City lawyer: Condemnation of Water Street Garage has begun

Attorney Tom Wolf explains how the city is moving forward to condemn the Water Street Parking Garage.
Staff photo Attorney Tom Wolf explains how the city is moving forward to condemn the Water Street Parking Garage. Staff photo

How many lawyers does it take to schedule a hearing? Well, if it has anything to do with the highly contentious battle between the city and Mark Brown’s Charlottesville Parking Center, that would be five attorneys in Charlottesville Circuit Court today to set a date for CPC’s petition for the appointment of an emergency receiver. During the hearing, the city’s lawyer from Richmond, Tom Wolf, told the judge the city had begun the condemnation process of the Water Street Parking Garage.

“We’re moving forward with the condemnation,” said Wolf outside the courthouse. That process involves getting an appraisal, making an offer and filing suit—not to be confused with the suit against CPC the city has already filed.

A June 22 hearing on the emergency receivership had been canceled, and CPC filed a motion claiming the city’s counsel falsely said that change of date was mutually agreeable to all parties. Judge Rick Moore said he was concerned with the representation that rescheduling was okay with everyone. “I don’t want that to happen,” he said.

Wolf blamed an assistant for the error.

The parking center’s attorney, Will Prince, said he was not required to give notice to all parties because of the emergency situation, with CPC’s management agreement to run the Water Street Garage expiring June 30. At that point, management of the garage reverts to the deadlocked Water Street Parking Garage Condominium Association, with its board evenly split between the city and CPC.

“It’s not an emergency,” said Wolf, who said the garage was an ongoing business and the city objected to appointing a stranger to run it.

“It’s not going anywhere,” observed Moore. He said that he wanted to hear from all parties to make an informed decision.

Ty Grisham represents the deadlocked condo association. “We’re in an untenable situation,” he said “It’s difficult for the association to have a position. We urge the court to consider all the concerns about timing.” He noted that the condo association board has to approve a management company. “Because of the stalemate, that’s not going to happen,” he said.

Prince said he had a problem with Wolf’s characterization of CPC “walking off the job,” and said the city had threatened to sue if CPC tried to close the garage. “CPC wants the garage to stay open,” he said.

Brown was not in court, but new CPC general manager Dave Norris was. Earlier today he called the city’s plan to take the parking garage “an egregious abuse of eminent domain power.”

For more on parking garage battle, read this week’s story, “Escalation Clause: City threatens eminent domain of Water Street Garage.”

cpc response to rescheduling 6-14-16