A pretty nervy redevelopment plan for the south side of downtown has been proposed, Brian Wheeler reports for Charlottesville Tomorrow. An architecture firm was hired by the city to envision how to overhaul the area encompassing the Ix Building, Crescent Hall, and Friendship Court, a pretty broad swath of the greater downtown area. The plan calls for the construction of 1,300 new housing units, 1.4 million square feet of commercial space, and bringing Pollocks Branch (a stream long ago buried in pipes) back to the surface as a linear park running through the whole area. It’s all meant, of course, to be pedestrian-friendly. The rendering shows Friendship Court completely gone, replaced with the housing units—surely an alarming image to residents of the low-income neighborhood, although the involvement of the Piedmont Housing Alliance (which manages Friendship Court) in the project is probably a good sign.
At this point it’s all just a vision—there is no developer proposing to do this, and no public funding available to kick-start such work. It’s what the city is calling a “Strategic Investment Area,” and presumably if City Council wants to make this happen, they’ll start shaping planning and development guidance to facilitate that.