CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (WVIR) - Charlottesville is not accepting a proposed settlement over the Water Street Parking Garage.

The city says it still wants to buy spots owned by the Charlottesville Parking Center (CPC) and if not, eminent domain is still an option.

Charlottesville sent a five-page letter to the parking center Wednesday, July 6, saying it will not take a settlement offered by CPC.

The proposal would have extended CPC's management of the Water Street garage by five more years and would let the city set parking rates. However, it also demanded Charlottesville compensate CPC for any revenue lost if the city sets rates lower than market value. Both parties would have been responsible for updating and repairing the garage.

The proposed settlement was to be a resolution to a pending lawsuit filed by CPC President Mark Brown against Charlottesville over parking rates for the garage, and the city's countersuit seeking a trial by jury.

"I definitely think they have been trying to bully us, trying to rush us. They've been threatening the public and have been creating an atmosphere of false crisis," said Charlottesville Mayor Mike Signer.

"We want to do what's best for the public and that's accessible, affordable parking. And that's always been our bottom line," said Charlottesville City Councilor Kathleen Galvin.

In response to a settlement offer, the city said it would like to buy the parking center's spots in the garage based on an almost $3 million appraisal by the CPC.

Charlottesville is in the early stages of using eminent domain, which began with a separate appraisal of spots owned by the CPC in the Water Street garage.

“If the city has decided to continue with their eminent domain case then that's obviously going to just do nothing but escalate an already bad situation and make it much worse," said CPC General Manager Dave Norris.

Norris is not happy with City Hall's response, saying the tone of the city’s letter is not helpful nor is it encouraging.

"We've just come to the conclusion unanimously that one party ought to basically be controlling the destiny of the spaces in the garage," Signer said.

The city would also let the parking center manage the garage for another year, and not the five year extension requested by the CPC.

Norris says they're going to consult with their attorney and key stakeholders to consider what their next steps will be.

The city says it would like to work out an agreement with the Charlottesville Parking Center, but if not, council will do what it has to do to keep the garage open.

Release from the City of Charlottesville:

CHARLOTTESVILLE, VA - Charlottesville City Council has sent a letter to the Charlottesville Parking Center (CPC) in response to a letter sent to them on June 24, 2016.

In this letter, council expresses interest in resolving the parking garage issues "without a protracted and costly legal battle" and in "accommodating the needs and desires of the Downtown business community and the parking public." The city looks forward to working with CPC to accomplish these mutual goals.

Some of the major points made in the letter include:

  • After decades of productive and peaceful co-existence between the CPC, the City of Charlottesville and other parties associated with the Water Street Parking Garage Condominium Association, the current owners of CPC have now sued the City twice (one suit has already been dismissed in court) in the span of four months.
  • CPC has argued that they should have the right to set the parking rates well above current rates to maximize its profits. The original agreement that formed the association "does not contemplate pecuniary gain or profit to the members thereof . . .". The association was not designed to set parking rates that would maximize a return on investment, but rather would pursue public benefits.
  • CPC's claim that the city and CPC are obligated to set parking rates at "fair market value" is entirely without merit, having no support in fact or law. Judge Moore's recent comments from the bench when dismissing CPC's Petition for an Emergency Receiver reinforce the city's position.
  • The city has always been willing to discuss parking rates with CPC and to consider CPC's arguments about appropriate rates. The city proposed a rate increase for the Water Street Parking Garage for 2016, but that proposal was rejected by the CPC representatives on the Association Board of Directors, who instead supported increases as high as 30%. The city will always oppose rates and rate increases that are not in the best interest of the public.
  • Council agrees with CPC that a divided ownership is not sustainable, and we previously considered CPC's offer to purchase the city's parking spaces. City Council concluded that, absent an extremely compelling reason for the public good, such a sale would have compromised the fundamental value of the garage: that it remains a well-managed parking facility readily accessible to the public at affordable prices.
  • After determining that CPC's offer was unacceptable, the city made an offer to purchase CPC's spaces for an amount based on CPC's own appraisal. We believe the city's acquisition of CPC's spaces, at a price that fairly compensates CPC, is the only path forward in resolving CPC's lawsuits, threats to close the Garage and the stalemate over the management of the Garage. CPC has yet to respond directly to the city's offer.

The entire letter is available by clicking here.