CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (WVIR) - The Charlottesville City Council is considering a series of new settlement proposals over the Water Street Parking Garage.

Councilors met for an hour and a half at a closed door meeting Monday, August 8, to go over parking issues.

The city has been at odds with the Charlottesville Parking Council (CPC) over the Water Street Parking Garage and its rates. Albemarle County is also considering the possibility of moving the Albemarle District Court out of Charlottesville's Court Square because of parking limitations.

“There are a lot of moving parts about parking, about courts, about all the different things that are going on, and there were several of those issues that involve either court cases or property acquisition that staff needed to get from us before being able to move forward,” said Kristin Szakos, Charlottesville City Council member.

The city and CPC share control of the Water Street Parking Garage, however CPC owns the land underneath. CPC President Mark Brown has been fighting with the city over spaces at the garage, going so far to taking the matter to court. Charlottesville officials have responded with beginning the process of using eminent domain to take full control of the parking garage, which the CPC currently manages.

  • Scenario #1 suggests Charlottesville buys the parking garage from CPC at the, “exact price that the city would be required by law to offer if it were to proceed in its threatened eminent domain action against CPC.” However, the CPC would continue to own land for the time being, selling it “in the future at its market value” to the city.
  • Scenario #2 would have Charlottesville sell all of its spaces to the CPC. CPC would pay the city the higher of the appraisal value range plus 20 percent. The city would agree to use the proceeds from the sale toward building, “replacement spaces elsewhere downtown, in a new garage that the city would own outright and manage as its alone sees fit.” The CPC would continue to manage the Water Street Parking Garage until the new garage was built, but would agree to not charge more than the Market Street Garage, which Charlottesville already controls.
  • Scenario #3 is similar to Scenario #2, except the CPC would build a new garage at the corner of Market Street and 7th Street. That area is currently an open lot reserved for SNL Financial during business hours. CPC would open the new facility within one year of the city selling off its control of the Water Street garage, but city officials would have to guarantee speeding up regulatory approvals. CPC would provide 100 spaces to Albemarle County for court-use free of charge for 30 years. Also, all spaces in the new garage would be free on evenings and weekends.
  • Scenario #4 would be to keep the situation as-is, with the continuing court battles and no quick resolution.

The third scenario could help Charlottesville convince the county to not relocate Albemarle District Court.

"Increasing parking down here has a better chance of us allowing the court system to remain vibrant in the downtown area," said Albemarle County Circuit Court Clerk John Zug.

"We figured we would put that out there. It's a great public good, it doesn't cost the taxpayer anything, and it would be an interesting scenario in order to solve the Water Street crisis while at the same time helping to secure the courts long-term." Brown said.

The fourth scenario calls for the costly legal battle to continue to play out in court in coming months.

"I've looked at the scenarios that Mr. Brown and CPC sent over. Very interesting in talking about them with our colleagues, and seeing if we can find a solution of some sorts," said Charlottesville Vice Mayor Wes Bellamy.

Downtown Business Association of Charlottesville member Jane Fenton says she doesn't want the city to feel pressured into taking someone else's deal, no matter the cost.

"I think the city needs to make its own decisions," she said.

The Charlottesville City Council is expected to go over parking and court location issues during a closed door meeting on Monday, August 15.