Predictions: Balls of Crystal 2005: What does next year hold?

It's that time of year again, time to reflect on the past and peer into the future.

As 2003 came to a close, we gazed deep into our balls of crystal and came up with three predictions:


* that the glut of apartments and offices would lower rental rates in 2004;

* that Patricia Kluge's Fuel and Tiger Fuel's upscale Markets would go national; and

* that we'd be doing more walking around town and country, thanks to city and county planners embracing the urban model.


How did we do?

Well, it's hard to say if overall rental rates dropped in 2004, but Richard Spurzem, who owns 400 rental units in Charlottesville and Albemarle, says they sure haven't risen.

"I think the rate increase is substantially less, if not nonexistent," he says. For the best deals, Spurzem says individually owned rentals whose owners can't afford a vacancy may be your best bet in 2005.

"If you want to spend a lot of time to run around to mom and pops," says Spurzem, "you can probably get yourself a hell of a deal."

On our second prediction, it looks like we were also on the right track.

There's no news from Tiger Fuel, but Kluge's Fuel Co. manager Ken Wooten says his company is on track to go national. "It's definitely the carrot we're chasing," reports Wooten. We'll stay tuned in 2005...

And finally, judging by the tattered soles of our shoes (some of which are held together by duct tape), our last prediction about walking a lot was clearly right on.


Now, looking forward, here are our predictions for 2005:

*After assaulting at least eight women over as many years, the Charlottesville serial rapist will be brought to justice thanks to continued efforts by Charlottesville and Albemarle Police.

*As construction and road closures around downtown drag on and parking spaces disappear, cases of road rage near the Downtown Mall will increase.

*The city will go to new extremes to force the removal of razor wire from Shirley Presley's Bland Circle land.


As soon as these predictions disappeared from the swirling haze inside our crystal ball, we saw several "other" messages. Although they were faint and difficult to decipher, here's what we think they said...


*Global warming will make it prohibitively expensive to keep the Charlottesville Ice Park frozen. Instead, its owners will decide to convert their venue to an indoor wading pool.


*Dick Cheney's once "undisclosed location" becomes painfully obvious after excavation of the downtown amphitheater reveals empty barrels of crude oil and a few Twinkie wrappers in a cavelike dwelling below the former stage.


*Charlottesville police will trade bikes and cruisers for Segways, those wacky two-wheeled contraptions that helped hairdresser John Carden nab a thief in 2004.


*Robert Van Winkle and Dave Cupp will stage a glorious return to Charlottesville's airways to help give Channel 19 the edge it needs against NBC29.


*After Coran Capshaw's amphitheater project is delayed again, Fridays After Five heads west to Capshaw's ConAgra plant where it's redubbed "The Crozet Holler Hoedown."


*After constituents claim he looks too mainstream for reelection in Dem-friendly Charlottesville, City Councilor Rob Schilling declares he'll regrow his "soul patch" facial hair.


* Chiropractor-mayor David Brown will answer critics of City Council's liberal stances on national issues by declaring Charlottesville is for straights only (spines, that is)– and offering free adjustments.


*Shirley Presley will dine on venison after discovering Bambi strung up on her razor wire.