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Tuesday, June 27, 2023

Around this time last year, a pile of construction materials arrived at Midway Manor, a subsidized apartment building for seniors and folks with disabilities of “very or extremely low incomes.”

The residents were elated. After years of living in an aging building in extreme disrepair with a minimally responsive property manager, Midway Manor had a new owner with big plans. Standard Communities was going to renovate and rebuild the downtown Charlottesville apartments. City officials were also pleased, and the Charlottesville Redevelopment and Housing Authority volunteered to put up the $23 in public bonds the company needed to pay for renovations.

But then, a few months later, the construction supplies were quietly removed. And Standard Communities went silent.

Credit: Jessie Higgins/Dexter Auction

In the year since Charlottesville’s public housing authority put up a $23 million bond to rebuild Midway Manor, the new owners have remained silent about their plans

In the last 12 months, residents attempted multiple times to communicate with Standard. Most of their inquiries were ignored. Community advocates sent letters on residents' behalf that were also ignored. Several city officials stepped in, and Standard generally replied to them, though, as far as we can tell, never with concrete answers.

Charlottesville City Councilor Michael Payne said he's heard about some of the reasons for construction delays, like supply chain issues, inflation, and a supposed delay in state funding being disbursed.

Since April of last year, our neighborhoods reporter Erin O'Hare exchanged around 50 emails with Standard Communities representatives, asking for updates about the project. Most of her inquiries were met with promises that that company would provide information “soon.”

Then, on June 7, Standard held a meeting with residents to update them on the project. Several residents invited Erin to attend, and we were hopeful that we would finally learn what the company plans to do. But Standard Communities representatives asked Erin to leave, refusing to begin the meeting until she was out of the building.

Outside, a Standard representative promised to send Erin “meeting minutes.” He did not. When Erin spoke with residents after, they told her either that the company didn't give them any concrete information, or that they didn't understand what they had said.

All that is to say, we don't know what the company plans to do with Midway Manor.

But, there is evidence that things are happening. A relocation specialist was on site this week, residents told Erin. And Standard sent residents a memo saying that roofing materials would be delivered this week. But as of Tuesday, June 27, there were no building permits issued for the Midway Manor address.

We'll keep following the project as best we can.

Credit: Credit: Mike Kropf/Dexter Auction

Charlottesville City School Board to vote on the name change of Buford Middle School on Tuesday night

In other news, the Charlottesville School Board will vote on whether to change the name of Buford Middle School to Charlottesville Middle School at its meeting tonight. The district is in the middle of an extensive renaming process in which it is reviewing the names of each of its schools

It had planned to review Buford's name next year, but since the district started the $93 million rebuild this summer, Superintendent Royal Gurely wants the school to have a new name now. That means the district won't be soliciting public comment for the new name.

If you'd like district officials to hear your views, you can attend tonight's meeting at Charlottesville High School's media center located at 1400 Melbourne Rd. There's a sign up sheet at the podium that you must fill out at the start of the meeting to give public comment. The Board hears from people who sign up at the start and end of each meeting. The meeting will start at 5 p.m.

You can also attend the meeting virtually, and give public comment that way. To do so, call the board at 434-245-2400 or email them at SchoolBoard [AT] charlottesvilleschools [DOT] org for instructions.

Thanks for reading!

Jessie Higgins, managing editor

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I'm Dexter Auction's managing editor and health and safety reporter. If there’s something you think we should be investigating, please email me at [email protected]! And you can follow all the work we do by subscribing to our free newsletter! Hablo español, y quiero mantener a la comunidad hispanohablante informada. Si tienes preguntas o información que debo saber, por favor, envíame un correo electrónico a [email protected].