Advisory Committee has accomplished to date is extraordinary. Their commitment and vision have been, and will continue to be, vital to the success of redevelopment. We are deeply grateful for their time and devotion.

 

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.

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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.

Friendship Court Advisory Committee Meets with Grimm + Parker

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On October 26, 2017, the Friendship Court Advisory Committee held their monthly meeting at the architecture firm Grimm + Parker’s downtown Charlottesville offices. As background, the Advisory Committee is comprised of nine Friendship Court residents and six subject matter Charlottesville residents; last year, after an extensive interview process, the Advisory Committee selected Grimm + Parker to work with us through the design of the redevelopment.

This joint architect and Advisory Committee meeting took the form of a design charrette.  A charrette is a process of thoughtfully exploring design options for a site or building. In this case, the charrette focused on the Phase 1 of redevelopment for Friendship Court.

At this first design charrette, those gathered took a very close look at the details of Phase 1 of the redevelopment to better understand the options and priorities. Some of the questions posed were: What are the physical constraints of the site? What building types should be provided for residents? What are the pros and cons of different parking plans?

Grimm+ Parker charette

By the end of the meeting, it became clear that we need to find the right balance of families with different incomes to create a successful project. The group considered the values and desires of both current and potential future Friendship Court residents in conjunction with the physical design challenges. One resident member of the committee said, “We knew there was a lot involved, but really had no idea how much!”

On November 29, the group will take a bus to Washington, DC to tour three relevant housing developments there. This trip will afford a first-hand view into the way other communities have handled similar development challenges. Those on the tour will have the opportunity to ask questions and engage directly with the residents of these housing developments. The tour will hopefully become an invaluable resource to help the committee as they delve even deeper into the project details, including phasing, construction timing, and community cohesion.

Following the bus tour, on November 30, the Advisory Committee will participate in a follow up design charrette to continue to translate their aspirations and observations.

In January / February 2018, the committee will review plans that have resulted from the charrettes and 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.

 

Friendship Court Resident Angela Brooks Becomes Newest Member of the Advisory Committee

Angela Brooks

Angela Brooks is a young mom with two teenaged sons. Friendship Court has been her home for more than fifteen years, and she’s seen a lot of changes in that time. “It’s definitely gotten better,” she says, “but there’s room for improvement.” That’s why Angela joined two committees focused on staying informed and providing input throughout redevelopment. An active member of the Residents’ Association, Angela volunteered to join the Advisory Committee as well. “I want to see what’s going on and stay informed. I want all the residents to be treated equally. I can help reassure other people in the neighborhood if I’m getting information firsthand instead of second- or third-hand.”

Angela works as a teacher of two-and-a-half to three-year-old children at Park Street Christian Preschool by day and cleans office buildings at night, leaving her little free time. It is noteworthy, then, that Angela chooses to spend some of that time attending meetings and making connections with community stakeholders involved in Friendship Court’s redevelopment.

“I think redevelopment is going to help the community be a friendlier, calmer place and a good place to call home. I’m looking forward to all the improvements to the apartments,” she said.

We’re delighted to have another long-term Friendship Court resident contributing to the redevelopment conversation. Welcome, Angela!

Friendship Court Residents are Shaping the Future

PHA Friendship Court Resident Shaping the Future Youth Leadership Team Advisory Committee

Throughout 2016, residents of Friendship Court of all ages have been engaged in conversations about redevelopment. Two leadership groups have emerged from this effort, the Friendship Court Advisory Committee, a team of seven residents elected by their neighbors and six members of the at-large community, and the Youth Leadership Program.

The Advisory Committee was integral in the door-to-door effort to gather feedback on the redevelopment Master Plan from each and every Friendship Court resident. Upcoming efforts will focus on gaining quality of life improvements for the community, the plan for an early childhood education center, workforce development and phase one design including architect selection.

The Youth Leadership Program consists of eight resident teens who will meet regularly over two years’ time, developing skills and offering insights for the community’s redevelopment. Sessions will focus on land use planning, community engagement, and related job skills training. In the last few months the teens have gone on a field trip to Charlottesville City Hall and learned interview and research skills from University of Virginia graduate students.

Piedmont Housing Alliance is committed to deepening and expanding meaningful relationships and leadership opportunities within the Friendship Court community to better serve the residents that live there.

 

Piedmont Housing Alliance Leads Bus Tour to Early Childhood Education Centers

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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.

new-e3-schoolweinstein-logo

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.

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Meet Tamara Wright, Member of the Friendship Court Advisory Committee

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Tamara Wright is one of seven residents of Friendship Court nominated and elected by her fellow residents, in February 2016, to serve on the Friendship Court Advisory Committee. The committee, which has been meeting regularly with the project’s design team, is providing guidance to Piedmont Housing Alliance in two primary areas: physical revitalization and community life.

A busy mother of three, Tamara still finds ways to be involved in her community, including her service on the advisory committee. She also serves on the Urban Agricultural Collective of Charlottesville (UACC) board of directors and is a member of the Friendship Court Residents Association. UACC has been a key partner at Friendship Court for nine years.  It is so important to have dedicated community members like Tamara involved in different aspects of planning Friendship Court’s future, including building on the vision for community life that Todd Neimeier (“Farmer Todd”) and UACC have developed with local residents over many years.

In addition to raising her children, as a single mother, and her community commitments, Tamara also works part-time, and has been pursuing a degree from Piedmont Virginia Community College.