Albemarle and Charlottesville reach new agreement on court parking

When the new joint General District Courthouse to serve both Albemarle and Charlottesville opens in a few years, county residents will be able to use either a surface lot on Market Street or the Market Street Parking Garage. That’s according to an amendment to a 2018 agreement that’s before both City Council and the Board of Supervisors. 

“The city and the county entered into an agreement to build and keep the General District Court downtown,” said Deputy City Manager Sam Sanders. 

That agreement compelled the city to provide 100 spaces and the original document stated this would be in a new parking garage to be built on city-owned land on Market Street as well as a surface lot owned at the time by both localities. 

“Council later decided not to proceed with that garage which triggered the back-up clause for providing those same spaces in the Market Street Parking Garage,” Sanders said. “Staff’s assessment proved that would be problematic and deliberations began for looking to identify an alternative.” 

701 East Market Street as seen from the city’s Geographical Information System (Credit: City of Charlottesville)

That alternative is to use the city-owned surface lot at 701 East Market for county courts parking as well as a smaller number of spaces in the garage. The city paid $2.85 million for the property next door, which contains two businesses. 

“This agreement does not, I repeat, does not impact the Lucky Seven or the Guadalajara,” Sanders said. 

Sanders said Council will make future decisions on that property. This amendment does fix up the immediate future of parking. 

“The county gets full access to 63 spaces at 701 East Market Street, five days a week during court hours for use by staff and court visitors for court business,” said Chris Engel, the city’s economic development director. “They will handle any enforcement. We will maintain the basic parking lot.” 

Albemarle will also be able to use up to 27 spaces in the parking garage via the existing validation system. 

Council will hold a second reading later this month.

“I think this is a tremendous victory for the city to not spend $10 million to $15 million on a parking garage,” said City Councilor Michael Payne. “We’re not razing a minority-owned business.” 

The city also forgoes property taxes on the 0.4 acre property which has a 2022 property assessment of nearly $2.2 million. The city does get $4,664 a month from the Lucky 7 and $6,579.30 a month from the Guadalajara. 

A previous City Council paid $2.85 million for this lot without consulting the public as part of a parking scheme that also included installing parking meters downtown. A six-month pilot program was abandoned after a public outcry. Pepperidge Farms remembers. (Credit: City of Charlottesville)

Before you go: The time to write and research of this article is covered by paid subscribers to Charlottesville Community Engagement. In fact, this particular installment comes from the December 8, 2022 edition of the program. To ensure this research can be sustained, please consider becoming a paid subscriber or contributing monthly through Patreon.

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