Charlottesville’s quest to find a permanent home for the City Market entered a new chapter Monday after the City Council agreed to ask private developers for proposals to develop the existing site.
“We have developed a request for proposals that will require [continuance of the] City Market, mixed-use development and parking as the three basic components of any response,” said Chris Engel, the city’s director of economic development.
The council also voted 4-1 to sell a portion of city-owned land near Meadow Creek to allow construction of a private home.
Developers have until March 1 to submit proposals for the City Market. Their plans must retain or expand the current 115 vendor spaces and the same 102 public parking spaces.
The decision to solicit proposals comes after a $100,000 study that suggested ways the city could invest in the current lot or move the market site one block south on Garrett Street. Cost estimates ranged between $1.7 million and $4.3 million, according to Engel.
“The reason why I suggested [in October that] we have an RFP is so we can see what interest there is in private development of this valuable piece of property, not only for the City Market but for other development,” Mayor Satyendra Huja said. “[Developers] know the market better than we do.”
The request only requires developers to address the city-owned property and not the adjacent lot owned and operated by the Charlottesville Parking Center, nor a 0.16-acre lot owned by 100 East South Partners.
“But it does suggest that agreements with neighboring property owners that could potentially enhance the response are encouraged,” Engel said.
Councilor Kathy Galvin said she wanted more emphasis on street design in the RFP.
“We do want high-quality streetscapes, and it has to be front and center,” Galvin said. “That is a major corridor with lots of pedestrian activity.”
Outgoing Councilor Dave Norris said a lack of resolution on the market is a “major unfinished piece of business.”
“I was really hopeful we would be further along by now,” Norris said. He urged the council to convert the space to a public plaza if the RFP does not yield results.
Kenwood Lane lot
In other news, the council agreed to sell land on Kenwood Lane that had been purchased by the parks and recreation department.
The parcel being sold is part of a larger piece of property purchased by the city for $165,000. Two-thirds of the land will become part of the new Meadow Creek Stream Valley Park, and the rest will be sold to Hugh Scott and Susannah Wood as a home site.
The city also will retain land for use as a 15-foot-wide bike and pedestrian access to the new park from Kenwood Lane.
When the council considered the sale earlier this month, Galvin had supported a proposal from Habitat for Humanity. On Monday, she said her support would be conditioned on construction of an accessory apartment built into the family’s new home.
“We own the land and we make conditions all the time on city-owned land,” Galvin said.
City attorney Craig Brown said the council could condition the sale on construction of an apartment unit, but could not compel the space be occupied by a separate tenant.
“My initial preference was to leave it as green space altogether, but if we are going to build on it, I like the notion of having a very visible and accessible entryway at this end of the park,” Norris said.