The bad news: there’s still a serious shortage of affordable housing in Central Virginia.
The good news: “High-end neighborhood comes to Greene!”
I wonder if I’m “high-end” enough to live there? Is “high-end” like “upscale”? Because I don’t think I’m upscale. Or…wait…isn’t “high-end” just developer-speak for “expensive”?
Here’s my theory: “Upscale shopping center” translates to “rich white people can shop here and feel safe,” and “high-end neighborhood” means “rich white people can live here and feel safe.” Which is good for them, but where should I live?
37 thoughts on “A High-End Post on an Upscale Blog”
I disagree with the assumption that rich=white. By contrast therefore, wouldn’t poor=black/hispanic/chinese/et al?
Saying that it is an development that will cater to those who can afford to live there is a fair statement, but the jump to bring racism into this aspect of supply and demand is unfortunate.
High-end means just that- homes that will be marketed to the high end of the market. Consider that this is a high-end development for Greene; many other markets, it may be mid-range, or even the low end of the market.
I didn’t get that at all from Waldo’s post. I think you’re actually the one bringing that issue to this thread with your second sentance. I wouldn’t have drawn the contrast that you have. I know lots of poor white people. :)
I think the larger issue is that as Waldo said, “there is still a serious shortage of affordable housing in Central Virginia.” And that this new development won’t help that problem at all.
The bottom line is that word’s like “High End” and “Upscale” are buzz words for “Expensive” that get people thinking about money and having it (even if they don’t) which by association starts them thinking that the ideas associated with those buzz words are therefore “good”.
Which in this instance makes it easier to ignore the larger and more socially responsible issues of “affordable housing.” Not to mention the property tax issues facing the existing working class and elderly residents of Greene county because of developments such as this.
But that’s just my 2 cents.
I read that by explicitly including “white,” all others were being implicitly excluded. Why even include race in the equation?
Regarding the property tax issues and the affordability housing shortage – you are spot on; these are issues that are going to continue to impact our region.
I read that by explicitly including “white,” all others were being implicitly excluded.
Nope — that’s why I listed both rich and white. If I felt the two went hand in hand — which would be an incorrect generalization for me to make — then I would have just said “white,” figuring the “rich” was implicit.
Why even include race in the equation?
Because I can’t look at Farmington or Glenmore and think anything other than “they’re marketing to white folks.” This figure this is true a) because Farmington explicitly prohibited anybody other than white protestants until, what, the 70s? and b) have you been to these “upscale” communities? It’s a bunch of white people. It doesn’t look a whole lot like, say, downtown Charlottesville.
Here’s my theory: “Upscale shopping center” translates to “rich white people can shop here and feel safe,” — from original post by Waldo.
Here’s my theory: Waldo is implying that the developer/marketer is racist and elitist. Because it’s a leap of logic, Waldo must translate and put words in other people’s mouths. Of course, non-rich non-white people can also shop and feel safe there. A better defense of the slur is to claim you’re being provocative.
Waldo is implying that the developer/marketer is racist and elitist
No. Just elitist — the racist effects are a mere byproduct. (Economic disparity often results in racial disparity. No intent is necessary.)
More to the point, these types of developers are, in fact, elitist by definition — hence words like “exclusive.” Exclusive is a synonym for elite.
Seriously, visit one of these “upscale” shopping malls and check out what you see in the way of racial diversity. Then visit the Downtown Mall. Compare and contrast. Repeat by visiting Glenmore at lunchtime and check out who’s sitting at the tables. Then visit McDonald’s.
After this exercise, consider why the word “exclusive” is applied to such establishments. Who has been excluded from the “upscale” establishments?
I hate to say it but the housing market is probably the most racially charged aspect of American life (besides the education system). A scholar by the name of Douglas Massey wrote about this very thing. You need to look no further than the suburbs of Washington DC to see just how racially charged housing markets are. The suburbs are incredibly segregated. Look at the demographics on Prince Georges County (over 60% black) and those of Fairfax (over 70% white). Many of those living in Prince Georges could afford Fairfax but as we saw wtih the “great white flight” in the 1950s, when minorities move in most of elitist move out. I caught an interesting story in the Washington Post the other day when they were talking about people who live in the exurbs, which they considered Prince William. Take a look at this story ( http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2005/10/24/AR2005102402037_2.html) Pay close attention to the quote the women gives regarding why she moved from her other home. She claims it was becoming more of a “working class neighborhood,” but I’ll let you read to see how she came to that conclusion.
