Sunday, November 20, 2011

Apology includes Garrett urban renewal

Impact study for Downtown Mall shows Garrett zone larger than Downtown and Vinegar Hill combined.
1967 Garrett urban renewal zone.

Charlottesville, Va. – City Council passed the resolution on Nov. 7 to apologize for urban renewal. For the first time in at least a decade, the city officially acknowledged that Vinegar Hill is not the only urban renewal.

The eleventh of twelve points recognizes the much larger urban renewal project under the umbrella name Garrett Street. It affected more than a dozen streets, hundreds of residences, and scores of businesses and industries. Some seized properties are still for sale four decades later.

However, since the Mar. 25, 2004 request, the city has stalled and stonewalled in releasing the historical archives related to housing and redevelopment. By systematically omitting the Garrett project, a myth arose that Vinegar Hill is the only urban renewal in Charlottesville.

When those archives, 6,845 documents and 1,189 photos, are finally published, the ‘Vinegar Hill only’ myth will be put to rest. Then we'll be able to talk about history unrelated to urban renewal such as the town's first public school on Garrett Street in 1870, and many other pieces of local history.

Council prepares fake apology for urban renewal, Oct. 18, 2011.

City Council Agenda with background materials Nov. 7, 2011

A Resolution of the City of Charlottesville Apologizing for Destruction of Vinegar Hill

[1] Whereas the neighborhood known as Vinegar Hill was also known as the Black Business District for the Charlottesville area from the 1920’s to the late 1950’s, and;

[2] Whereas Vinegar Hill, a self-supported community, considered the hub of black culture that included a cross-section of residents from all economic backgrounds in Charlottesville, where businesses, schools, churches and homes comprised the predominantly African American neighborhood, and;

[3] Whereas businesses such as the Progressive Billiard Parlor, Jefferson Inn-Furnished Rooms, Wingfoot Shoe Shop and Inge’s Grocery provided the goods and services to African Americans who were in many cases unable to receive those services in other areas of Charlottesville as a result of segregation laws and discrimination, and;

[4] Whereas these business owners in Vinegar Hill faced intense racial discrimination in start, grow and maintain their businesses, and;

[5] Whereas the Federal Housing Act of 1937 paved the way for Charlottesville to begin consideration of public housing in this area, and;

[6] Whereas in January 1954, City Council adopted a resolution establishing a “Housing Authority” to deal with the “unsanitary and unsafe inhabited dwelling accommodations” that existed in the city, and;

[7] Whereas on June 14, 1960, the citizens of Charlottesville voted through a referendum to proceed with redeveloping Vinegar Hill under the Federal Urban Renewal Program, and;

[8] Whereas the attempt to create “a fine modern business section for the slum area…of Vinegar Hill” and a “decent standard of living” for the African American residents led to the displacement of close to 500 people and the destruction of close to 40 different businesses and churches, and;

[9] Whereas when the Vinegar Hill neighborhood was demolished, many of the displaced were moved to the new public housing community of Westhaven, and;

[10] Whereas some who lived in Vinegar Hill welcomed improved housing opportunities for the residents of the neighborhood but felt overlooked and unheard during the decision making process that led to Urban Renewal;

[11] Whereas Urban Renewal affected not only Vinegar Hill but homes and businesses along Garrett Street as well, and;

[12] Whereas some residents of Charlottesville still feel the negative consequences of Urban Renewal and continue to distrust the City government as a result;

Now therefore be it resolved that we, the undersigned members of the Charlottesville City Council recognize the African-American owned businesses, homes and property that were destroyed or damaged by the razing of Vinegar Hill; acknowledge that the events leading to the destruction of this neighborhood did not adequately include those who were to be affected; mourn the lost sense of community caused by the demolition of this neighborhood; and for the harm caused we do hereby apologize for the City government’s role in the destruction of the Vinegar Hill Neighborhood, and affirm that the lessons learned from the City’s actions will be remembered.


Post a Comment

<< Home