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Manassas Train Station Parking Lot Owner Pushes City for Higher Rent, Drivers Told to Park Elsewhere

By Uriah Kiser January 22, 2014 1:00 pm

3 Comments

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Manassas is known for the railroad and its iconic train station still used today by both Virginia Railway Express and Amtrak trains.

The inside of the station is home to Historic Manassas Inc., which is charged with promoting business and events in Old Town Manassas.

But a decision to close a busy parking lot next to the train station will make it harder for city workers and visitors to park, many of whom come to stroll the city’s shops and eat at its restaurants.

Late last week, city officials warned drivers not to park at the lot at 9106 Prince William Street by distributing fliers on car windshields, as well as placing an electronic notice on their website.

The lot is privately owned, and the city has rented the property and its  spaces for $3,800 per month. The city does not charge drivers to park here, and the lot has also been used during the city’s many festivals and events.

Negotiations between the city and the lot’s owner, Lawrence Buchannan, of Manassas, broke down last month after Buchannan demanded higher rent costs. He said the lot is worth more than the city has agreed to pay. City officials don’t agree.

“The city, as far as I’m concerned, is acting shitty,” Buchannan said. “I want more money because it’s worth more money.”

Buchannan, a life-long Manassas residents and retired U.S. Postal Service worker, said he’s been renting the lot to the city since 1989 and since that time the tax rate in the city has risen, but the amount of rent that he’s been paid has not.

At least $5,000 a month in rent would make him feel better about renting the lot to the city, as Buchannan says that is what his property is worth. And, he thinks officials should charge drivers to park there to make up the difference.

“I don’t see why the city wants me to negotiate with them… the people themselves will pay it,” said Buchannan.

But there is a risk that visitors to the city won’t pay to park, and that could drive people away from the shops in Old Town.

“The issue was not whether the city would charge parkers to use this lot, but would the city continue to pay to lease the land for the parking lot,” said Prince.

A municipal parking garage with both pay parking spaces and spaces for those who have paid for a Virginia Railway Express parking permit sits next to the train station lot. Another lot just a few blocks down from the train station lot on Prince William Street is also reserved for train commuter. A third lot across from the train station lot, next to the Manassas Museum, is reserved only for city residents.

The land on which the train station lot sits is zoned commercial and has been assessed for $685,000, according to city records. The city has offered to buy the lot from Buchannan but “it isn’t for sale,” said spokeswoman Patty Prince.

The city, however, remains interested in purchasing the lot if negotiations continue. Buchannan said he would sell if the price was right.

The final rent check to Buchannan was a partial month’s rent at $2,178, issued last month.

Buchannan said he is still open to negotiating but, at least for now, will need to put up a sign telling people not to park there.

“Right now, I have to put up a sign to protect myself, because if somebody goes over there and gets hurt, or if somebody gets run over… I will be liable,” he said.

 

  • Baroko Oboma

    Lets just shut down the parking lot now. In fact lets just stop parking cars in the City of Manassas. Lets triple the tax’s on every one to pay for my new Health Care Law – Obomb Turd Care. I want to bomb the white people with higher tax for the purpose of shifting the money to the illegal immigrant food stamp program and so that the Federal Government can fund New Health Care facilities for the Gay community and supply more veterans for the Animal Rights Foundation of Mac Auliffe and special kick back for Eric Holder for his efforts on prosecuting Republicans.

  • Captain George S. Harris USN (Ret)

    Fortunately for the person who wrote it, we live in a country where people enjoy freedom of speech even if it is as offensive as the remark at 5:09 AM. This situation is another case of government being penny wise and pound foolish. If the rent has been the same all this time, the city has paid out over $1 million to Mr. Buchannan for a piece of property they could have purchased at one time for far less. So let Mr. Buchannan have his empty lot–no rent makes thin soup.

  • Concerned Citizen

    Not only have we (Manassas citizens)paid him over $1M in rent we also made all the improvements to the property and we have maintained it for almost 25 years. Our total investment is probably closer to over $2M. Plus, it is my understanding that part of his lease agreement includes a waiver of property tax payments. I have no idea how much money that equates to! Sounds like Mr. Buchanan has been more than fairly compensated for the City’s use of his property. Over the past few years I have noticed that the property is NOT utilized during the many events that Historic Manassas coordinates. When I inquired as to why, I was informed that Mr. Buchanan forbade any activity that would be ‘revenue producing’. Eventually, he refused to allow ANY use during events…unless the organization wanted to pay an additional fee! The worst part about this current situation is the message it sends to any visitors to our City. Not very welcoming to pull in to the Visitor’s Center and see ‘No Public Parking’! The lot is also integral to the sustainability of the downtown businesses. There has to be some reasonable solution and I hope Mr. Buchanan will reconsider his current position and allow parking in the lot again.