Pandora’s Box to Open at Ivy Rd. and Emmet St

Belle writes: The Lewis Mountain Neighborhood Association has filed a petition with the Commonwealth’s DEQ, calling for a delay in this monthís planned ground-breaking for UVa’s Ivy Rd. parking garage until more study can be made on the traffic impact in the area of Ivy Rd. and Emmet St. As Eric Swensen’s story in today’s Progress illustrates, discussion of traffic there opens a Pandora’s Box of controversial issues, including: the proposed Northern Connector, access to the Arena and the Arts Precinct, the VDOT gag order, and strained relations between the City, the County Board of Supervisors, and the University. (One interesting point Swensen missed is that the University has just purchased the (current) gas station property Ivy and Emmet, which might just come in handy should they want to upgrade that intersection.)

28 thoughts on “Pandora’s Box to Open at Ivy Rd. and Emmet St”

  1. Hmm, they bought the Chevron at last? If I recall correctly, that means the only thing on that stretch of road the University doesn’t own is the Expresso Italian Villa and the Econo Lodge (is it still called that?) across the street from it.

  2. Actually, IIRC, this means that they own everything along there now. I believe that the gas station was the last piece.

  3. The Ivy/Emmet intersection could provide an attractive, inviting urban space, with safe pedestrian crossings and small businesses that would serve the University community, so that students could use their cars less should they so choose. Let’s get rid of the gas station and the ugly Cavalier Inn, and replace them with the Arts precinct, a residential college, academic/administrative facilities, and some stores. And (very important) ensure that the parking facilities built near the intersection are commensurate with what the streets can reasonably handle.

  4. Their longterm plan includes making that whole Emmett Street-Ivy Road intersection an “entrance corridor” befitting that of UVa.’s aethetic standards. By doing this, they can define UVa’s bounderies better and create a more expansive campus-like atmosphere, since many of the newer buildings were built farther away. The planned purchase of the gas station has been discussed by the UVa. Board of Visitors for a while.

  5. Anonymous writes: “And (very important) ensure that the parking facilities built near the intersection are commensurate with what the streets can reasonably handle.

    As for the 500-car garage proposed for the Arts Precinct, it will be set back quite a bit from the intersection Ė all the way against the railroad tracks (if Iím reading the plans correctly!) Access will be from University Way and with a turn on to the road running below Sigma Nu, DEK, and Culbreth. (The precise name of the latter road escapes me . . .)

    Anonymous writes:: “The Ivy/Emmet intersection could provide an attractive, inviting urban space, with safe pedestrian crossings and small businesses that would serve the University community, so that students could use their cars less should they so choose.

    Again, if Iím reading the plans correctly, the current Master Plan proposes to build something crossing Ivy Rd., from the Cavalier Inn and (proposed) garage. I can only guess that this is a pedestrian overpass of sorts. Anyone know?

    Todays Regress article seemed to me like a prime opportunity to get new Mayor/Asst. Prof. of Architecture Cox’s comments on an important issue in urban design (his field!). Perhaps Cox is on vacation, or otherwise it is just another Regress failing.

  6. In my recent youth, we used to call that Chevron “Habib’s”, in reference to the assortment of kindly folks from India who worked there. They were always so understanding when my friends and I explained that we had all chanced to leave our IDs at home, but we’d like to buy the beer all the same, please.

    It’s been a long time since I last visited Habib’s. The weekend before my 21st birthday, to be precise. The selection just isn’t as tempting anymore. It was all about the customer service, really.

    So thanks for the good times, Emmet Street Chevron.

  7. When it’s done we will all marvel at how great it looks and wonder what the fuss about. UVA bought marginal business and put them to a higher and better use.

    They may be an 800 pound gorilla but they do dole out alot of banana’s to the us local chimps.

  8. I think the pedestrian overpass is planned for the North side of the railroad tracks, and will not be very close to the “Monster” garage site. As for parking facilities, I think it would in everyone’s interests for UVA and the City to collect new data in September in order to assess how much traffic that area can handle. The data that UVA is submitting to DEQ (which claims that average waiting time at the intersection is 26.4 seconds during afternoon rush hour) is an embarrassment.

  9. No one objects to the redevelopment of the intersection. Everyone wants the gas station, Cavalier Inn, etc to be replaced by attractive new University buildings. The “fuss” is solely over plans to put a 1200 car facility near one of the area’s most congested intersections, without undertaking a responsible traffic study based on accurate data. UVA needs to expand, but the streets of the community cannot handle much more traffic. Using the last good site for a residential college for the Monster Garage is just plain stupid.

