Jefferson School City Center

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Jefferson School City Center

The Jefferson School City Center is a commercial redevelopment of the Jefferson School building in downtown Charlottesville, intended to preserve the school and use it as a community resource providing cultural, educational, and recreational opportunities. The Jefferson School African American Heritage Center and the City’s Carver Recreation Center are the center’s two anchor tenants.[1] The center is home to various other tenants, including the Piedmont Virginia Community College, the Piedmont Family YMCA, Literacy Volunteers, the Jefferson Area Board for Aging Mary Williams Community Center, the Women's Initiative, and Common Ground Healing Arts.[2]

Development History


The Jefferson School Community Partnership purchased the building and surrounding land from the city for $100,000. The City contributed $5.9 million to the project, and the Partnership borrowed the remaining funds from Union First Market Bank. The final site plan was submitted in June 2010.[3]

The partnership sought to rezone the school in March 2010 to allow for restaurants to be opened on the site.[4] The Vinegar Hill Cafe, owned by JABA, opened in the center in January 2013.

The city also sought individually protected property status,[5] which requires any exterior changes to come before the Board of Architectural Review.

Groundbreaking took place on September 14, 2011.[3] Construction was substantially complete by November 2012.[6]

African American Heritage Center

Main article: Jefferson School African American Heritage Center

The African American Heritage Center is located in the earliest built portion of the structure, on the north side facing Commerce Street. The Heritage Center honors the history of the school through its redesign of museum-quality exhibition space and offer programs in the arts, dance, language, and computer science. Congressman Tom Perriello secured an $850,000 earmark to help pay for the center's construction.[7]

Carver Recreation Center

On the south end of the building, Carver Rec hosts a gymnasium with roller skating and volleyball programs, a kitchen, craft room, dance room, gymnastics room and "kids zone". Carver is one of several recreation centers run by the Department of Parks and Recreation.

Managing Partners[8]


  1. Web. City Council Contributes $5.8 Million to Jefferson School Project, Lynn, Bridgett, Charlottesville Tomorrow News Center, Charlottesville Tomorrow, 21 May 2010
  2. Web. Tenant Information: Occupants, Jefferson School City Center, retrieved 15 Aug 2013.
  3. 3.0 3.1 Web. "Jefferson School begins its new life.", Fitzgerald, Sharon C., Daily Progress, Lee Enterprises, September 14, 2011, retrieved September 14, 2011.
  4. Web. Planning Commission Discusses Zoning Matrix, Jefferson School Rezoning, Tubbs, Sean, Charlottesville Tomorrow News Center, 29 Mar. 2010
  5. Web. Jefferson School may get local historic designation, Rachana Dixit, Daily Progress, Lee Enterprises, December 12, 2010, retrieved December 13, 2010.
  6. Web. June 2012 Construction Report, Department of Public Works, City of Charlottesville, retrieved June 28, 2012.
  7. Web. House panel OKs $850,000 for African-American center, staff report, Daily Progress, Lee Enterprises, October 20, 2010, retrieved October 20, 2010.
  8. Web. Managing Partners, Jefferson School City Center, retrieved 13 Aug. 2010.

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External links

Coordinates:Erioll world.svg.png 38°01′56″N 78°29′13″W / 38.032214°N 78.486988°W / 38.032214; -78.486988