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City Council to consider purchase of land for garage

The Charlottesville City Council is set to approve the purchase of a portion of a downtown lot for a new parking garage.

The council will consider formally moving the $1.28 million needed to purchase an Albemarle County-owned portion of the parking lot at 701 E. Market St. during its meeting Monday.

It also moves two longtime Market Street businesses one step closer to oblivion.

The purchase starts the process laid out in an agreement between the city and county to keep county courts downtown and to construct a new co-located General District Court.

As part of the agreement, the city is purchasing the county’s ownership in the parcel for half of the appraised price, which was $2.56 million.

The city will then combine that parcel with the adjacent one it owns at 801 E. Market St. and use the combined land for the garage.

The city purchased the adjacent property in 2016. It is home to a Lucky Seven convenience store and Guadalajara Mexican restaurant.

Lucky Seven, the only 24-hour spot with food downtown, opened in early 1964 with plans to be open seven days a week from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. It’s unclear when it became a 24-hour store, but it has sat quietly in the same spot near City Hall ever since.

According to Daily Progress archives, the Lopez and Ornelas families opened Guadalajara in 1988 as the first “authentic Mexican restaurant in the city.” The Market Street location was the first of what has expanded to four locations in the area.

According to a staff report, Lucky Seven and Guadalajara would be allowed to remain until their leases expire. Those dates could not be determined by press time.

The proposed structure would have 300 parking spaces and 12,000 square feet of retail on the ground level. The preliminary cost estimates for construction is $8.5 million.

Per the agreement, 90 parking spaces would be dedicated for county use. The city is required to start construction no later than May 1, 2022, and have the spots available by Nov. 30, 2023.

If the city doesn’t meet deadlines, it must provide 100 dedicated spaces in the existing Market Street Parking Garage and pay the county the other half of the appraisal for its portion of the property.

The city needs to craft a final design of the parking garage, which would take about 15 months. Construction is expected to take 18 months.


In other business Monday, the council will conduct a second reading and could give final approval to regulations for electric scooters.

The proposed ordinance and permitting program for e-scooters and e-bikes cleared a first reading in November.

The ordinance would prohibit scooter use on sidewalks or on the Downtown Mall, specify where they can be parked, set speed limits and prohibit riding with headphones.

Charlottesville was in the midst of a pilot program to determine if it would allow the service in the city when the General Assembly passed a law giving municipalities until Jan. 1 to enact local regulations if they so desired. If no regulations are made by the deadline, the companies would be allowed to operate free from local ordinances.

The city ordinance would set a $50 fine for parking and riding violations.

The service allows riders to pay a fee to check out the scooters through an app on their phones and then leave them for the next person to pick up. In the city, 30,000 users have made more than 200,000 trips for a total of 200,000 miles in the past year.

California-based Lime and Bird brought 100 scooters each to the city at the start of 2019, plus 40 electric Lime bikes. Bird has pulled out of the area and Lime has removed its bikes. VeoRide was approved for 150 scooters and e-bikes in November.

Maury Avenue

The council also will conduct a second reading of a rezoning for a 1.6-acre parcel on Maury Avenue.

Charlie Armstrong, of Southern Development, wants to rezone a 1.6-acre parcel at the corner Maury Avenue and Stadium Road from low to high density residential.

The council voted 4-1 to approve a related amendment to the Comprehensive Plan’s future land-use map in November.

The Comprehensive Plan, which is a guide for local land-use decisions, was last updated in 2013. The city started updating it in 2017 but work ground to a halt, and now a final proposal isn’t expected until 2021.

The application doesn’t include a site plan, but has a conceptual drawing that shows 33 units across two buildings.

The City Council meets at 6:30 p.m. Monday at City Hall, 605 E. Main St.


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