18 thoughts on “Planning Commission Rejects 2nd Mall Crossing”

  1. You know, the pedestrian mall in Boulder is a heck of a lot more vibrant (and seemingly successful) than our Downtown Mall…and they DO have more than one car crossing. In fact, cars can cross at nearly every block…but because of yielding to pedestrians and the flow of roads around that pedestrian mall, the number of cars crossing that mall are much fewer in comparison to what you might think the number would be. The 5 people on the planning commission who voted against the car crossing don’t know what they’re talking about. I’ve actually visited the mall less because of the awful parking and flow situations (it makes no sense to circle the mall via 10th and Ridge streets when you could easily do it from, what, 5th and 1st…or whatever the case may be). Poor decision, planners!

  2. Hooray for the Planning Commission. I own a business located on the Downtown Mall. I could be located anywhere else, but choose to be on the Mall because I (and my employees) like the pedestrian-friendly environment. We don’t need more Mall crossings. In fact, what ever happened to the promised review of the one crossing that already exists?

    What we do need is free public parking withing walking distance of the mall. I understand that real estate values have shut down all of the free public lots within a block or two of the Mall, but why can’t working people get a place to park, say, five or six blocks from the Mall?

  3. Harry- I think that’s an excellent point. As far as I know, Charlottesville still doesn’t have a parking plan. There’s some thought given to parking on the proposed West Main improvement projects, but I don’t know when that might kick in, and that still leaves downtown and Belmont out of the picture. Hopefully, a parking plan will be incorporated into the in-progress strategic planning process.
    As far as the existing crossing, the city is planning to spend $900,000 to bury lines, redo the paving, etc. to make it more safe and attractive. Not sure when though.

  4. I’m with newser, circulating around the east end of the mall via 10th street to get from market to water is a bad flow. It certainly doesn’t benefit people who are only visiting – you have to be a local to find that connection. The west end crossing is working great – it obviously doesn’t hurt the pedestrian environment, and as vehicles pick up and drop people off (including the trolley), shoppers and hungry pedestrians are being constantly injected into the businesses nearby. How could that be bad for merchants?

    As for parking, downtown has plenty. People just need to get used to the idea of parking in a garage. It cost a buck an hour, but its right on the mall. What’s a couple of dollars when you spent more than that on gas to drive your car to the mall? And that doesn’t include the fact that most of the businesses downtown validate. If you want free parking, there is tons of it within 5 or 6 blocks of the mall.

    With big free parking lots and zero interplay between different modes of transportation, downtown would be way too much like fashion square mall for my taste.

  5. For shoppers and visitors, the parking garages are great. Covered, close-by, relatively cheap (or free, with validation). But, for downtown workers, it’s expensive. People who work in retail stores, wait tables, take movie tickets, etc. find the cost of parking in downtown garages prohibititive.

    These people aren’t opposed to a safe, 10-minute walk in exchange for free parking. If there’s tons of it within 5 or 6 blocks of the mall, please tell us about it. I know, for example that some people park near the coal tower, but I think that’s private property and free parking there will soon come to an end. My suggestion is that downtown parking for workers not be left to ad hoc solutions, but that a designated area be provided. That area should be easily accessible (that is, walking a distance is okay, but crossing dangerous intersections and dangerous neighborhoods is not okay). Folks of modest means will exchange shoe leather for free parking. This suggestion would be nothing like Fashion Square Mall. More people would approach the Mall area as pedestrians.

  6. Urbanitas,

    If you think $1 an hour is cheap for parking, then clearly you’re living on a lot more money than most people do. Most of the retail workers downtown are making around $6 an hour. Can you imagine what it is like to have 20% of your income pulled right off the top, every single day before even getting to taxes, transportation, housing or any other ordinary expense?

    For tourists, fine. Let them pay $1 an hour. It’s a one-time expense. But most of the people who are actually a part of the downtown community are not tourists and they are not particularly wealthy. They are regular people living on relatively low incomes and the $1 an hour is something that we have to pay *every* hour.

  7. I live a few blocks north of the Mall and the problem, as I see it, is that it’s nerly impossible to get from the north side of the mall to the south side by car — whereas getting from the south side to the north side by car is remarkably easy. I’m not even talking about going to the mall; if you’re trying to get from High Street to Water Street by car, there are a huge number of annoying traffic obstactles impeding your progress. You either have to go all the way east to the coal tower and go around under the Belmont bridge, or you have to go all the way west to McEntire and go through the 5-point intersection.

