Biscuit Run Development in CharlAlbemarle – DOA?

Today’s news really shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone paying attention to the Charlottesville-Albemarle real estate market. The news affects everyone in this area – politicians counting on that revenue, homeowners in nearby Mill Creek, Lake Reynovia, Foxcroft, Redfields, Mosby Mountain, Sherwood Manor and other developments as well as any property owner who lived in or visited that part of Charlottesville, transportation plans,

One question – how will the Fifth Street/Avon Street development be impacted?

The stories today will certainly be augmented by the HooK and C-Ville in the coming days:

Huge planned Biscuit Run development in danger – Daily Progress

Biscuit Run – an expensive state park – Charlottesville Tomorrow

Biscuit Run, the largest development ever approved in Albemarle County, may instead become a state park. Forest Lodge LLC, fronted by local developer, builder and banker Hunter E. Craig, is in discussions with the state to donate the 1,200 acres it owns between Route 20 and Old Lynchburg Road. …

“The business climate is such that it’s not in the investors’ best interest to proceed with development at this stage,” attorney Steve Blaine said at the time.

Charlottesville Bubble Blog:

The Breeden Family made $46.2 Million selling the parcel in 2005 to Hunter Craig. This was at the peak of the bubble–the smartest real estate transaction ever completed in this area, and one which allowed other land and home sellers to maintain champagne dreams for years.

Also at risk for never being completed, however, is the Southwood Development, 350 homesites for Habitat for Humanity, which relied upon Biscuit Run’s infrastructure improvements and funding.

The good news:

This news removes uncertainty from the Charlottesville-Albemarle real estate market. With the Biscuit Run development included, Charlottesville-Albemarle had about fifteen to sixteen thousand residential units approved for development. Having a few thousand less is a good thing.

Update 10 December 2009:

The HooK’s story prompted an excellent discussion. As did cvillenews.

Update 11 December 2009:

The Free Enterprise Forum raises some interesting points.

A brief Biscuit Run history:

6,000 More homes? March 2006

Biscuit Run Price Tag: $222 Million – cvillenews – March 2007

Hollymead, Biscuit Run Approved – cvillenews- September 2007

Biscuit Run is on hold – January 2009

One of my favorite posts – Struggles with Growth in Charlottesville/Albemarle and Beyond – April 2007

If you really want to educate yourself about Biscuit Run, spend a few hours (or days) in Charlottesville Tomorrow’s archives – podcasts and stories.

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  1. Neil Williamson December 9, 2009 at 09:53

    This project set new precedents regarding proffers and accomodations to County Government. If a project once called “a poster child for how development can make it through our process” David Slutzky in Will Goldsmith’s C-ville article, can’t be built because the barriers it voluntarily accepted are too high, should such barriers continue to be forced on other applicants?

    How will such demands impact housing in our community?

  2. Jim Duncan December 9, 2009 at 10:26

    I don’t think it couldn’t be built because of the barriers were so high, but it couldn’t be built because the Charlottesville area real estate market is where it is right now and will be so for the foreseeable future.

    Having high standards is good – particularly the transit components that were put in place for Biscuit Run.

    I think such demands will impact housing positively and negatively.

    Positively because a better quality (hopefully) of development and housing will be offered.

    Positively because fewer new units will be coming on the market, so we will be able to burn through existing housing stock.

    Negatively because costs to developers and buyers will be higher.

    Change has to start somewhere …

  3. Neil Williamson December 9, 2009 at 10:34

    Or perhaps, with such barriers to development in the development areas, more homes may be built in Albemarle’s designated rural areas where it is more expensive to deliver county services?

    Or perhaps, perhaps such development will move to outlying counties forcing workers to burn more fossil fuels and clog regional artieries?

    Ever try biking in from the Lake?

  4. Dirt Worshipper December 9, 2009 at 15:39

    Another element to this is the tourism revenue that could result. If developed correctly, a State Park could connect into our existing locations like Monticello, and help bring more jobs to the area.

    As for the growth areas and regulations, I think Neil makes some good points. Let’s reverse that though. Neil how would you go about encouraging developers to build mixed-use walkable communities? It seems to me thought that the whole concept of the growth areas was flawed to begin with. We should have prioritized redevelopment instead of subsidizing sprawl up 29 north. After all, you could take a shopping center like Seminole Square and make it a walkable community quite easily. All you need to do is remove the parking lots, drop in a parking garage, and then build apartments in the resulting additional space. That’s so much more efficient than trying to make a walkable community out of a suburb way up 29.

  5. Sara December 10, 2009 at 15:50

    Do let us know if you hear anything about the Fifth Street/ Avon Center.


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