Going back to Douglass Massey, I think I remember him saying something like blacks were over 50% (I know its over 50% just not sure of the exact number) more likely to experience discrimination in the housing markets. Further, when whites shop for houses, they usually have to ask before they are shown houses in a minority neighborhood. The same is true for minority shoppers, they must request (usually vehemently) to be shown homes in a “white” neighborhood. A quote a remember rather clearly is something along the lines that: housing markets dont just distribute homes, they distribute education, safety, and other things essential to success in the United States. Not only that schools from black neighborhoods, say Mitchellville, MD have lower funding and facilities than a school in a white neighborhood, say Springfield or Woodbridge, VA, with incomes held constant.
In short racial discrimination is very real in the housing market and no neighborhood will become fully diverse because sadly when the minorities move in, most whites move out. Again I woud read Douglas Massey’s article on the housing markets.
I disagree. However for the sake of argument…
When you are using buzzword’s like “Upscale” and “High End” to sell Real Estate (or anything expensive) you’re being Elitist. Lots of businesses are built on the premise of Elitism, and “Upscale” and “High End” Real Estate is one of those. And “High End” was the word used in the Daily Progress article.
I fail to see how one get’s “racist” from that.
That’s very true, they can shop and feel safe there, and they too can enjoy the feelings of exclusivity that goes with the purchase of expensive things, and that proves my point as well. The market may be rich people (and demographically speaking the majority of rich people happen to be white), but anyone who wants to spend the money can shop there.
However the “non-rich” won’t be able to live there. Which get’s back to the “Real” issue that this thread should be about- Affordable Housing and the lack thereof. Not imagined issues of racism.
I am curious about the concept of affordable housing. On one hand I understand many builders problem with being forced to take all the risk. Gambling their own money, going though the approval process, being delayed by government, and then told they have to sell some houses at a signifcantly less profit (affordable housing).
But at the same time I would like to tell those builders that in the past city were usually made up of mixed neighborhoods. If no one builds affordable housing where will teachers, government workers, and support personal live? Isn’t arrogant for a builder to assert his right to build what he wants when the value of the community is often build on the lives and families that his high end homes will now exclude.
As to the racial aspect , developers care about one color and that’s green. Having dealt with a few builders I really don’t think it’s a matter of race, it’s a matter of class. That has a great deal to do with UVA. Look at the areas surrounding any elite (non metro) university in the US. They have more expensive homes and exclusive areas than simliar towns with equal populations. Great medical centers attract wealthy retirees, this isn’t racist, it’s a market driven issue of wealth and class.
The fact is, there is alot more money for developers in luxury housing. Profits can be two or three factors higher. Think about it. They build the same road and infrastructure, and sometimes less because they don’t have to build sidewalks or curbing in more remote areas. Then they can sell lots for two or three times the price. With the builders, the main expense is often labor, and for larger houses, the price goes up faster than the man-hours expended. In this case the developer is also the builder, so the money is even better. The money is not in affordable housing, and especially not in the single-family house variety.
What I find interesting in this article is when the developer takes a dig at Albemarle County, saying he is therefore moving his business to Green. Albemarle makes an effort to regulate development, thus his ire, in brief. One of those regulations attempts to obtain affordable housing. All the neighboring Counties, including Green, are close to a free-for-all. For those who have money, the money is out there to be made. So, until the neighboring Counties wise up, the affordable housing issue will remain just that, an issue.
Perhaps a better topic would be, should the free market system really be the only governing force driving homebuilding in America?
What I find interesting in this article is when the developer takes a dig at Albemarle County, saying he is therefore moving his business to Green. Albemarle makes an effort to regulate development, thus his ire, in brief. One of those regulations attempts to obtain affordable housing.
That is a marvelous point. Thank you for that.
Apparently the developers are looking south of the James as well… According to the DP real estate investors are warming up to the idea of “Fluvanning/Greening” Buckingham. Waldo I was wondering if you think development is ok so long is its not happening in Albemarle? Wouldnt it make more sense to encourage growth around Charlottesville rather than expanding futher and further out.
