CHARLOTTESVILLE RESTAURANT NEWS: It’s been a difficult month for entrepreneurs in Charlottesville’s food and beverage industry. Four businesses have announced their permanent closings in the last month alone: Hardywood Park Craft Brewery, Jefferson Ale House Charlottesville (formerly World of Beer), Sugar Shack Donuts (CVille location) and Tin Whistle Irish Pub, which disclosed yesterday that December 31 would be its last day of service.
I Love CVille so very much, and I’m a business owner myself, so hearing about closings hurts my soul to the core. I was thinking this morning about common denominators with the four businesses that are shutting their doors. There’s one commonality amongst all four: a lack of convenient parking.
The “parking conversation” is a challenging one for Charlottesville residents.
On one side, you have a very vocal contingent pushing to minimize the reliance on vehicles and parking structures around Charlottesville. This group makes valid points: parking structures cannibalize the opportunities to develop affordable housing and further reinforce our attachments to vehicles, which then negatively impacts the environment through pollution.
On the other side, you have a vocal community pushing for more parking in Charlottesville, especially around its most important corridors: The Charlottesville Downtown Mall and West Main Street. This troop is primarily comprised of business owners and developers who say their customers cannot patronize their businesses because of parking inconveniences.
The soon to be built Market Street parking garage is a microcosm of this clash of perspectives. The City of Charlottesville is expected to demolish the Guadalajara and Lucky Seven on Market Street after both leases expire on October 31, 2021. A proposed parking structure will then be developed in this location that will feature 300 parking spaces and 12,000 square feet of retail on the ground level. Preliminary costs for construction are estimated at $8,500,000.
The anti-parking contingent would like the $8.5 million to be allocated to affordable housing and the improvement of schools. The pro-parking troop would like the City to allocate even more resources to improved parking solutions, including converting additional spaces around The Mall.
This dichotomy will certainly be a pressing issue for Charlottesville City Council in 2020 and will help determine the legacy of the three new councilors on the dais. This dichotomy will also go a long way in establishing the longevity of The Downtown Mall and West Main Street or the prioritization of affordable housing around our beloved city.
Please watch this closely, everyone.
Jerry Miller, CEO & Publisher
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