CPC demands $17.5 million (or more)

Rejecting at least two private bids, leaders of downtown's for-sale parking company have declared that they won't consider any offer below $17.5 million and have once again extended the deadline, thereby hinting that the City of Charlottesville (for whom it has already been twice extended) is the favored buyer. That's a blow to the other would-be deal-makers, neither of whom saw their proposals sent to a shareholder vote.

"I don't know why they keep extending the deadline," says would-be buyer and company shareholder Richard Spurzem. "The sales process doesn't seem to be handled very professionally."

Contacted by mobile phone, CPC chair Jim Berry said, "I have nothing to report, Hawes. Thank you very much for calling."

Originally, there was an April 1 deadline for purchase offers, which is the date Spurzem bid $9.3 million. More recently, fellow shareholder Spencer Connerat of Clearwater, Florida, bid $16.3 million through a company called Collective Resource Corp.

"I'm tired of this stork dance," says Connerat.

As previously reported, the City of Charlottesville is paying law firm Williams Mullen over $200,000 to tell it whether to buy CPC. Last year, the City bankrolled a $153,000 design contest for two downtown asphalt blocks including the CPC parking lot, but the Williams Mullen study, at $252,400, is the biggie.

A Freedom of Information Act request shows that billings by May 28 hit $209,550. That includes several five-figure payments to experts:
¢ââ??¢ $45,000 to Tourney Consulting Group LLC for engineering assessments,
¢ââ??¢ $22,000 to Property Valuation Advisors Inc. for appraisals,
¢ââ??¢ $53,340 to Lansing Melbourne Group for parking business valuations.

"We selected these firms to partner with us," Williams Mullen notes in a June 2007 document, "because of their reputations and their expertise. The breadth of the team's expertise covers any conceivable legal, business, and asset valuation issue."

The largest area of spending has come in the form of invoices from Williams Mullen attorney Bryan D. Wright. By the end of May, he'd spent nearly 221 hours on everything from giving status reports to City officials to searching for "intangible assets." Despite waiving some of his usual $350/hour fee in the final days of the report's compilation, his billings total over $60,000.

His firm's report, withheld from public view by the City Attorney's office, is expected to show the City how to create a new "parking authority" and pay for the massive purchase with 20-year, general obligation bonds.

A letter from a sale-assisting lawyer lays out the specifics to would-be bidders: that there's no time for due diligence other than a "brief period" for environmental study, and any bidder needs to put half a million dollars into escrow to be considered.

"Once again, the City has wasted hundreds of thousands of dollars," says former City Councilor Rob Schilling, who recalls several closed-door meeting for a Council "salivating" at the idea of buying the parking company's surface lot in order to craft a dream development.

"That should be a market function," says Schilling. "The City's proven time and time again," he says, in an apparent reference to the Omni hotel which cost taxpayers over $11 million, "that it shouldn't be in the real estate development business."

Calls to City Economic Development director Aubrey Watts, the City's point-person for the potential acquisition, have not been returned.

–updated 4:18pm, Monday, July 28


Can somebody point us to some background info on the origin of CPC? I seem to recall that they got their start as a result of some sweetheart financing/tax breaks/etc from the city. If so, it's interesting that they would profit so handsomely as a result of it.

Are any of these "experts" local or in Virginia? A quick google search indicates MI, MA, and FL. This stinks...

And also typical. It seems that the City has a tendency to consult with out-of-town firms. It's almost like they just don't think the talent exists in Charlottesville.

I hope Mr. Watts returns your call and explains why we need to spend over $200,000 to decide whether we need to buy a parking lot.
Does anyone know what Mr.Watts is paid as Economic Development Director? Isn't it his job to advise the city in these matters?

Why was that firm chosen? I wonder if they took bids for the work?

It was fast becoming clear that CPC's intended buyer is the City Big Bucks. I will be surprised if the City doesn't buy the property, it was discussed frequently when Maurice Cox was on council almost a decade ago. The City loves buying everything on credit, that way nobody pays any attention to Overrun O'Connell's management. Before this process is over, the City will spend many more thousands of dollars "studying" its development proposal because there are many pigs crowding this trough. Ever wonder why there are so many people from the development community that serve on the city's boards and commissions? Not only do they know what questions to ask, they know what questions NOT to ask.
Why are these consultants from out of town? Maybe they have local relatives in key places. Is that why the city is currently trying to avoid the traditional procurement practices for its current projects? Did anybody find out who is the owner of the proposed bricking company that's supposed to supply the bricks for the Mall? The city wants to sign that contract before its management team and contractors are hired. This type of obfuscation practices in Chicago would bring in the FBI. Hmmm...

This seems like an important story--alas, it is so mind-numbingly boring.

CPC was founded in 1959, as a Virginia corporation:

She hath not seen the change of fifty years;
Let another summer wither in its pride
Ere we may think her ripe to be a bride!

Alas, the People's Republic of Charlottesville wants her now!

Mr. Rodgers belted, "Let's move, before they raise the parking rate!" This deal is ceratinly not FREE, and the good people of Charlottesville keep their collective head in a cloud; but the man of a thousand voices is talking perfectly loud.

Yet, at a parking rate of $5/hour, one reminisces, "Why didn't we STOP them?"

It'd be a whole lot easier, if CPC left town¢Ã¢â??¬ŠI'd be a whole lot happier, if parking rates went down.
Nobody dodgin' questions, and shoutin' out¢Ã¢â??¬Š¢Ã¢â??¬We're the parking RULERS, with unlimited clout.¢Ã¢â??¬

I remember way back, when they worked for free¢Ã¢â??¬Šnow they go to the board room - someone else pours tea.
Watch their smiling faces, as the time goes by. I can't fill my Chevy, but they're flyin' high.

CPC, CPC, CPC can't be wrong. Won't you buy a little stock now, come and sing this song?
CPC, CPC, CPC CAN'T BE WRONG¢Ã¢â??¬Šwatch ¢Ã¢â??¬Ã?Å?em make a big move, to keep our city and its council and our downtown SO strong.

**Thanks & credit: Sony BMG Music, and, of course, the ¢Ã¢â??¬Ã?â??Spin Doctors¢Ã¢â??¬

I have some $2 bills. Where do I exchange them for CPC stock? Does that mean I get two shares for each bill??

This looks like a cash cow...

To milk, or to slaughter: that is the question.
Whether 'tis nobler in the Ville to suffer
The tax and spending of the Council elite,
Or to accrue the equity of the stock of commoners,

And by speaking against them? To die: to sue;
No more; and by a suit to say we end
The heart-ache and the thousand affronts
That interested parties are heir to, 'tis a consummation
Devoutly to be wish'd. To die, to sue;
To sue: perchance to profit: ay, there's the rub;
For in that suit of death what riches may come.