The end result amounts to the same thing. Eventually the islands of population grow together and you end up with one big sprawl, take a look at places like L.A., Chicago, and New Jersey.
Waldo I was wondering if you think development is ok so long is its not happening in Albemarle?
I think development is good anywhere, so long as the locality has determined the size to which they want to grow, the sort of development makes that feasible, and has financial/transportation/ecological/resource planning to support that population. All of this is best done within a state framework, as well — it’s best if Danville inform Virginia that they plan to have a population of 2,000,000. (I made that up, of course.)
Compact growth is important. I’d be much happier seeing Charlottesville add 30,000 residents than seeing Albemarle add 30,000 residents. When we build in Greene, what we’re really doing is increasing the number of people who are going to commute down 29 every day, since Charlottesville and the urban ring is where the jobs are at.
If Greene wants to have 100,000 residents, and they have a plan for how that can happen in a manner that balances all relevant ideals and strives for a high quality of living, that’s totally great.
Food for thought…
“…you end up with one big sprawl, take a look at places like L.A., Chicago, and New Jersey.”
Do you realize how proposterous such a comparison is? You’re talking about metropolitan areas that boast populations larger than all of VA.
Charlottesville will never command an urban area that expansive. The jobs aren’t here, the infrastructure and networks aren’t here— not to mention the people aren’t here. What corporations have shown interest in moving their thousand-souls workforce to this region?
We’re talking urban planning 101. Just because Greene County is proposing a development, doesn’t mean everybody who’s been dying to live in Central VA is now going to pick up, move here and send the census through the roof. Luxury “housing” is low-density development.
Charlottesville will never command an urban area that expansive.
Never say “never.” If Central Virginia grows by 1.5% each year for 150 years, that leaves us with a population of 2.3M.
If that’s so, then good luck to Dennis Rooker and all of the development geniuses of Albemarle County. And take a look at Central Virginia’s growth stats over the last 150 years. There’s sure a lot of data to suggest a swell that size would ever be realistic.
I don’t think it’s preposterous at all. I was born in Charlottesville, grew up here, and then left… during which time I’ve lived in several major cities around the country. Since I’ve returned the development that’s happened between now and then has been very significant. Fluvanna is now a bedroom community for Charlottesville and Richmond. Orange County, Culpepper and Madison are becoming bedroom communities for both Charlottesville and D.C. and are enjoying commercial growth in their own right. Not to mention the number of retiree’s that have moved to this region from the northeast and other parts of the United States. All the while Albemarle’s business growth has marched solidly and consistantly up 29 north.
I don’t know about the Job’s not being here. Looking at the Charlottesville that existed when I was growing up, and the one that is here now. I’ve often wondered myself how the economy can support the population that is here (and the only major employment generators since that time, has been the construction industry and the service economy). As for the lack of infrastructure that has never stopped development in the past.
And yes the examples I cite, do have metro areas with populations larger than the state of Virginia. But they are also examples of Communities that started out small but grew together, so that they are now effectively one contiguous community without any definitive definition between the geography that they occupy. Thus they are examples of the potential of unrestrained development.
And How close do you have to get to D.C. before you realize you can take surface streets almost all the way to the Smithsonian?
It was at one time inconceivable that Waynesboro would be a suitable bedroom community for Charlottesville, but now it is.. so much so that channel 29 has a newsroom there, and the new Lowe’s hardware store, hopes to steal business from the Charlottesville area (at least those residence in the Ivy, Western Albemarle, and Crozet areas).
It’s already happening. It doesn’t happen overnight, but the seeds are already there. And it starts when places like Waynesboro and Stanton are considered reasonable places to live to commute to a 10 or 12 dollar an hour job in Charlottesville.
While I doubt that Charlottesville will reach the size of Chicago for a lonnnngggg time I do agree with the the general idea that trvlnman wrote. Our area is an illustration of his point… Ruckersville started out as one of those islands of developments and that island is being bridged by development along 29… Look at the development in Louisa and Fluvannna and the slow but gradual bridging of that island along route 250. To get a more expansive view, look at Charlottesville and Richmond… it can be argued that the islands are being bridged with the rapid developments of Goochland, Louisa and Fluvanna counties….
