In today’s Daily Progress, Brian McNeill writes that Charlottesville Parking Center Inc. intends to sell off their Water St. surface lot, the land that the Water St. parking garage is on, and 284 spaces in the Water St. garage. The organization long insisted that there was no danger of any such thing happening, pointing to their mission of 48-year-old mission of providing inexpensive parking downtown rather than profit-seeking. The trouble is that those pillar-of-the-community types are all elderly or deceased (i.e., Hovey Dabney), leaving a business that’s as interested in profit as any other. Former city manager Cole Hendrix seems to figure that’s it, telling the Progress that “now that the CPC people are retiring or passing away, like Hovey Dabney, maybe it’s the beginning of the end of an era.”
It was hard not to see this coming, particularly given last July’s news that CPC was raising rates while seeking to sell off their open lot. Now the city is entirely reliant on this private corporation to make downtown work, a corporation that in no way resembles the one that the city has come to count on. (It was only a few years ago that the city sold off the final free parking lot to a private developer, who put up that hideous rich-folks condo on the corner of Fifth and Water.) That’s launched an interesting debate within the city as to what the proper response is for the city. Mayor David Brown tells the Progress that the city should try to buy the parking lots from CPC, but Councilor Kevin Lynch counters that it doesn’t make a lot of sense to reward a company for treating the city so badly.
If you’ve got any advice for the city on this, I expect they could use it.