The parking wars have quieted since a judge rejected the Charlottesville Parking Center’s petition for an emergency receiver June 27 and CPC owner Mark Brown decamped to Greece.
But here in the dog days of August, CPC general manager Dave Norris, whose June 24 proposal was rebuffed by the city, offers four scenarios for settling the dispute over the Water Street Parking Garage that has smouldered since the city nixed Brown’s parking rate increase last fall.
That led to a suit and countersuit, with the city threatening eminent domain on the jointly owned garage.
What’s different this time?
“These are new options that we feel have been responsive to the concerns expressed in the previous settlements,” says Norris. “More importantly, it addresses the bigger issue of the lack of parking downtown.”
And that’s an issue that has Albemarle ready to jump ship with its general district court. The county is studying a move from historic Court Square to the County Office Building on McIntire Road with its ample lots.
“The real news is that we’re proposing to build a new garage that would keep Albemarle courts downtown that we’d pay for 100 percent,” says Norris.
That’s scenario No. 3, in which the city sells its spaces in the Water Street Garage to CPC, which builds a 300-space, state-of-the-art garage on the lot owned by the city and county at Market and Seventh streets. Upon completion, CPC would guarantee 100 spaces for county court use at no charge for 30 years.
“That could be a significant win-win-win scenario for everyone,” says Norris. “If people are concerned about parking rates, the best thing is to increase the supply.”
He also offers to sell CPC’s spaces in Water Street Garage to the city at a rate it would have to pay under eminent domain, which CPC believes is considerably higher than the $2.8 million the city offered in June. Another scenario is the city sells to CPC and takes its earnings to build another garage. During that time, CPC pledges it will not charge more than the city-owned Market Street Garage.
“One of the concerns that’s been expressed is that we’d jack up rates to the roof,” says Norris. “We’d give them two to three years to build a replacement with rates not to exceed Market Street, and honor current validation and long-term parking leases.”
The fourth scenario is for the city to continue to pursue eminent domain, which will be a lengthy and costly proposition, says Norris.
His latest August 8 proposal came hours before City Council was to meet in a closed session to discuss parking.
And his predictions on how well received his latest proposal will be?
“My sense is there is a strong desire in some quarters to litigate this out under eminent domain,” says Norris. “That’s a lose-lose. The city has already incurred $60,000 in legal bills. It hinders expanding parking downtown.” That, he says, would be on hold until the Water Street litigation is settled.
City spokesperson Miriam Dickler declines to speculate on the latest CPC proposals. “Council hasn’t discussed these yet, so I really don’t know,” she says.