If this all sounds absurd to you well look at Fredericksburg and Washington DC…. that bridge was formed years ago but i doubt anyone decades ago ever thought Fredericksburg would be part of DC…. Just a few random thoughts
In 1850, Albemarle had a population of 25,800. Today it has a population of 124,285. (Note that I’m only talking about C’ville and Albemarle here, not the surrounding counties, as is the topic of this discussion.) That’s a annual increase of 1.02%.
The growth rate has accelerated recently, though — it’s been at 1.04% for the past 10 years. Of course, the major growth is happening outside of Albemarle. Fluvanna’s rate is at 5.26% annual growth, and it’s accelerating.
Though I haven’t done the math, I suspect that when the rapid growth of the surrounding counties is factored in, our regional growth rate easily meets the 1.5% that would put us at 2.3M in 150 years. That would only be slightly accelerated from the 1.02% growth rate that we’ve seen in the past 150 years.
Note that if the growth rate were half that of Fluvanna’s — 2.65% — we’d be at 12.6M in 150 years.
“Never say “never.” If Central Virginia grows by 1.5% each year for 150 years, that leaves us with a population of 2.3M.”
straight line regression is true silly. Population growth is quite variable and there have been many years we Charlottesville didn’t grow.
straight line regression is true silly. Population growth is quite variable and there have been many years we Charlottesville didn’t grow.
The trouble is that nobody else is doing any kind of forecasting. If you have a superior method of determining the size of the Central VA population in 150 years, I hope you’ll use it to come up with a number. This is the best I can do. :)
I think perlogik’s point is (and if it isn’t I’m making it mine) that population forecasting is nothing better than a semi-educated guess. Forecasting 5, 10, and maybe 20 years you might have a decent chance of being close. In 150 years the population could be 2.3 million, it could be 23. Furthermore, city planning for a time period greater than 20 years is utterly pointless.
city planning for a time period greater than 20 years is utterly pointless.
Twenty years is the blink of an eye. Many estimates may prove to be wrong in that span, certainly, but if we can’t attempt to look beyond 20 years, we’re screwed.
When Thomas Jefferson established the University of Virginia, he wasn’t looking ahead just 20 years. He was looking to the future of Charlottesville, Virginia, and the nation, realizing that his educational institution would prove to be an intellectual and economic bedrock for the region and, indeed, the country. I suppose that he could have built the rotunda out of pine (“why plan for longer than 20 years?” he might have asked) and asked the General Assembly for only 20 years of funding. Good thing he didn’t.
When the city founders established the street plan — South, Water, Main, Market, Jefferson, High — they were considering how the city would look for the rest of its existence. That’s because the fundamental layouts of cites don’t change — the usage patterns that we established then are the same basic usage patterns that we adhere to today, and will in 150 years.
We must look ahead 20, 40, 100 years. When we build up Ruckersville, we have to consider where people will live, where they’ll work, and how they’ll travel between the two. We have to consider how much space we should allocate for the road, whether we should provide sidewalks, and the size of the population that will be supported by the supply of water.
Will our estimates of Charlottesville in 2025 be spot-on? Heck no. Our nation could bar all immigration for the next 30 years, thus eliminating all population growth in the nation. We may move into the little-known fifth stage of the Demographic Transition Model, in which death rates exceed birth rates, and there will be shrinking demands. You’re quite right that we cannot know for certain what demands will be placed upon a city in two decades. But we can look at the past, and look at we know is likely about the future, and act accordingly.
I don’t know about you, but if global climate change trends indicated that Hampton Roads will be underwater in 25 years, I’d move inland. And if I were the city manager, I’d start investing in houseboats.
thanks, you made my point much better than I did.
Waldo I agree with much of what you say. We need to plan for a 100 years. However as anything other than a discussion point, these numbers tend to become gross exagerations. Twenty years ago predicting that Albemarle population would double and Charlottesville would remain the same would have been greeted by many with giggles.
On another note, Waldo have you ever thought of putting a hyperlink FAQ in this blog so old guys like me could put in spiffy hyperlinks? Thanks
Waldo have you ever thought of putting a hyperlink FAQ in this blog so old guys like me could put in spiffy hyperlinks?
