HABITAT FOR HUMANITY IS largely known for building houses, but the group's Greater Charlottesville, Va., affiliate recently bought a trailer court site in Charlottesville and plans to redevelop it into a high-density, mixed-used neighborhood.

Unlike most trailer parks that are sold for redevelopment, however, current residents will not be displaced.

“We are going to redevelop the site with townhomes and condos,” says Overton McGhee, executive director for the affiliate. “The plan also calls for 4,000 square feet of commercial space.”

Located in the North Belmont neighborhood of Charlottesville, the 2.3-acre site is home to about 18 families who live in the Sunrise Trailer Court. Like many trailer park sites across the nation, Sunrise was slated to be sold to a private developer until Habitat stepped in and purchased the parcel for $2.1 million.

“The neighborhood association was upset about being sold to a developer, so Habitat persuaded him to assign us the contract,” McGhee says. The developer also handed over all the engineering and architectural work as part of the deal, he adds.

About eight of the existing families will purchase homes with interest-free loans from Habitat, and seven elderly residents will rent apartments from other Habitat projects. Habitat would prefer to see the commercial space go to other nonprofit groups, such as a clinic, a senior center, or the Boys Club of America, but the organization will rent space to commercial enterprises as well.

Despite having the developer's architectural plans, Habitat and the Charlottesville Community Design Center held a competition for a new master plan that would transform the site into an urban community called Sunrise Park. Out of 164 entries, three finalists were announced in July. Habitat is not obligated to use any of the plans, but McGhee says that the organization will interview all of the finalists and make a decision sometime next year.

Learn more about markets featured in this article: Charlottesville, VA.