Everybody knows that UVA changes our region, sometimes in small ways, sometimes much larger. The “trickle-down” effect is evident economically, educationally and socially, and I suspect that this is the case in other college towns. For starters, check out their Master Plan and their Master Plan Map; in short, UVA is everywhere, and will continue to expand and provide opportunities both for their employees, students and the general public (generally).
I received the following from a reader earlier this week.
UVa’s College of Arts & Sciences is slated to expand by 200-300 faculty positions in the near future (using capital campaign funds). UVA’s South Lawn Project (expanding The Grounds across Jefferson Park Avenue (JPA) near Venable Lane) is slated for completion around 2009. The South Lawn will house the Departments of Politics, History and Religious Studies — 3 of UVa’s largest, most self-consciously “international” depts. (UVa is seeking to “internationalize” its curricular offerings and grow the size of its faculty.)
… like a lot of young faculty, we have grad school debts to pay back, and we’re first time homebuyers. We couldn’t afford Venable real estate, we preferred “more bang for the buck” in terms of square footage, and besides, we wanted to be within walking and biking distance to UVA. So we opted for Johnson Village (more here), where our house is a sweet 1.2 miles from the South Lawn.
It seems that many of the original residents of Johnson Village are now empty nesters who are “downsizing,” selling their homes — which are at an attractive price point (high $200s/low $300s) for first-time homebuyers and young families. Since buying in Johnson Village, we’ve met many other young families, including UVa faculty, who have recently moved in or are moving into the neighborhood. Many of us are highly-educated folks who value our kids’ education, but we can’t afford private school tuition in addition to our mortgage payments. Our kids are still young, but in time, we, like most of our new neighbors that I’ve met, plan to send them to the public school. (In fact, the president of Johnson ES Parent Teacher Organization is a UVa faculty member.) Greater parental involvement is key to good schools.
Long story short: UVa’s South Lawn project is going to make nearby SW C-ville neighborhoods even more attractive to certain homebuyers who value a walk-to-work lifestyle. (Developers already know this, and have begun working on new construction.) Perceptions of certain neighborhoods need to adjust to new realities and future developments.
One impact on the Charlottesville area real estate market will be continued demand for housing, likely for (relatively) affordable in-fill developments and existing housing. Aging housing presents unique opportunities – many of which have been upgraded slowly to keep with the changes in the market, but many have never been touched. Finding homes that have been lived in by only one owner for fifty-plus years is fairly common. These houses tend to be smaller than new construction, and arguably better built.
Another impact may be the further segmentation of our market. What I mean by this is that some parts of the city and county are becoming relatively ignorant of each other, as the residents don’t need to leave their respective worlds. As each neighborhood develops continues to evolve and develop and re-develop its own identity, residents may become more involved hyper-locally but less-so in the greater Charlottesville area. These existing developments are poised to take advantage of the re-emerging trends of *gasp* walking and biking to work and play.
For an interesting perspective on UVA’s growth and plans, from the recent past (2003), read this.
If there’s one truism about master plans, it is this: they change.
In an effort to better inform the community about its master planning efforts, the University has pledged to formalize the way that the city of Charlottesville and Albemarle County participate in its planning process. Specifically, U.Va. has reconstituted its Master Planning Council — charged with advising the University president on long-range physical planning issues — which includes nonvoting representatives from the city and the county.
When thinking about UVA and their autonomy and seeming unrestrained expansions, I remember reading on a local blog years ago this quote – “If it weren’t for UVA, Charlottesville would be Scottsville.” Scottsville is great, but it’s not Charlottesville (and I would hazard a guess that they would never want to be 🙂 ) UVA will continue to grow and impact the community – socially, culturally and economically. Positioning oneself to best take advantage of their offerings is a challenge.
UVA, and the ancillary industries it creates and contributes to, causes people from all over the world to move here, often times with very different perspectives. I recall one story that they had to recruit from out of the area to fill positions in the North Fork Research Park because the commute was too long for locals. But … those from other areas, when faced with their commutes find twenty minutes to be nothing.