    And don’t even get me started on no longer being able to walk to Belmont from the West end of the mall…

  8. The city offers free parking on all city streets downtown (and everywhere else). Some have restrictions on duration (2 hours on the two blocks nearest the mall) and some streets (north of mall) are resident permit during the day (but not at night). Beyond these first few blocks, there are no restrictions, and all are within the 5-6 block / 10 minute walk that Harry suggests. I don’t feel that this is an ad hoc solution at all. I do it daily (I’m not making as much as jack thinks) with no ill effects. That said, unfortunately I’m not sure that people are as willing to walk as Harry says, whick I think is the real issue. People circle the block endlessly to get a spot up front instead of saving time and gas money by parking a couple blocks farther away. We’ve been conditioned by places like albemarle square to expect a space for free right next to the door (and even there people circle to get a good spot). I’m just not sure that if the city or downtown property owners provided a big employee lot 5 blocks from the mall that their employees wouldn’t still be hunting for a space by the door. On the plus side though, a second mall crossing would make circling the block easier.

  9. I’ve said on cvillenews.com for years that there is no parking problem downtown. There are garages, and there’s on-street parking if you’re willing to walk. End of story.

    That’s not true anymore. I’m willing to park a very long way away, and if I don’t park in a garage (as I really can’t if I need to be there for more than a few hours; it’s, what, $2/hour now?), there’s nothing. I check from Garrett up to Jefferson. If I’m lucky I’ll find one by the coal tower (I check there first), and often have to park by the hospital, where there’s often a few spaces open on High.

    The City should provide free all-day parking a few blocks away from the Mall, far enough that shoppers won’t bother, but those downtown employees would be willing to walk for five minutes could swing it. It’s just too expensive for folks who work downtown to park now.

  10. Kudos to the Planning Commission for rejecting the second mall crossing proposal. The pedestrian mall needs to remain just that — a mall for pedestrians. This is a victory for all residents of the city but for families with young children especially. The city should work out the problems with flow around downtown and visibility of the mall by other means. We must preserve the treasure that is the (almost completely) automobile-free pedestrian mall. (I’ve never liked the crossing at Christian’s either.) A first step would be to improve the woefully inadequate signage in the area.

  11. Good point, cville_skeptic, on the “families with young children” aspect. The Discovery Museum is right on that block where the Mall intersects with 5th Street. There are plenty of little kids around and it’s nice that parents can let them run a few feet ahead without worrying about traffic.

  12. The Boulder mall is much wider, as I remember it. The crossing streets are less dominating, maybe. Anyway… nobody’s mentioned pollution. More crossings, more exhaust.

    I have heard the crossing helps free up the chi, Feng Shui-wise… just another reason not to take political advice from your guru.

  13. who cares? The Downtown mall is becoming a wasteland. I didn’t attend first night but I heard it was dead as a door nail. The new lobster music arena is a joke. I am curious on what the point of the new transit center being built. I still don’t see a bus stop in Albemarle where I live so I get go downtown.

    Sure there is plenty of parking downtown. But what if you are going to see a late movie. The garages closes around 11 or 12, I forget. Well there goes that for the people who want to go there after hours.

    hehe, sorry I am always the gloomer of the group :).

  14. The Downtown mall is becoming a wasteland.

    Uh. No. Every analysis has shown that foot traffic us up, up, up.

    The garages closes around 11 or 12, I forget.


  15. only on weekends

    my brother in law had to wait the next day after going out to see a late movie on a tuesday. Waterstreet I think it was.

  16. Why do we expect the city to build free parking for $6 per hour workers? There’s a vibrant group of downtown business owners — ironically CPC is a member of that. How about they build a lot for their employees? Or maybe monthly parking at the existing lots is part of employment? Or maybe employers should pay $12 per hour so employees can afford to pay for their own parking.
    As far as free downtown parking from 5am to 9pm, my choice is Monticello Avenue — there’s almost always a spot or two there, even with so many spaces temporarily out of use due to the ACAC construction.

  17. Charlottesville can build a Mall crossing for the benefit of developers. Charlottesville can sell public parking lots to developers and investors to flip for quick profits. Charlottesville can turn over our public property to a private investor/developer on a 50 year lease. Charlottesville can spend some $10,000,000 on a bus station.

    Is it asking so much that the city provide a lousy parking lot for the workers who fuel this economy? It’s part of the transportation infrastructure.

    Thanks for the tip on Monticello Avenue for parking.

  18. First Night events I went to were well attended. The line to get in the Paramount was two blocks long. Once all those people got inside, the Mall may have seemed empty. Or you might be right. Maybe people like to watch New Years on their TV’s these days.

    Summer on the other hand… you can barely get down the mall Friday & Saturday night.

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