Water St. Parking Lot for Sale

We recently witnessed the closure of the last free downtown parking lot, which took a chunk out of the ever-dwindling available on-street free spaces. Today comes the news that Charlottesville Parking Center (a private corporation) is negotiating to sell their open lot on Water Street, which would remove another 125 parking spaces from the paid pool of spaces. (David Hendrick and John Yellig write about it in today’s Daily Progress.) The lot is assessed at $7M, so a sale is certainly the right thing for the corporation, but not so great for parking downtown.

Bob Stroh, manager of CPC lots, points out that there are generally about 100 spaces free in the Water Street parking garage (with Market St. often near or at capacity). That sounds good, except that this would still be a net loss of 25 paid spaces, and doesn’t allow for growth. With the amphitheater having their grand opening on Saturday night, 3,800 people are about to start wanting a place to park. I don’t think those 25 spaces are going to do it.

I got a parking ticket for no apparent reason today, parking in the metered lot on Water Street, so perhaps I’m just in a bad parking mood.

8 Responses to “Water St. Parking Lot for Sale”

  • I’m still trying to figure out the location of this. Can someone confirm if this will affect the city market on Saturdays? Can some kind soul put up a google map of the location of this parking lot?

  • This lot is right next to the City Market site, in between the market and the Water Street parking garage. You bet it will affect the City Market. Most folks shopping at the market on Saturday mornings park in this soon-to-be-developed lot. Until a couple of years ago, shoppers were even allowed to park for free in that lot.

    Charlottesville politicians seem to like to rave about how great the City Market is, but they’ve done nothing to provide a decent venue for this public treasure. It’s about to get worse. Maybe you can park at Barracks Road and schlep your melons back on the CTA bus.

  • there are generally about 100 spaces free in the Water Street parking garage (with Market St. often near or at capacity). That sounds good, except that this would still be a net loss of 25 paid spaces

    Actually, those 100 spaces already exist – they aren’t being created to compensate for the soon-to-be-historic lot, so it’s a net loss of 125 spaces.

    This really is a travesty, insofar as parking goes. Not only will this remove 125 spaces, but one assumes that whatever is built in its place is likely to generate a need for at least that many spaces, probably more. So you can forget about those 100 “empty” spaces in the Water St. garage and start trying ot figure out where these new workers are going to park their cars.

    Unless I’m mistaken, the City has been underwriting CPC’s garage construction adn supported them in other ways over the years, and if that’s the case this strikes me as a bit of profiteering on the public’s dime. Perhaps they need to be somewhat more accountable to the public’s needs, or at the very least pay back every bit of subsidy and tax breaks out of the enormous profits they’ll get by selling the lot. If they don’t, I’m not sure this will pass the smell test. Of course, yesterday Congress decided to give huge tax breaks to oil companies after their most profitable quarter in history, so why shouldn’t CPC get theirs?

    Might be nice if the City had the foresight and authority (and, if they have the authority, the cojones) to require sufficient underground parking for any structure built on the spot. Maybe one level of parking for every floor of occupancy. That would keep those new cars out of the parking equation.

  • Harry,

    Thanks for the clarification. I sense a good deal of upset feelings here, and as a weekly devotee to the city market I’m pretty stunned by this. What practical things can we do about it? Should we lobby the city to pursue other parking venues? Is there an alternate place for the city market that may be more viable?

  • Rather than lobby for other parking venues, it would make more sense to lobby for a more permanent site for the City Market. Ultimately, you can be certain that the parking lot that’s the current site of the market will be developed, too. It’s too valuable a parcel now.

    The City of Charlottesville has spent money hiring outside consultants to study the City Market and make recommendations for its future. I remember going to a public forum on that topic, probably in the mid-to-late 1990s. Lots of public interest. Great ideas. Sketches of designs. Much enthusiam. Then… nothing.

    A new, permanent site should be found. Minimal conveniences, such as awnings and water, ought to be provided. The City Market is a great community draw and can be the key to development in a chosen area. In the early 1990s, it was sited at the Jefferson School. Maybe that’s a possibility for the future. Gabe Silverman has done a wonderful job of developing the West Main Street Market, that features shops appealing to many of the same sort of folks who patronize the City Market. Maybe there’s a site on West Main Street (what about the parking lot at the train station?) where some synergy can be found?

    This really ought to be a big local issue. The City Market is the meeting point between a vital downtown Charlottesville that creates community, fills a public need for healthy, fresh food and creates economic opportunity for farmers who might otherwise face greater pressure to turn their land over to developers.

    Maybe a “Friends of the City Market” could be organized between both vendors and customers to lobby for a long-term solution? Just don’t let the city get away with another study that will raise hopes and then be ignored.

  • would the new ampth be considered as a possible home for the city market? or would the terraced space not be convertible to that use? just a thought – it would be nice to keep the market downtown (esp for downtown biz owners,) and i can’t think of that many other open spaces . . . ideas, anyone?

  • Harry,

    Thanks for sharing the thoughts. I can see clearly that we are both avid fans of the city market, but you have a longer experience than mine. The next chance I get to talk with someone from the Daily Progress I’ll suggest that they do a feature on this topic, but I think it would help if others who read cvillenews would make a similar suggestion. The lack of media attention on this issue may well be the first matter to address, but I agree about going beyond facile studies and going direct to practical solutions.

  • I went to a number of those meetings as well. The vendors are all strong in a need to be able to drive their vehicle to the selling sight and not have to schlepp crates of veggies or pottery somewhere. I agree City Market is vital, vital, vital but it remains a peripheral thing to the City.

    I’m wondering about ownership of the parking lot that’s for sale. When looking for an alternate venue for the transportation center this lot was mildly looked at, but I was told at the time by a city council member that, though the city owned part of it, it was mostly owned by CPC. I’m massively irked here that a corporation that was formed to benefit downtown businesses by providing much-needed parking is now — at the instigation of Richard Spurzem (who obviously hasn’t made enough money out of his real esate holdings to satisfy) is looking to cash in rather than fulfill its stated mission.

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