In brief: Public housing progress, Trump rally trouble, and more

The Friendship Court redevelopment is scheduled to take place in four phases over the course of seven years. Phase one, indicated above, will begin in the fall.
PC: City of Charlottesville The Friendship Court redevelopment is scheduled to take place in four phases over the course of seven years. Phase one, indicated above, will begin in the fall. PC: City of Charlottesville

Do-over

Multiple public housing developments in Charlottesville are one step closer to getting a badly needed makeover. At its Monday meeting, City Council unanimously approved two ordinances regarding the redevelopment of Crescent Halls, South First Street, and Friendship Court.

The Piedmont Housing Alliance will take the lead on the first phase of Friendship Court’s redevelopment, while the Charlottesville Redevelopment and Housing Authority will head the work at Crescent Halls, as well as the first phase of South First Street.

In this year’s budget, council allocated over $3 million to CRHA for its projects. At its meeting this week, council needed to approve the funds again into a community development corporation operated by CRHA. Constructing and redeveloping Crescent Halls and South First Street will cost an estimated $34 million in total.

Once redeveloped, Crescent Halls—which houses mostly seniors and people with disabilities—will have 98 one-bedroom, and seven two-bedroom apartments, as well as improved accessibility and amenities. At South First Street, CRHA will renovate the existing 58 units, and build 142 new ones.

For Friendship Court, PHA plans to build 35 new multi-family homes and 71 new apartments off of Monticello Avenue. Forty-six will be set aside for current residents, while others will be available to people making between 80 percent to less than 30 percent of the area median income.

Construction on Friendship Court is expected to begin in the spring.

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Quote of the week

“The grass around here looks terrible. It’s up above our knees. If we have a mayor that’s sitting on the housing board, have y’all really looked at Westhaven?

local activist Rosia Parker, calling out the poor conditions in the city’s public housing at Monday’s City Council meeting

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In brief

Trump train strain

On Sunday, Richmond City Council candidate Mike Dickinson led a “Trump Train”—a caravan of supporters in their cars—from Henrico County into the city. That caused yet another altercation beneath the Monument Avenue Lee statue, where protesters stood in the roadway, preventing the caravan’s progress. Police responded to reports that a gunshot was fired and one woman was pepper sprayed. No other injuries were reported. The statue’s days seem numbered—last week, a judge said Governor Ralph Northam can remove the Lee statue by executive order, pending one last period for appeal.

Whine and dine

A disgruntled bride is suing Pippin Hill Farm & Vineyards for $32,000 after the Albemarle winery refused to refund a deposit for a canceled wedding, reports NBC29. Heather Heldman and her fiancé pushed their May 2020 wedding back to October when COVID broke out, but even with the postponement, just 15 percent of guests said they were able to attend. Heldman asked for a full refund. Pippin offered to return $9,000, saying it will have hosted a dozen weddings by the end of the fall, and it’s not the vineyard’s fault the Heldmans’ guests couldn’t make the trip. The wedding is just the latest event that’s gone sour in 2020.

Wild times

The city continues to expand the Heyward Community Forest, a swathe of newly protected land near Ragged Mountain. Last year, the city used a $600,000 grant from the Virginia Outdoors Foundation to purchase 144 acres of land from a private owner, thus establishing the forest. At Monday’s council meeting, the city appropriated $65,000 in VOF grant money to purchase five additional acres.

PC: Stephen Barling

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