City Council On Raising Vendors Rent

By: Elizabeth Donatelli
By: Elizabeth Donatelli

October 17, 2005

Vendors and restaurant owners on the downtown mall may be seeing some changes.

The plan would triple they amount they would have to pay to keep their location in the center of the mall and some just can't afford it.

"City Hall said that next year it's going to be--rent [will be higher]. We can't pay that much because we have no business right now," said vendor Phurbu Tserng.

Tserng like so many others is from Tibet. None of whom spoke at the City Council meeting, but of those who did many agree that business is anything but booming.

"One of the top vendors on the mall was out there for 18 hours and sold zero dollars worth of merchandise," said Robert Rowley T-shirt vendor.

Now people arrive early in the morning to stake out a spot, but this plan would guarantee a spot in a designated area...for a fee.

"It would be a fee based on location that would range anywhere from $600 a year to $1200 a year," said Jim Tolbert of Charlottesville Neighborhood Development Services.

The current fee for space in the center of the mall is four hundred dollars--but that could triple.

"I am really concerned about the fact that we are seeing such a steep price increase in such a short period of time," said City Council Member Kendra Hamilton.

The other issue is with sidewalk cafe's. The proposal would make all outdoor seating only 800 sq feet--however, several older restaurants have more and don't want to see it taken away.

"Please consider giving the original four that started 20-something years ago and grandfather our cafes," said Terry Shotwell, owner of the Nook Restaurant.

The four restaurants she refers to are: The Nook, Millers, the Hardware Store, and Sal's. These restaurants struggled in the beginning when the mall was first built and are asking to keep the size of their outdoor patios. Another amendment would allow outdoor cafes to stay open during the winter.

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