Fewer parkers: CPC reveals third straight drop

news-cpc-jimberrybobstrohCompany president Jim Berry, left, praised general manager Bob Stroh, right, as someone who "lives, breathes, and loves" downtown.

For the third straight year, the number of cars visiting the three lots controlled by Charlottesville Parking Center has fallen. And yet that didn't stop the company, the city's oldest and largest parking company, from increasing its profitability.

The report came Thursday, March 25, at the annual meeting of the firm organized in 1959 to fend off competition from Barracks Road Shopping Center by providing free or low-cost parking to downtown businesses.

The privately-held company (of which the Hook owns a single share to gain meeting access) reported that the number of so-called "transient parkers" has fallen from about 717,000 at the 2006 peak to just 526,000 in 2009, a 27 percent decline. Monthly parking, Berry said, suffered a 15 percent decline from its peak in 2008.

news-carousel-downtownmall2One recent project Stroh spearheaded was the weeklong free carousel on the Downtown Mall.

"I hate to say it," General Manager Bob Stroh told the shareholders, "but there's nothing much we can do about it. Nobody comes downtown to park; we have those customers because other businesses attract people."

One thing Stroh was able to steer were his successful negotiations with the City of Charlottesville to win a new five-year contract to manage the City's Market Street Parking Garage, the only one of the three facilities managed in which the Center has no ownership stake. That City agreement was dated April 1, 2009.

Berry and Stroh discussed some of 2009's other bright spots, which include the May 31 completion of the rebricking of the Downtown Mall as well as the reopening of the Jefferson Theater and the Southern concert hall in the late fall.

Negatives included the cessation of construction on the Landmark Hotel, which had contracted to rent many spaces from the company, as well as a persistently poor economy, which has resulted, Berry said, in a nine percent retail vacancy rate downtown.

At the meeting, held at its accountants' offices on Westfield Road, the company revealed plans to make a $100,000 donation for some yet-to-be determined senior citizen services in the name of former company board member and late banker Hovey Dabney, whose son, Slayton Dabney, serves on the board.

During the height of the real estate boom two years ago, the company tried to position itself for sale, but that effort has ended.

news-cpc-logoThe CPC finally has a logo.

"We are in a holding pattern," said Berry, who gave up a higher salary earned during the period while trying to sell the company.

He declined to publicly release his old or new salary. However, the reduction of Berry's salary, Stroh told shareholders, helped the company increase its profit, and the financial report shows that the company paid $103,000 less last year than the prior year on salaries and fringe benefits.

So all this helped the company turn 2009–- with sales static at $2.14 million–- into a year with net income of $324,514, about 10 percent more profit than 2008.

Near the end of the meeting, Berry directed shareholders to pick up a bottle of water. Emblazened on the bottle was a white "P" in a blue circle, the company's first logo in its 50-year history. The Payne Ross advertising agency was credited with the design.


We went to see the handicapped dance program at the Paramount tonight. My wife wanted to go over to Siips for a glass of wine afterwards. First, we got a milkshake for the child at Chaps. Granny told us we just missed a big ruckus-crowd of kids came in cursing and fixin' to bust things up, picked on a couple of innocent customers and threw a bottle at the kid behind the counter before she picked up the phone and they ran off. I said: to my wife forget the wine, let's go home.

That's verifiable. As far as details about the most recent assault on my family, it's real and shouldn't be such a surprise to anyone, but I trust you guys less than you trust me. I am here to say that things are out of control, and explain why I went home early tonight.

btw, his fear is no laughing matter - he's a young child after all and I'm his father. I love him.

Just last night, after after enjoying a delicious salad and glass of wine at Enoteca, on the Downtown Mall; I was stunned to find that my parking fee at the Market St. Garage was $6. Like many couples, my husband and I are experiencing the pinch of trying to make do with less, after he has seen his salary steadily reduced and our health care premiums rising. I used to make several trips to the Mall a week, but at those rates, this is one place we can save money by not parking in the garages or paid lots downtown. I wonder if others are in the same position, and if this will negatively impact business on the Downtown Mall, and perhaps, even mean a deficit next year--not a profit for CPC ?

I agree with GSOE that much more goes on than is reported (but the reports alone should be enough to alarm reasonable people). I would go so far as to say we are being deceived, but that's just my opinion.