  10. Anonymous writes: “I think the pedestrian overpass is planned for the North side of the railroad tracks, and will not be very close to the “Monster” garage site.

    No doubt that the “Groundwalk” is where you describe it — north of the railroad bridge. And besides its pedestrian description, there’ll nonetheless be a paved road on it for grounds crews, police cars, etc. Perhaps even buses one day.

    But what is that “Future U. Building Site” crossing Ivy Road (and attached to the Cavalier Inn) on the Master Plan?

    Calling Mayor/Professor Cox . . .

  11. The need for parking garage with the new arts area and the new arena displacing current parkers could not be greater. It has to be somewhere very near the proposed spot. Could good design make the impact less then currently proposed-yes. However I agree the parking study to be flawed until the 250 connector is built. I have thought for some time that is the real solution is this connector. Without the connector things will continue to be very bad indeed!

  12. Except that they’re really taking bananas away. You see UVa is technically part of the state government. Local government is not permitted to tax state government. Therefore, every time that UVa buys property in Charlottesville, our tax base is eroded. The Dillon rule prevents us from levying many taxes besides a property tax. So this is an attack on our primary source of funding to keep the city running.

    Charlottesville’s borders are now set in stone by an agreement with the county. We can no longer annex land to increase or borders and tax base.

    So it is you and I, Charlottesville residents, who are getting royally screwed every time that UVa buys another building or another piece of land. The budget has to work, right? So over time, our property taxes will tend to rise in order to compensate for the lost revenue. UVa’s whims come out of your pockets.

    The University reached an agreement with the city on responsible development in which UVa essentially agreed to cut it out already. However, UVa unilaterally violated the agreement with its plan for the controversial new parking garage and hasn’t looked back since.

    Another odd angle is the little-known, bizarre covenant of old which dictates that all University property is in Albemarle County. That is why UVa has it’s own police dept.- those officers have power stemming from the county, not the city. This means that as the University expands, the city is chipped away into near-sovereign county territory.

    So I have to disagree with your characterization of this as ‘higher and better use.’ UVa’s expansion, as currently conducted, is a direct attack and insult to Charlottesville.

  13. you ignore the great economic engine that UVA is. What about the grant money that comes here and pays salaries. How about the spin off in construction, salaries, buying power, and other non-govermental support jobs. Your view is just property taxes but not all the other benefits like a world class hospital.

    Here is the real question, would you rather UVA go somewhere else or is UVA the reason most of us are here?

  14. if i remember correctly from my undergrad days i believe that there was talk that an overpass would be built for pedestrians and lightrail (electric buses) to connect north grounds (the law and business schools) to central grounds (the rest of it).

    anything that would make it easier to use mass transit or bikes or to walk around uva would help everyone out. no matter how big the parking garage is its still going to be a problem for uva students to park and its still going to cause more traffic for neighbors.

  15. The University Foundation pays local real estate taxes on land it owns. When it gives the land to the University proper the taxes are no longer paid.

    When the University does take title to a parcel of land in the city it doesn’t suddenly become part of the county. The University Hospital is technically part of the city. The city/county line runs down JPA. The city collects the meal tax (3%) from the new hospital cafeteria and the county gets the meals tax (4%) from the old hospital cafeteria.

  16. No, that’s not the real question. You are offering an artificial choice between two extremes.

    I would rather that UVa behave like a responsible member of the community and honor it’s agreements with Charlottesville. I am not suggesting that it is desirable or feasible for UVa to leave.

    The University should not circumvent the authority and well-being of the city. It is generally a bad idea to have 2 seperate, competing authorities attempting to control development in a single city. Particularly when one of them is not a democratic institution. Ultimately, the City’s vision for Charlottesville is based in elections for city council. The University is not a representative democracy and has no motive for representing the well-being of Charlottesville as a whole. Nevertheless, they essentially zone their own land and generally have powers similar to that of a municipal government. I don’t care how much cash they dole out in salary- that is ethically wrong.

  17. Exactly- when the foundation gives the land to UVa the taxes are no longer paid. If only the foundation would stop doing that, everything would be fine. But the foundation *does* do that and the tax base is eroded.

    I don’t see what the meal taxes from the hospital cafeteria are supposed to justify. The fact that they pay us one sum of money owed does not negate the fact that another, greater sum is missing.

