Open Letter Opposing Re-Bricking of Charlottesville’s Downtown Mall

(Note from Duck: The following is a letter written by Brandon Collins, circulated downtown to alert City Council to problems businesses face due to the exorbitant and poorly planned re-bricking of the Downtown Mall.)

Honorable members of Charlottesville City Council
and City Manager Gary O’Connell,

We concerned citizens, taxpayers, and working people of Charlottesville call on you to cancel or alter the planned re-bricking and renovation of the Downtown Mall. It is our belief that maintenance and repair, rather than complete replacement, of the mall bricks can be done with less impact on business and workers, at a lesser cost to taxpayers.

Furthermore, we call for the 7.5 million dollars made available for the re-bricking project to be diverted, along with the attentions of city council and city manager, to an effort to seriously address the cost of housing in our city.

The estimated 7.5 million dollar cost of replacing the bricks will put an undue burden on taxpayers at a time when city government anticipates a budget crunch – perhaps even a shortfall – for next year, is reckless, and hard to fathom.

We add that there is no guarantee of use of a local workforce in the contract with developer Barton Malow. This, too, necessitates cancellation of the contract.

City Council and the Downtown Business Association have made little attempt to consult, or notify downtown businesses concerning the unfair patio space and have paid scant attention to the protestations and concerns of Mall business owners and workers, as evidenced at the meeting held Nov. 14 to discuss the matter.

Not allowing business to use their patio space until construction is complete is a backwards attempt to create fairness. The overall effect of this policy is to keep large amounts of money from being spent anywhere downtown, for a long period of time.

If businesses cannot operate fully, shoppers and diners will go elsewhere, since no one wants to shop or dine in a construction zone. This will effect employers’ ability to hire and retain employees already struggling under the weight of a high cost of living in Charlottesville. It will hurt tourism, and stifle tax revenue.

The proposed policy of equalizing patio space for restaurants is another backwards attempt to create “fairness.” But this penalizes older restaurants that risked opening on the mall early on. Restaurants with smaller clientele have no need for more space, as those with larger clientele cannot afford smaller patio space.

Moving patio space from their original spots outside of restaurants is another mistake that will create stress, confusion, and a few accidents.

This massive renovation project will stifle business downtown for the winter, and into spring. If the project lasts longer, the effects will be staggering. These businesses and their employees are already suffering the effects of continuous construction downtown. Slow business will hurt employers and employees and will lead to unemployment, underemployment, and lost wages for downtown workers. Ultimately, less tax revenue can be collected in the event of a massive business slow down on the mall.

Unemployment and lower tips for restaurant workers are likely outcomes of the current proposal for re-bricking. This worsens our economy, exacerbates the housing problem, and hurts the working people of Charlottesville.

Respected Charlottesville developers, suggest that the damage on the mall could be addressed by repairing the bricks in a continuous effort of maintenance. This could be done at a much smaller cost, estimated around $200,000 a year, with much less impact on downtown business and employment.

We call on Charlottesville City Council to divert it’s attentions and funds from the 7.5 million dollar re-bricking disaster to addressing the problem of housing costs in Charlottesville. As we continuously hear that council is concerned with low income housing, why is it that 7.5 million dollars is going to be spent on an over-priced maintenance issue while little is accomplished on the issues of affordable housing and homelessness? It is our view that council could spend money in a constructive way on addressing this issue rather than spending money for a project devastating to working people in Charlottesville already struggling to pay ever increasing rents.

Charlottesville City Council’s actions on re-bricking, and similar policies that support abstract notions of how our city should look, and which elites we are trying to attract and satisfy, contribute to the ever growing problems of poverty, housing, joblessness, homelessness, crime and gun violence. A belief that our community leaders are more concerned with spending large sums of money on cosmetic changes to attract tourists, corporate business, and wealthy newcomers has a direct effect on the psyche of low income citizens. When council says it needs to do something about these issues, and fails to do anything, people lose hope and lose sense of community. This is amplified when the one thing our leaders are doing is spending unimaginable sums of money on a project that has little support from the community.

While we see the need for infrastructure repair, we call on Charlottesville City Council to halt the total re-bricking of the Downtown Mall in favor of gradual repair and maintenance of the mall bricks for a lesser cost, and devotion of the massive amounts of money required for re-bricking to a serious and meaningful attempt to address the housing crises. We call on the citizens of Charlottesville to attend Charlottesville City Council meetings on the Mondays of December 1st and 15th to voice their concerns on the proposed re-bricking of the Downtown Mall.

Sincerely,

Miller’s Downtown…Rapture…Gravity Lounge…Alakazam Toys & Gifts…

Oyster House Antiques…Twisted Branch Tea Bazaare…Brandon Collins…

Jennifer Tidwell…Stephen Barling…Jesse Breeden…Reagan Greenfield…

Morgan Moran…Angel Krasnegor…

More endorsements on the way!