I saw the downtown Mall built and saw established old REAL businesses die. There are good locations for this sort of thing such as the riverfront in Morgantown, WV. But the C'ville downtown Mall never was a suitable location since it kills bona fide commerce not only on the brickyard, but on all the truncated cross streets as well. Of all the small cities which built these things in the seventies, it is the case that many have ripped them up and restored normal organic traffic patterns. Too bad Charlottesville didn't, as it would have a better downtown business district.

There are several things wrong with the Mall. One is that transportation realities mean that bulky or heavy items cannot be sold down there, nor is it realistic to shop for anything one might be in a hurry for. These factors mean restaurants and stores selling trinkets and curiosity items will be the dominant theme. Stores seem to have a short tenure, most likely due to difficulties with profitability. Another problem is and has been inadequate policing of the entire area which has made it a magnet for undesirable elements (relate to the poster who has been assaulted twice) This makes for unpleasant experiences or simply a feeling of unease which makes many people stay away. I'm a fairly intimidating male who carries a concealed weapon when walking at night, but I don't feel like having to exercise my attributes, so I avoid the Mall in favor of other places.
There should be 2 beat cops on foot walking back and forth in opposite directions on that Mall and uncivil conduct should be ruthlessly suppressed. That might help the less than hale and hearty feel safe there.
But in the end, the mall was created by subsidy and throughout its life has depended on subsidies, both direct and indirect. The Omni is one, and grants have been another. Soon the city will provide another in the form of the city owned and city run ice park. Maybe the city can provide parking vouchers as well, but who will pay for that? And that still leaves the problem of having your car broken into while you're having your nice dinner. When you discover that after your scary walk walk back to the parking garage, maybe you'll have dinner elsewhere next time. Charlottesville already has pedestrian malls in the form of Barracks Rd. shopping center or Fashion Square. Too bad all that brick money hadn't gone to a local paving company to restore the street.

no offense Steve, I do trust you and if we ever met up, I'd tell you what I know. Best Regards

I always only park on the north side with safety in mind (and I have never failed to find a spot, though I've had to drive 'round and 'round sometimes before one opened up). Perhaps paid parking revenues are declining for the same reason I am not going down there as much? For local businesses to thrive, in my opinion, they need to address some of the issues that are turning me away, but parking hasn't been one of them for me.

Gasbag, I didn't mean to imply that all crime anywhere is reported. I provided the link to show people that a lot of the crime around the city is reported and to show that there's a lot of crime all over the city.
Deeman, the Downtown Mall is already a ghost town during the week except for a few people eating in the outdoor cafes, usually for two hours.

Since the Mall has been defined as an entertainment center, it's busy only when there's entertainment or on weekends. I don't forsee it's becoming a major retail district.

Not all the problems are coming from juveniles. I have recently been aggressively solicited for money in the Feast parking lot by grown men. I understand that we need services for those out of a job, but, I hope the staff at the Haven, around the corner from Feast, will also teach them manners. And getting angry at citizens who do not give them money will be very detrimental to these businesses and the Mall as well. I am also concerned about the Single Occupancy Apt. complex planned near the Mall, and if these people will also give paying customers of the Mall a problem.

Could Downtown hire off duty officers during certain hours, if funds are available. Real shame to see our former sleepy town having problems like this. Downtown will probably be dead soon if something isn't done.

I had one of those $6 parking fees for eating dinner on the Mall. I can afford it, but, seriously, what a drag on downtown commerce. Two nights ago my dad was in the emergency room, while waiting I took my mother out to get some dinner, no parking was available at street level downtown, so we went to a restaurant away from downtown to avoid the hassle of the parking garage. Unless it is an emergency, and doubtful if it will happen, I am done with parking garages in Charlottesville. Downtown mall is basically off limits for many unless you want to subject yourselves to the hassle factor. $7.5 million for bricks on the mall and still a hassle to park? At $6 per car in the parking cage, the cost of bricks would have paid for parking for 1,250,000 diners/shoppers. You gotta love government! Wasting tax dollars are their first and foremost priority.

If anyone is truly fearful of the Mall, he would not be drinking wine down there.

More is reported than the general public is aware of. To see what's going on in the city and where, go here: http://charlottesville.va.crimeviewcommunity.com/
Follow the steps above the maps numbered 1,2,etc.

not just downtown, cops are asking restaurants up 29 to leave lights on because of a rash of break ins.