  18. You wrote, “This means that as the University expands, the city is chipped away into near-sovereign county territory. ” That is incorrect. The city/county line has remained unchanged through many years of UVa expansion. The collection of the meals tax by the city from University owned property was mentioned just as a way to prove that property does not become part of the county when it is owned by UVa.

    Please consider this: If you can’t get your facts straight and you can’t acknowledge your error why should I believe anything you say?

    BTW, what is so “near-sovereign” about the county? Counties in Virginia have far less authority over their jurisdictions than cities do. Dillons Rule applies to counties too.

  19. The customers in the privately operated hospital cafeterias are paying the meals tax, not the University. Morrisons, the contractor operating the cafeteria, acts as the tax collector.

    Why do you suppose the University doesn’t pay local real estate taxes?

  20. hope they get the delay. everything seems to point to not having it built. I just wish they would put it outside of town and bus people in from there.

  21. You wrote,”The University is not a representative democracy and has no motive for representing the well-being of Charlottesville as a whole”. This is not entirely correct. The University is control by the Board of Vistors, who are appointed by the Governor of Virginia. All bond issues for the University’s benefit and most of it’s regulations are issued by the House of Delegates and the Virginia Senate. There is indeed control by democratically elected officials. For example our two delegates, one senator, and the Governor were all elected by locals. The University is a STATE school so while there is little local elected control; it is false to say there is no elected controlling authority.

    As to motive the University does try to work with the city and county, however UVA ultimaltely must do what is in it’s self interest, for the benefit of the state as a whole. I hear no compliants about the spinoff of it’s billion dollar endowment each year, which it’s trying to grow to five billion.


  22. Why do you keep harping on property taxes and ignore the the larger benefits that the University brings this community. There are more and better jobs outside the University’s property as a direct result of the University’s investment and spinoff’s. Your narrow focus, while correct, ignores much larger and more important forces at work.

  23. Iíve got a few questions:

    1) how are those folks who park in the (proposed) Ivy Rd. garage going to cross the street to get to their destinations on Central Grounds? Or is UVa going to build a pedestrian overpass like the one Iíve just found pictured here. When are they going to build this?

    2) if these pedestrians are to use the existing crosswalks, does the UVa traffic study and the new light synchronization they will create account for good numbers (hundreds?) of people on foot (and wheelchairs, bikes, etc.) for whom traffic would need to be stagger-stopped?

    3) once this garage is built, and then so are the residential halls they plan to build on that site and further up on Emmet St. (see the master plan), what will stop the University from installing gates restricting private vehicle traffic — like those in use elsewhere on Central Grounds where pedestrian traffic is heavy?

  24. Can’t one criticize aspects of the University’s presence, yet still appreciate the benefits that they bring to the community? Good can become better. It doesn’t have to be a take-it-or-leave-it proposition.

    The University is an important and valuable part of this community. They operate to serve the citizens of the entire Commonwealth. But, if they act so as to cause locals to feel they are ignored and trampled upon, it should come as no surprise that resentment will result. People just don’t like to feel powerless in their own community.

  25. I’m quite aware of the larger benefits that the University brings to Charlottesville. I don’t deny the existence of larger forces, either.

    It’s ok to focus in on one aspect of something for a while. Right now the focus is on negative elements of UVa’s relationship with the city. Some other time the positive elements may be topical.

    I’m not saying that the perspective on this which my recent posts have offered is the absolute, total truth. They are not even *my* total perspective.

    I don’t think that I’ve really been ‘harping’ on property taxes exactly. I posted one response that examined the issue from one side and then responded to comments about it. It’s not the center of my life or anything. Which is essentially why I’m not going to waste an hour responding to every little ‘hey you’ that the post provoked.

    My suggestion is that you create an account and write up a neat little analysis of UVa’s economic effects and show how it actually compensates for the loss of property taxes in other concrete ways. Probably there are some good arguements to that effect and I’d like to see them.

    (Score: -1, No-brainer)

  26. One of the area’s most congested intersections?

    Hardly!! I don’t think it would make it in the top 10 most congested intersections in the area based on the number of cars that pass through it. This is a convenient argument for the neighborhood. The people living in that neighborhood knew or should have expected when they moved in that they would be at the mercy of UVA will development issues arise. That is the way it has been and probably will continue to be. The UVA area needs parking and it will get it. Ground will be broken on time.

    I really don’t see how a 1200 car garage will add substantially to the traffic nearby anyways. At least half the cars exiting the lot will move towards 29250 corridor, not towards that intersection.

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