Nope — it’s 2005, you ought to have that stuff figured out by now. ;)
Seriously, here’s a quick tutorial:
If you want to link to http://www.cvilleblogs.com/, using the text “Charlottesville Blogs,” you’d just do this:
<a href=”http://www.cvilleblogs.com/”>Charlottesville Blogs</a>
In the context of a sentence, it might look like this:
Hey, Waldo, why is <a href=”http://www.cvilleblogs.com/”>Charlottesville Blogs</a> such an ugly website?
So, it’s all about the “a href” before the link and the terminating “a” tag at the end of the text that you want to link.
Feel free to post a couple of test replies here, if it helps you get the swing of things.
Waldo, I do believe in planning for growth and I recognize the complexity of doing that given the unpredictable nature of population growth. I’d like to know if you can tell me how you define the “locality” that will make a determination of what size it wants to be. Who is the “locality”? Also, once a size has been selected how does the “locality” enforce that decision? What happens if Danville get to 2 million and some other American citizen wants to move there or someone living there gets pregnant or a church wants to sponsor a refugee? What would Danville do? I don’t think there’s an easy answer but I’d like you to try and come up with what you think they should do. Thanks.
Waldo: Nope — it’s 2005, you ought to have that stuff figured out by now. ;)
Thanks, for letting me know. When you have to balance the funds in your 401k, pick out a nursing home, or want to how it was like to write a computer program using punch cards let me know. :)
I’d like to know if you can tell me how you define the “locality” that will make a determination of what size it wants to be. Who is the “locality”?
Every municipal unit ought to play a role. In Virginia, that’s cities and counties.
I should distinguish “size it wants to be” from “size it can be.” There must be metrics in place to avoid arbitrary boundaries.
What happens if Danville get to 2 million and some other American citizen wants to move there or someone living there gets pregnant or a church wants to sponsor a refugee? What would Danville do?
Enforcing population size isn’t the answer — it’s enforcing the number of housing units that makes sense. And in that case, it’s easy — don’t grant the permits for construction. If a locality has determined that their population limit is X houses — that’s the number of vehicles their roads can handle, the amount of water that they can supply, the capacity of their dump, the number of houses their fire and rescue can support, etc. — then that’s the end of the permit road.
There are other routes to accomplishing this, of course — construction permitting is just one approach.
The alternative is letting the population grow beyond its ability to be sustained, leaving people without police protection, water, or paved roads. That’s beyond reckless — it’s just crazy.
I guess I attempted, poorly, to say that your best plan is to keep your options open and plan for problems as you approach them. The city will build bridges that can last for 40 or 50 years, install 50 year pipes, or the university will build a stadium that can last for a century. Typically these are only built on the needs that are projected about 20 years down the line.
What you really end up with is a continually adapted 20 year (or thereabouts) plan.
Jefferson planned for existence of an entity, and built the buildings that were necessary at the time — buildings that would last as you mentioned. I’m certainly fairly ignorant on the subject, but I doubt his plans were so specific as to mandate the honor code, the existance of the stadium (for a sport yet to be invented) or the development of the E-school (a profession in its infancy), etc.
I have a feeling we’re probably just arguing semantics at this point.
Waldo I sitll want to know who the people are that will make the decision. You say “municipal unit”. I assume you mean the people who get themselves elected. Is that correct? I do not trust the local elected officials to regulate the supply of housing units in a way that would be fair to all who need shelter. Local governments have a strong interest in seeing high property values, both to please the people who voted for them and to have a high value tax base.
I understand that you want to indirectly regulate population growth by regulating the number of housing units. Housing for most people, rich, middle class and even most poor people is provided through the free market with cost affected by supply and demand. So if the supply is limited by the government and the cost goes up so much that many people end up paying a very high percentage of their income for housing do you see that as an acceptable consequence or should the locality fix that, and if so how?
What if the number of units reaches the maximum point set by the locality but the population continues to grow and people start crowding into the available units. It is happening already in some parts of this country. What should the locality do with the extra people who are living in a house or apartment?
The ability of our transportation network to move people will change as technology finds new ways to move cars. It will happen. Water supply methods will also change and become more efficient. What then? Would you increase the number of housing units. What if all the localities in the country decide on limits and the population of the entire country continues to grow?
