Why this particular public space is important

Exciting News! On June 2nd City Council is requesting the public to comment upon City Market/Mixed-Use development plans. This is a big deal for an institution that represents an important space in the mind frame of most Charlottesville residents.

The City Market represents a once a week town square, where people from all over the community congregate and form one of the largest gatherings in Charlottesville, supporting local farmers, artisans, musicians and nonprofits. It’s where the dynamic of the city is almost surely best represented, hosting approximately 4,000  – 5,000 shoppers each week.

The Market isn’t exactly a moneymaker for the city nor is the metered parking lot where once a week vendors get to change the landscape of downtown to sell local goods. The City receives 6% sales tax from City Market vendors on average annual revenue of approximately 1.7 million dollars (2013 estimates), plus, whatever the metered parking brings. It cannot be providing substantial tax revenue, given the escalating value of the land. The space has great value for other intangible reasons, which would be lost forever if a Wegmans were allowed the development rights.

 I grew up in Los Angeles and have watched sprawl become uncontrollable in terms of traffic, pollution and quality of life. Charlottesville seems to have a responsible growth ethic, keeping an emphasis on local merchants, in contrast to the county of Albemarle that supports an older economic growth model of mini-malls, big box stores and fast-food. Let us make sure that this most important public space is best utilized for the benefit of the community and not just in terms of the financial gains it may accrue. Please join the discussion on Monday, June 2nd at 7PM in Charlottesville City Council Chambers.