Cville Eye, all crime on the mall isn't reported. Last weekend when the little juvenile wannabe thug threatened me, I didn't call 911 and report it. I instead invited him to execute his threat. He mumbled something further and took off running when he saw me opening my car door.

And for the record, the cop shoppe was again receiving calls about the little juvenile wannabe thugs terrorizing the mall last night. Saturday night will probably bring more of the same.

And in effort to not annoy CC to the point of screaming "racist" again, these little juvenile wannabe thugs are both white and black. The larger groups (12 to 14), as reported to 911, do seem to be black though.

But, hey people, I don't care if they destroy the atmosphere on the mall. I have never liked the mall since the pavement was dug up and the first brick was laid. :)

@cityresident, The Haven is NOT around the corner from Feast at all. It's all the way over on Market Street across from Lee Park. What Is around the corner from Feast is On Our Own, a small building on 4th Street which used to be better run and oriented to mental health recovery for anyone than now when it is oriented to addicts and paroled criminals. The previous members of On Our Own have mostly given up on On Our Own, a few go to the Haven, the rest have just given up on any socialization and recovery oriented center at all in this town if they don't quality for Region Ten. It's really sad in my opinion that what was once a safe haven for all involved is now a very unsafe place for everyone, prospective members or clients included.

Can You say Belmont?

Too bad about On Our Own, and thanks for Haven info. I am concerned that with the new SRO there will be a concentration downtown of folks needing money, out of work, and wonder if this will discourage business in the future and revenue for the city. The City has a big heart, but do they have an equally big pocketbook to provide all the services these folks will need. I don't see the County stepping in to help-they are cutting services to this population.

More evidence of the need for a freeway to downtown. Plus, all the new small businesses that are moving into cheap rentals near eateries...those people have to get to work ON TIME!

Seeing first hand what happened in Detroit when behaviors by a few ending up costing everyone, I can only say that if these 'thugs' are not brought under control at both malls, soon, both will become ghost towns. All it is going to take is a single gunshot downtown at Friday's After 5, or on a warm Saturday night, and believe me, there will be more boarded up businesses than there are now. 2-3 extra cops walking around should do it.

Bob Stroh is a good man. CPC is lucky to have him as General Manager. But, I refuse to use any of his parking garages. It's the best place in town to have your car broken into by the little juvenile wannabe thugs and pilfered for iPods, cameras, loose change and other valuables. CPC has in the past used off duty cops to patrol at least one of the garages (Water Street).

One more thing- if you're trying to cut back on expenses- Food Lion offers a bottle of Tisdale for $3.99--I imagine your one glass of wine at Enoteca was between $6.00 and $12.00 dollars.

The problem is there's no free garage around to drive people to want to come Downtown. I can't count the numerous times I've avoided patronizing a Mall business on the weekends and gone elsewhere with parking.

Compare to say, the Reston Town Center, where the parking is free and that area is constantly busy. While that may not be a *direct* result of free parking, I'm sure it helps.

I think a much better use of the $7.5 million mall bricks would have to been to either buy one of these garages or surface lots, give free parking, and drive more people to the Mall.

c'est la vie.

Austro, actually I like Enoteca because I can order a 3oz glass of wine for under $4, and dinner with my friend was barely a tad over 2 hours. It's $6 to park, even if you're there 2hrs. and 1 min.

Nancy- did your salad and wine take 3 hours to consume? I'm almost certain the going rate is $2.00/hour to park in one of the garages.

CPC will argue, not publicly, that if you can't afford $2.00/hr to park, you probably can't afford to pay for a dinner downtown.

I guess the only option would be for CPC to accept validations from businesses on the mall, but I don't see that happening in the near future.

Do downton businesses validate?

The only places I know of are CVS, the transit center- at the end of the Mall, the post office and city hall --1/2 hr free parking.

And if you are trying to save money then maybe a little clock watching so you can get in just a little under 2 hours.

How about you just try to find a spot on the street, say at the end of water past the pavilion and hoof it down the mall or in the City parking lot. Usually those two places are open, especially with the nice weather hoof it a little.

Other places that validate parking: Discovery Museum. Regal cinemas. Alakazam. The library. Marco and Luca. Downtown Visitors Center. Blue Light Grill. OpenSpace. The Nook. Snooky's. The Melting Pot. Oasis Day Spa. Tastings. Salon Drukyna. Mole Hole. Hamilton's. Enoteca (for the parking garage, bummer, Nancy!). Chaps. Court Square (okay, not DM, but close). Downtown Grille.

