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City Council reduces, waives cafe dining rent

Charlottesville’s downtown restaurants have received a reduction in outdoor dining rentals to continue safe practices amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The City Council adopted an ordinance to partially waive and reduce the fee for restaurants to rent outdoor dining space on the Downtown Mall during its virtual meeting Monday.

The fees, which are $5 per square foot, were deferred until September after the start of the pandemic.

Restaurants turned to outdoor dining at the start of the pandemic before state mandates allowed them to bring customers inside. Some restaurants have continued to focus on outdoor dining.

Last month, restaurant owners were alarmed to receive a letter saying the payments would resume and rent for previous months would be due by the end of the month.

Mayor Nikuyah Walker said the council was not told about the letter before it was sent and didn’t support it.

Economic Development Director Chris Engel said the city “felt it was useful” to reduce the fee for the spaces to encourage their use.

The ordinance waives the fee for March and April, when restaurants could not operate, and provides a 50% reduction in the fee for the time operations were restricted to 50% capacity.

Restaurants seeking to rent public parking spaces to increase outdoor dining options will receive a 50% discount.

The reductions will remain in effect until March 8, unless otherwise extended by the council.

Any accounts paid prior to the start of the pandemic or the deferral of the fees will receive a credit.


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