Could Charlottesville rectify its dearth of commercial and residential space in 2019? Put ’17’s political and social unrest behind us? Create more opportunities for minority-owned businesses?
Charlottesville Office of Economic Development Director Chris Engel thinks prospects are promising.
“I think 2018 was kind of a rebound year,” Engel says. “We are putting some time between the events in 2017 and now, and the court cases are playing out and giving us some closure. From an economic standpoint, city revenues are reflecting growth.”
According to Engel, a recent report confirmed city officials’ concerns about a low commercial vacancy rate throughout Charlottesville. But five major projects moving forward this year are expected to help. The new Center of Developing Entrepreneurs on the Downtown Mall, for example, has already begun utility work and should be completed by 2020.
“All the projects are fairly significant, and they are definitely part of the story in 2019 and 2020,” Engel says. “It is a good signal the market is responding.”
Elizabeth Cromwell of the Charlottesville Regional Chamber of Commerce, which recently launched a new leadership roundtable for area business moguls, says 2019 will see a more “diverse business community.”
“The mantra for 2019 is partnership and collaboration,” Cromwell says. “And I believe the Charlottesville business community will become more aligned with common interests and shared goals in an effort to lift all boats.”
Engel agrees Charlottesville would benefit from a more diverse business ownership pool, and the Office of Economic Development is in the process of hiring a minority business development coordinator.
Several real estate professionals say the market will continue to suffer from low inventories and see a slight dip by the end of 2019. Sasha Farmer, owner of Story House Real Estate, says prices are likely to plateau during a steady spring term, and Michael Guthrie of Roy Wheeler Realty Co. believes uncertainty about the economy and interest rates will have a significant effect.
“The real estate market will be a bit of a bumpy road,” Guthrie says. “New construction will continue to play a significant role in 2019 home sales. The good news is after a sluggish fourth quarter, there has been increased traffic through both existing homes and new home model open houses over the first few weekends of the year.”—Shea Gibbs
2018’s key economic indicators provide a glimpse of what’s coming in 2019
Charlottesville’s jobs rate held steady in 2018, aligning the metro area with the strong employment market experienced across the country. City tax revenues also tracked positively this calendar year, a good sign for things to come, according to Charlottesville Office of Economic Development Director Chris Engel.
The following is a look at C’ville’s economic health by the numbers.*
2018: $172 Million
2017: $167 Million
2016: $159 Million