Alex Ikefuna

Alex Ikefuna


Alex Ikefuna is the director of the city’s Neighborhood Development Services department that oversees all development in Charlottesville, including the city’s affordable housing fund, building inspections, property maintenance, traffic engineering, and community development.


How has the city changed over the last 5 years, from a development and growth standpoint?

Are there enough tools in the city’s toolbox to adequately tackle its current housing crisis?

Is there anything from your prior work in Savannah, Georgia that you think would be good for Charlottesville to entertain?

After the comprehensive plan is finished here, is the next step to revise Charlottesville’s zoning?

How does form based code play into that?

What stuck out to you from the Housing Needs Assessment report issued last year?

What lessons can the City learn from PHA’s resident engagement process at Friendship Court?

How does Charlottesville’s racial history impact the prospects of a successful redevelopment process?

What role does UVa play in all of this?

How does the Friendship Court redevelopment plan play into the broader Strategic Investment Area plan?

Do the whiter neighborhoods, the ones with a majority of single family houses, need to be rezoned for higher density?

How will the city’s new comprehensive plan change the landscape of housing and development?

What intentional mixed-income communities in Charlottesville do you think have worked?

The Reimagining of Friendship Court

By Jordy Yager

The redevelopment of Friendship Court is slated to be the largest new construction of low-income housing undertaken in Charlottesville in more than two decades. The plan alone is groundbreaking, having been directly created by current Section 8 residents in partnership with Piedmont Housing Alliance. City staff calls it the most nuanced and complex plan they’ve ever encountered. It ambitiously attempts to balance promises of zero resident displacement with the city’s broader affordable housing needs, while also calling for hundreds of new, likely higher-income, residents to move in, as residents hope to de-stigmatize the lasting effects of poverty born out of generations of racist government policy and neglect.

This year will be the make-or-break year for Friendship Court’s redevelopment efforts. Millions of dollars in city, federal, and private funding stand between the massive plan and the highly anticipated 2020 groundbreaking. And while the green lights have begun to align and most residents are excited, the plan has its critics — those who call for greater levels of resident autonomy, greater security measures to guard against social and cultural displacement, and greater reparations for past wrongs.

In crafting this project, we’ve tried to tackle all of this and more by separating the longer narratives into five major questions:

Part 1: What is the plan?
Part 2: How did we get here?
Part 3: Does mixed-income housing work?
Part 4: Who does Friendship Court belong to?
Part 5: What’s next?

But we also wanted to give you access to as much of our reporting as possible, so we’ve created a timeline that details the history of this area, dating back 150 years, through the use of more than 130 maps, documents, archived articles, and photographs. Similarly, we wanted you to actually hear each of the two dozen long-form interviews we conducted, and not merely the portions we’ve included in the individual stories. So we’ve included more than 300 audio clips throughout the story: in the articles, the timeline, and on each person’s profile page. Our hope is that with all this, more of the picture will begin to emerge, and that, as we stand ready to make powerful and significant changes in the city, we all can help craft the solutions.