Perhaps one of the the first neighborhoods within Charlottesville to experience the benefits (and unintended consequences) of gentrification is Belmont. Belmont was not always like this. Contrast today’s image of Belmont as a hot bed of urban hipsters living in gentrified Victorians walking and riding bikes to the Downtown Mall with this fascinating paper written in 1980 by James H. Buck, Jr. (PDF):
Belmont is, at present, a lower middle class neighborhood located in the southeastern area of the city of Charlottesville, Virginia. Belmont has seen many changes in its approximately ninety years of existence.
In many ways, Belmont epitomized the changes that have been ongoing in the City of Charlottesville. People identify Belmont with Charlottesville. There have been myriad stories written about Belmont’s gentrification over the years.
My, how times change. Mr. Buck’s prediction came true:
Belmont has, in the past, somewhat of a bad reputation, but critics need to take a new and closer look at this promising neighborhood of the future.
Its proximity to the Downtown Mall is one of the driving forces behind its growth. When selling a house on Hinton Avenue a couple of years ago, I was astonished to find that the tenant had no idea where my office is – on the busiest corridor in the area – because he never left the Belmont/Downtown Mall area. (related reading: Are there two Charlottesvilles?)
Frequently parts of Woolen Mills are marketed as being in Belmont, but in reality just aren’t. You can try to capitalize on Belmont’s “buzz,” but when you get to Belmont, you know it. Generally, housing costs in Belmont range from $250,000 to $425,000, but they really run the gamut, from $150k on up. When the $400k threshold was broken – now that was news! Condos are the latest trend, with (LEED certified) green condos on the way, and new construction condos generally have not suffered the same drop off that condo conversions have.
A note from a reader:
We chose where we are in order to be able to walk to just about everything, and have not been disappointed.
Where is Belmont? Generally here.
The Belmont-Carlton Neighborhood Association.
La Taza Coffee House
Mas Tapas bar was featured in Food & Wine magazine
A recent review of Belmont’s own barbeque restaurant
I have only touched on Belmont, and welcome any additions, comments, etc. Contact me.
Read about all of the neighborhoods covered here.
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Thanks for the history. Mr. Buck acknowledges there may be inaccuracies in his report. I found a couple candidates just scanning the article. It’s hard to know what motivated Mr. Buck to write his hitory. Probably the same as has motivated me to write on local history: so it doesn’t become a secret to future generations.
Belmont annexed in 1916. Albemarle: Jefferson’s County, 1727-1976 by John Hammond Moore and the Albemarle County Historical Society says Belmont was annexed in 1938 (page 389) and that the annexation was a dress rehearsal for the more controversial annexation of 1963 (Barracks Road Shopping Center.) [I paid $25 for this book and it was worth every penny.]
The Magazine of Albemarle County History (1998) has info on Belmont Park. Paul Goodloe McInitre acquired Belmont Park in 1921 and donated the park to the city with the stipulation that “said property shall be forever maintained as a park and playground for white people.” (page 86, “From Private Privilege to Public Place: A Brief History of Parks and Park Planning in Charlottesville” by Aaron V. Wunsch.)
thanks for the comment – it is exactly what I was intending when I started this series. I have never lived in any of the neighborhoods about which I am writing, despite having lived here for 20 years and working in real estate for 6. Those who live in the neighborhoods are far more attuned to their respective histories.
I look forward to their comments.
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