If you would like to endorse, email
brandoncollins@comcast.net

To sign the petition- visit Miller’s, Rapture, Sal’s

Advertisements

17 Responses to “Open Letter Opposing Re-Bricking of Charlottesville’s Downtown Mall”

  1. more endorsements! Joia Sellam…Becky Robinson…Jerry Simmons
    Jenny Bass…Laura Covert…Louis Schultz…Daniel Overstreet…
    Alexandra Cheff…Dawne Garrett…Andrew Groner…Dawn Story

  2. I guess cville govermental type never have gone to Richmond’s cobble stoned street area Shockoe Slip. Cary St is cobbled for about three blocks and is a major trafic arty which has been maintained since they uncovered the 18th centure cobles in the 70’s. When an area needs repair they fix that area. They do not close off the street for half a year. Maybe Cville needs some corupt buracrats to actually get things done correctly instead of some high minded genuises that are lost in god knows what triffle. And my god, the carbon foot print of a total redo vs. repair! You f#@king idiot greenies government baffoons don’t know your asses from a hole in the ground or suedo science from common sense. I vote Brandon as our Glorious Leader to lead us in revolution. Long live the leader and the revolution!

  3. cripsyduck Says:

    This letter’s getting some play over at cvillain.com

    http://cvillain.com/2008/12/02/letter-from-disgruntled-downtown-mall-businesses/

  4. barndoor cowlegs Says:

    no leaders! yes revolution!

  5. barndoor cowlegs Says:

    More endorsements
    Migration: A Gallery…Laura and Rob Jones…Sara Bullard…Leo Daugherty…Stu Gilchrist

  6. we have a problem with our government public input process. just like the parkway and the water supply issue, the re-bricking train has already left the station by the time the average person learns about the details and points out the obvious: this is a really bad idea. then the bureaucrats say well we already had a hearing and its a done deal and where were you earlier. Now that may sound reasonable but the fact is they always end up defending big wastes of money. why is that? this process is broken and needs repair way more than the mall bricks. lets turn the CDL Dump brain-trust loose on this problem, because its endemic.

    And , damn, Dog, it doesn’t take much for you to slip over the line into some freaky commie/fascist glorious revolution cult of personality exuberance. lets keep our pants on and maintain our cynical distrust of all leaders, shall we? I get nervous….

  7. Passion and tongue in cheek humor are hard to combine with out seeming to or being over the top. And ya, I am proud to be a complete freak. Maybe I am listening to too much MotorHead.

  8. impossible.

  9. Thanks! Its good to know that long term exposure to Lemmy won’t cause irreparable damage.

  10. I’ve got it! Rather than spend millions on re-bricking, the City could set up kiosks at points of entry to the Downtown Mall. There, high-heeled chicks can, for a nominal fee, swap their Jimmy Choo’s for…bowling shoes! The City would make millions in revenue and women would feel stylish, safe and egalitarian. Tres magnifique!

  11. barndoor cowlegs Says:

    couple more endorsements-

    Emily Anderson…Slava Krushka…Eleanor Gould…Andrea Parker

  12. it is with deep regret that I must inform you all that I must boycott this blog until the duck makes me a mojito. I know, I know what you are all saying: why hurt innocents when my beef is with the duck? well the fact is i’m too desperate to see another way out. so collateral damage be damned: all you other posters will have to suffer without my posts until the duck caves! I assure you I am ashamed of my behavior and the your cries of sorrow will haunt my dreams, but I must take a stand! there is a deeper principle at work here, and when i figure it out I will inform you all – unless, of course, the duck continues on his irresponsible path, then I will be forced to share my insights with no one! don’t make me not do it cripsy!

  13. cripsyduck Says:

    Well, now that winter’s here and the mint has died… let’s just say it was good hearing from you and we look forward to more from you in the spring. (Unless a bloody mary will suffice.)

  14. how predictable! of course you would hide behind dead mint! how easy do I have to make it? buy me a beer? let me buy you a beer? bring me the head of alfredo garcia? tie your shoe? your response makes it very clear how little regard you have for the posters on your blog – you have been exposed! I will now torture you with more silence until you come to your senses. (unless the bloody mary is made with Beefamato and Bacardi. mmmmm, beef in my drink…)

  15. Anonymous Says:

    The times are awasting as well as the Council’s mind. Rebricking of the entire mall without consideration of global/local economic distress needs to be explained clearly by the powers that are making such decisions. Being a person who has visited and walked on the mall (in heels) after dinner and cocktails; the stupidity of interferring with employees and owners who are paying your taxes to be in this ‘historical cite’….hey give an old broad a break.

    Its my assumption that whoever you are in your seats of power may have taken a road/air trip to other scenes….Whadda you think? Rome,Venice…even closer ..Williamsburg…Alexandria.

    This may all be moot in your emperical wisdom…..I say nay..I say an uneven walkway is just something you walk on not something that is for the “commom good”.

    Replace a few bricks and try your very best to see there are much bigger problems to try to resolve.

  16. mojito’s, mom, and a face to go with my insanity. The tribe is becoming a conhesive family unit. SH the duck’s bloodies are every bit as wonderfull as the mojito. And they don’t lead to you being a most disturbing alarm clock for a six year old. I should have had the duck make contact friday and I would have watered you with tequila.

  17. more endorsements-
    William Mick…Andrea Parker…Walter Hoffman…Sarah Bordeau-Rigterink

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: