Council green-lights Jefferson School giveaway

jeffschool-hallwayGenerations of African-American kids learned at the Jefferson School.

As expected, City Council has agreed to give away its Jefferson School/Carver Recreation Center property, a central city complex assessed at $10 million, to a private group that promises to renovate the property and lease its parts back to the City and other public service groups. The complex deal, which includes giving the group nearly $6 million in public money, was the subject of a recent Hook cover story.

The four present members of Council (Councilor Kristen Szakos was absent) voted unanimously Tuesday, September 7 to give the Jefferson School Community Partnership a 12-month option to "buy" the school for $100,000. Because the Council also agreed Tuesday to increase the planning money it's fronting the group from half a million to one million dollars, "buy" becomes a curious term.

Two amendments to the option agreement Council approved included giving Council a right of first refusal to buy back the property as well as a promised revelation of the City's lease agreement prior to the actual sale.

Tuesday's actions regarding the property also included the first reading of a rezoning that would allow the owners to operate a cafe on the premises.

The complex has been lauded as a way to secure over $6 million in tax credits to restore a structure that has won a place in the hearts and minds of many African-American families, as it long served as a school during the period of segregation. The deal has also drawn criticism for putting a history museum of questionable viability front and center, for its secrecy shrouded financial plans, and for putting millions in the pockets of contractors, not necessarily the impoverished citizens of Charlottesville.

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So they are giving away property assessed at ten million.. (on the basis that it retain its original structure) so it is probably worht 2-10 times that... and then throwing in another 6-7 million...

perhaps they could do more for the citys future by selling it without preservation of the building for 20 million, throw in the 6-7 million and provide a free collge education for any kid that goes through 12 years of school in charlottesville schools and wants to go to Piedmont. I am sure that 25 million would last for years upon years....

Maybe they'd consider giving me Buford or Walker? Oh, and 6 or 7 million$$.

So the government is going to GIVE AWAY land and money and then rent back the same property? Good move....

"a structure that has won a place in the hearts and minds of many African-American families, as it long served as a school during the period of segregation"

.... nobody under 50 can remember anything because they were not there and those over 50 should let the past go so we can move forward...

Maybe we can turn the Japanese internment camps into wally worlds complete with a roller coaster nameed the kamakazi....

Remembering the past is a good thing. Wasting millions of dollars to throw it in the faces of people with white skin who had NOTHING to do with segregation is another.

Does anyone think that a 15 year old african american viewing such a thing won't come out with a predisposition aganst whites who had zero to do with it?

This will not help heal anything between the races and most likely make it worse.

I do suppose all of the liberal whites will parade their children through there to cement a white guilt complex for yet another generation.

Blacks deserve better. Put the money into an education that will provide them with a future instead of a chip on their shoulder.

Millions in the pockets of contractors? Really?

The property is woefully under-utilized and seemingly in a state of decay and the city can't fix it. Shifting the risk of renovating the project to the private sector (with the help of in-place historic tax credits (which are state and federal)) seems like a fantastic way to breath life into a part of C'ville that has been damaged badly in its sad history. Hopefully a successful project will lead to the city selling its bus/stuff depot and something happening to the acres of unused parking spots in front of Staples.

This seems silly. Why not put out a request for bids to developers with stipulations that the historic character of the building be preserved, that space be reserved for the museum, and that a certain percentage of space be reserved for nonprofits, to be leased at below-market rates? The city is just losing money on this, and the developers are again lining their pockets. I'm as liberal as the day as long, but I have to side with the conservatives on this one.

So, the city is giving a building assessed at $10M to a private corporation and, if the corporation is unable to raise the $17M to a renovation (it doesn't appear it could raise $1M for development planning, the city will have to "buy" it back? I have lost my mind.
If the city refuses to buy it back, who gets the money from the sale, the corporation, the city or the school board? I HAVE lost my mind.
Is the city so rich that it can give away a $10M property plus the $5.8M in cash that went along with it? Shades of the Radisson/Omni deal. Yes, I have lost my mind.
@Barbara Myer, thanks for reminding us about the school boards' need for another central office and also auxillary offices. The school board had to declare Jefferson School as surplus property, according to state law, in order to get rid of it. How could it be "surplus" property if they had and have a need for it (offics)? Something sounds crooked to me, since the school board had been planning for a new central office before the bulding was deeded over to the city for no money. Now the tax payer is expected to provide $10M building _ $5.8M in cash _ money for a new central office and parking. I have been driven CRZAY.
The city is planning to spend $115M to $150M to redevelop for new low income housing and is expecting local contributions from our General Funds from future taxes and we can afford these large giveaways? We are fighting with the county board over $2.8M in state funding? CRAZY, I tell you, I AM CRAZY. Can we say that our Council doesn't have a clue about the value of a dollar, or that it doesn't know how to look at a budget comprehensively OR is this just another way our politicians have come up with to buy votes?
Of course, the various councils will say that this deal has been at least 10 years in the making so the public has had a great deal of time to weigh-in on the issue, but, in actually they did not make this deal public until less than a week before they were planning to vote on it. I hope people will remember this deal when the time comes to raise our real estate tax rate because the city doesn't have enough money to cover our ââ?¬Å?needs” because we have given it all away.

The school looks like a penitentiary... But I have good memories of two of my three teachers. Mrs. Mortensen my math teacher and Mrs. Hudson my home room teacher were wonderful.

The only reason the city owned the Jefferson School was because the Charlottesville School Board gave it to them about eight or nine years ago. The school board had failed to maintain the building for some years before they gave it away.

Now the city school system is looking for room to expand central office and is focusing on using Walker for that. Just an ironic observation.

I don't believe that celebrating one of the outstanding African-American successes of segregated Charlottesville will lead to either white guilt or black chips on shoulders. My belief is that it will enable all of us to look at the profound accomplishments of the Jefferson School educators and be proud of what they did in the face of horrific odds against success. I believe we all need to have all of our accomplishments as a legacy we inherit.

That said, I'd rather the Jefferson School were still a school, for that would be a real celebration of its success.

That seems like an excellent place to put a YMCA if the city wants to give public land away for that purpose. What could have been a win-win has turned into a lose-lose instead. Typical for C'ville city council unfortunately. Follow the money!

This is ridiculous, and just shows how out of touch and arrogant the council in Cville has become. Secret meeting with Albemarle Co. which are most likely unconstitutional and at the very least wrong, the absurd amount of money spent on studies on the future of our water, ignoring obvious chances for better recycling, re-bricking a mall that clearly serves the elite, building a YMCA on precious green space in an area that does not serve those that really need it, funding sister city activities at a time when budget money is precious and will probably become more so, schools that are failing, our largest employer pays no taxes and does not pay some of its workers a living wage, a much needed bypass that simply is mired in politics and the good old boy network. We have and always had serious racial and poverty issues in this city, that just seemed to be ignored by the powers that be, it is time we have leaders that actually will do something to serve the whole community and address it's problems without being influenced by the cville establishment. We call ourselves liberal and are so arrogant about our perfect town, when truly it is not so perfect for many of the residents who have lived here for generations. This Jefferson deal is just another slap in the face and shows who the council serves.