At least, that's what Google tells me.

Some Americans have a pretty low "hassle" threshold, is all I have to say.

Thanks for all those tips on parking validation. It would be helpful to have a list easily accessible for all to see. Bet those spots will get more business and would do well to advertise --free parking.

I always get a spot on the street and I never park in the garage. I'm willing to pay $5 and $1 tip to park by the Artful Lodger for convenience and safety. We've been assaulted TWICE downtown in the past couple of years, once just a few months ago when we were walking back to the car by Lee Park (that was a particularly ugly situation that's turned me off to downtown somewhat).

Why would anybody park in the garage when you can park for free on Water Street and walk to the mall? It makes no sense. Stop being lazy people!

Oh yeah, and you have to love the person claiming that "they're trying to make do with less"......then they turn around and talk about parking in a paid parking garage and going out to eat at Enoteca on the Downtown Mall. bwaahahahaha! I don't think you're trying hard enough! ;D Seriously come on now. You can't expect people to feel sorry for you and your situation when you're going to pretentious Mall places like that.

boo, I wasn't asking for sympathy. I know, that we are very lucky to still have jobs and plenty to get by on. The point I was making is, since many of the restaurants and shops on the Mall do cater to those with extra money to spend, and now there is a bit less--wondering if those businesses will be negatively impacted by parking fees ? --and, no, at night, I and many others wouldn't park on side streets near Water. I haven't had any luck finding parking along Water Street.

In order for the City to provide services, they need the businesses on the Mall to succeed, particularly the restaurants, that pay a hefty meals tax to city coffers. I agree with Chad that free parking lots would be a smart investment for this area, especially once the county has Albemarle Place up and running, which will be competition for the Downtown Mall--hope our leaders are looking ahead.

booo!, it's not all about laziness. The further people have to walk to get where they are going, the better their odds are at getting mugged and robbed by the little juvenile wannabe thugs who seem to be taking over the mall recently. If you noticed above "wearenotsafe" has actually been assaulted twice in the last couple of years. Others that go unreported are the threats and intimidation by the little juvenile wannabe thugs.

Without the pedestrian Mall the downtown would be dead. Look around at small cities around the country. My favorite pass time is to sit outside on a warm evening eating a meal with friends. Looking around these last warm days I don't think I'm alone. But, I am worried that this could change, if patrons are harassed and have trouble parking affordably. I always imagined selling my house someday and moving onto the Mall or close by, but with the increase of unmannerly behavior- I have changed my mind.

I love the IDEA of the downtown mall too, but I am a husband and a father and I won't put my family at risk if I don't have to. The group that came after us a few months ago also vandalised a number of cars - for the hell of it, apparently. Of course, ours was a much more severe instance than mere quality of life issues like aggressive panhandling, loud profanity, and other inconsiderate behaviors (hateful stares included), but I agree it starts with enforcing good manners to discourage the pervasive atmosphere of permitted minor offenses (and that should begin in the home). Otherwise, tanks may have to roll, eventually.

"Without the pedestrian Mall the downtown would be dead." WRONG! Just take a look at the pictures along the back staircase at the Water Street entrance to CVS.
@"wearenotsafe" Are you the guy that annually complain that you and your family are accosted on the Mall and that you refuse to go downtown? Who's going to "enforce good manners?"

I'm the guy with the child who wakes up, frightened, at night - that's who I am.

When individuals report an assualt on the Mall, it is not to be believed unless real name is given, but what the heck, who believes 99% of what is posted here. I only hope, that we do not depend on anonymous blog posts for any type of reliable information--if we do , we are in real trouble and more trouble than assualts on the Mall.

Why is your son waking up frightened at night? Is he sleeping on the Mall?

@ontheroad, "Could Downtown hire off duty officers during certain hours, if funds are available." Downtown had to have the city government to give it $100k last year to help subsideize it advertisement. You must be suggesting that the city provide additional police patrols by paying overtime. Downtown certainly won't. It is used to too much welfare.

Unfortunately, Mayor Norris has, in effect, defined the homeless problem as solely the city's problem.
@Parkway Fan, " Plus, all the new small businesses that are moving into cheap rentals near eateries..." what downtown mall are you talking about?