Business Owners Meet to Discuss Downtown Charlottesville Parking
Thursday night, business owners, property owners, and customers met at the Violet Crown to discuss the parking situation in downtown Charlottesville.
CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (WVIR) - A number of business owners on Charlottesville's Downtown Mall concerned about their bottom lines are taking up parking concerns. This all stems from the uncertainty surrounding the Water Street Parking Garage.
The two groups with stakes in the garage, the city and the Charlottesville Parking Center (CPC), have pending lawsuits dealing with the garage's rates and management.
Now, the hot commodity that is parking in downtown Charlottesville is blowing up.
Bill Banowsky, owner of the Violet Crown Cinema, says the theater wouldn't have come to the Downtown Mall if he expected parking to be an issue.
“All of the businesses down here depend upon affordable parking,” said Banowsky.
CPC owner Mark Brown asked the city to sell its stake in the Water Street Garage to his private, for-profit company.
This comes after the CPC sued the city of Charlottesville when it wouldn't let the CPC raise its prices.
“The city has counter sued the CPC. There's litigation that will have to sort itself out, but one resolution should not be, we believe and the petition states, is to sell these parking spaces because it would be like selling a public park. It’s a public asset,” stated Banowsky.
Thursday night, concerned downtown business owners, property owners, and customers met at the Violet Crown. The more than 60 people there agreed unanimously the city should not sell its parking spots.
“Because of the city validation system that's been in place for 40 years, it is affordable for the businesses to validate so their customers can park for free,” Banowsky said.
The group of downtown businesses started a petition to ask the city not to give up its stake in the Water Street Garage.
The Downtown Business Association of Charlottesville Vice Chair Joan Fenton says a lot of business owners feel the city should subsidize parking rates.
“So that they then can get the income out of the businesses, out of the taxes, out of providing jobs, and that just as they've subsidized other things, it behooves them to be a partner in some of the parking down here,” she said.
Up to this point, many of the city's discussions about the lawsuits and parking downtown have been behind closed doors.
“You don't want the word to get out about where we would be thinking about building a parking garage. If a landowner on the, say, east end of the mall realizes the city wants to build a parking garage there, his asking price is going to skyrocket. It’ll be a couple million dollars more for the citizens to pay,” said Charlottesville City Councilor Bob Fenwick.
In a statement, the city says it wants to emphasize there is no parking crisis downtown. It also says it remains committed to supporting downtown businesses by protecting the parking validation program.
Some city leaders are expected to sit down with several downtown business owners early next week.
CPC’s owner said he couldn't comment because of the ongoing litigation.