CPC Inc. declares 50-cent dividend

In a break with nearly 50 years of history and as yet another signal that its current owners are ready to cash in their chips, the rulers of Charlottesville Parking Center Inc. will soon pay the company's first cash dividend. Thanks to "excess cash," on January 15, each shareholder will get a dividend of 50 cents per share.

CPC is the little-understood company that began its life in 1949 1959 as a desperate bid to stave off the threat of newfangled shopping centers, namely Barracks Road. But over the years, the company, according to a December 17 letter to shareholders (the Hook owns a single share), "achieved its primary goal of providing adequate low-cost parking for downtown shoppers."

And so the company is for sale.

Already, the letter states, 19 prospective purchasers have obtained the company's "private placement memorandum," and the company has set April 1 as a deadline for receiving purchase offers. Among the assets are the contract to manage the City's Market Street Parking Deck, as well as partial ownership of the Water Street Parking Deck, all the land beneath that deck, and an adjacent one-acre parking lot valued around $7 million.

The surface parking lot, located just south of the Downtown Mall, was the subject of a City-sponsored design contest last year, an effort that cost the City over $150,000 even though the City owns a minority of the total footprint in question.

Given the number of shares outstanding CPC's dividend suggests that over $200,000 will be paid out on January 15. The largest shareholders, CPC chair Jim Berry and the estate of Hovey Dabney, unless they sold out recently, will each see a payout of over $46,000.

One shareholder who has been urging a sale or merger for a while seemed pleased with the news. "What a great way to start the new year," said Florida banker Spencer Connerat, in a New Year's Day email, which also noted that his alma mater, UVA, was winning at half-time in the Gator Bowl. That game didn't turn out the way he hoped.