Space Limitations Don't Stop Construction

By: Elizabeth Donatelli
By: Elizabeth Donatelli

December 27, 2005

Charlottesville is only about 11 sq mi and so it is land-locked--but that just encourages developers to be more creative.

Single family houses are driving much of the new development in town.

"In 27 years we had eight planned unit developments. In the two and a half years since then, we've had almost 20 planned unit developments," said Ron Higgins, Charlottesville Planning Manager.

That's twice the number or units being built every year.

"We averaged about 140 units a year over 20 years and now we're averaging 300 or more," said Higgins.

All of these new units beg the question: is there enough space?

"It might look built out if you were to look at a vacant land map, but there's so much redevelopment that goes on," said Higgins. "I don't think Charlottesville's land is running out, I just think we're getting more innovative in how we use it."

Much of the redevelopment and other new projects are built for the middle class.

"There'll be more money for the school systems and the things in the city so I actually support the development," said Melinda Elliott who has lived in the area for 26 years.

But not everyone is in favor of the new look, especially around the University.

"I think it's a little disturbing because some of those houses are very old and the architecture is very interesting and they are just kind of getting torn down in the name of making apartment buildings because I guess you can make more money out of that," said Michael Rutherglen a student at UVa who grew up in Charlottesville.

But the most attractive place to live for most students is near the University--hence the dense housing. In fact there are two large apartment buildings being built now around the 14th street area.

There will be another new development on 15th Street that has over 500 units.

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