I think that many people in local government try to use transportation, water supply, fire and rescue and other needs as a way to limit population. The government should instead plan and work to supply the needs of the growing population and do it in a way that minimizes the impact on open space and the quality of life of all the people. There is actually plenty of space and capacity for growth in Albemarle but it is restricted in much of the county because the people with regualtory control just don’t want to see more middle and low income homeowners and renters who cost a lot. A significant number of the commuters on 64, 250, 29, 20, 22, and 231 would be happy to live in Albemarle but they don’t because the housing market has been distorted by the limited supply of buildable land so instead they get much more house for the money by driving further. The Albemarle BOS supposedly wants to limit sprawl but they have actually caused a lot of people to move further out into adjoining counties. Part of their motivation has been a strong interest in keeping property values high. They may talk about limiting sprawl and preserving rural areas but they are thinking about a valuable tax base and the impact of different types of population growth on costs.
Enforcing population size isn’t the answer — it’s enforcing the number of housing units that makes sense. And in that case, it’s easy — don’t grant the permits for construction.
By which metric does one determine the number that “makes sense”? What beyond some arbitary number is logical? I appreciate this idealistic (IMHO) view, but wouldn’t this suggestion cause any and all “affordable” housing (read: less than $225k, for the sake of argument) to disappear? Would you advise Draconian measures such as those employed by Bolinas, CA?
We are a relatively young country and region and I agree that we should plan better and more long range but simply cutting off development after X number of units are built seems wrong on so many levels. We have a lot more growth ahead of us (barring some unforseen catastrophe) and planning for 100 years out make sense, but simply stopping all the development will cause more and different issues.
madman, a couple of points:
First, I understand that you don’t trust government but, hey, there’s really nothing I can do for you there. We live in a nation that gives government the power to kill its citizens. So long as we trust our system to do that, I suspect we can handle housing permits.
Second, it’s a big nation — growth affects some parts of the country, while others atrophy. Albemarle needs growth limits. Henry? Not so much. Our growth in Albemarle doesn’t come from birth rates, it comes from people moving here. If people can’t move here, they’ll move someplace that could really benefit from new residents and has provided incentives for people to move there, such as Henry County. I really don’t think that there’s any danger of every municipality in the nation locking down.
By which metric does one determine the number that “makes sense”?
I’m not an urban planner, so I’m not a great person to look to for determining such a metric, but I’ve got some ideas.
If hydrologists determine a maximum population that can be supported reliably by regional water supplies, that would be a reasonable limit.
If we determine the rate at which we want to be taxed and consider that we need need to increase taxes a little bit for each new resident in Albemarle, we can extrapolate that to the number of new residents that we’re willing to support with our tax dollars and cap it there.
Perhaps on a transportation basis. We can look at the maximum traffic that our roads can bear and cap population at that level.
Or, of course, a combination of many of these metrics. This presents a moving target. If we all start teleporting everywhere, there goes the road concern. If we discover a new source of water, we can lift our limit. And so on.
I agree that we should plan better and more long range but simply cutting off development after X number of units are built seems wrong on so many levels.
But what seems much more wrong is for people to die for lack of water, and for us to do nothing to prevent it. Or for our property tax rate to go up to $4 because, hey, we have to subsidize new residents. Or for people to die in house fires because our growth rate exceeded our fire departments’ growth rate.
Our communities should reflect our ability to adequately serve their needs. We should not have to scramble to serve the needs of whatever schlub decides they’re going to pack up their Westchester house and move on down to Earlysville. It’s our community. Let’s have us be in charge, not the legions of those who have not yet moved here.
As a Post Script I offer this from a friend of mine, who works in Northern VA at a Retirement Property:
For the record – in 55 years the population jump was from 250,000 to 1.2 million.
A lot can (and does) happen in 150 years.
But what were the factors that played into such sprawl? There are hundreds of corporations in the DC Metro area to support that sort of wild-growth.
Tell me some of the major employers who have moved to Central VA in the last five years… There’s absolutely no indication such a spurt is taking root.
Lastly, to get back to “where” this debate began… Greene County Supervisors have had a tough time drawing new business into the county. One building sits vacant on 29. A company was supposed to settle there, but backed out. The local media hypes new business on the way. It appears some of the media is on Greene County payrolls… It’s all hype.
Maybe, just maybe when this Ruckersville sewage treatment comes on-line will growth begin to get some serious consideration… until then.
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