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01 March 2009 @ 12:08 pm
From The Department Of Unintended Consequences  
An unintended consequence of architectural regulations, as reported by the Washington Post:

To many in Old Town Alexandria, the sex shop that opened recently on King Street is nothing short of scandalous, a historical desecration just blocks from the boyhood home of Robert E. Lee.

But to Michael Zarlenga, it's justice.

Zarlenga spent $350,000 on plans to expand his hunting and fishing store, the Trophy Room. He worked with city officials for almost two years and thought he had their support -- until the architectural review board told him he couldn't alter the historic property.

Furious and out of money, Zarlenga rented the space to its newest occupant, Le Tache....

"I believe it's an inappropriate business to be located in our old and historic district," Alexandria Mayor William D. Euille (D) said of Le Tache. "I get e-mails and calls every day from people who want us to do something to make the business leave."...

The city cannot act because the store is complying with the law. "There's nothing I can do to encourage its demise," the mayor said....

My favorite quote from the story: "Actually, I was hoping for a fast-food chain because I thought that would be more annoying to the city."

Current Mood: amusedamused
Janicejannyblue on March 1st, 2009 11:17 pm (UTC)
Address is 210 King St.

In case anyone wants to go and buy things there and support them.
osewalrusosewalrus on March 2nd, 2009 03:26 am (UTC)
When all else fails, revenge will have to do.
maugornmaugorn on March 2nd, 2009 02:39 pm (UTC)
These unintended consequences can have further unintended consequences.

One of the main missions of the architectural and zoning regulations and the regulators themselves in Old Town is to keep the historic aesthetic alive and to preserve the beauty and charm of Old Town.

As recently as a few years ago, the town *did* relax some of their strict standards, and the results were ugly demolitions, breaking or ignoring deals and contracts, and rebuilds with big box businesses coming in. Property values went up, small businesses were squeezed out, and then the crash came and the big box businesses were also hit.

The net gain is exemplified by a big ugly cavity in a tooth right in the heart of the 100 Block of King St. All that disruption, all the assurances from the builder, all the LIES from the builder that were tolerated because it would help "bolster" the economy, all came and went for nothin'. Can you blame them for digging in their toes a little bit now? I know the building in question, and it's a cool old building. I'm SURE there's more to the story than "poor building owner just wants to renovate and the big mean old City Hall won't let himmmmmmmmmmmm"

Also, the folks, especially the actual residents in Old Town have a LONG memory and a long term view of things. If the *only* reason that there's an *adult* store in Old Town is for revenge, you can bet that if the residents think it won't last, that it probably won't. If the store fails, and the guy can't afford to keep the building, you can bet that the regulatory swords that hung over his head before are going to be NOTHING compared to what they go after him for if the building is vacant.
He may be laughing now, but he won't laugh when he loses several million dollars having to sell the building short just to get it out of his portfolio before another hammer falls on his toes.

I'm not saying that I *don't* think the store is a welcome change, or worth supporting. I do.
It's *exactly* the kind of funky one of a kind thing that makes Old Town a place to brag about. But the *revenge* has to stop at the landlord's door. The stores in Old Town (especially the small businesses) need each other as good neighbors to survive.
The *adult* store is going to need to be a good neighbor and to show the others that it's worthwhile to be a good neighbor to them. And they'll need to look at the big picture and the long haul, because the residents and survivors in Old Town do, and that's why they're (still) there. If they can't *be* a good neighbor, they'll just be a funny footnote.

The landlord, if he's just being a jackass, won't survive either.
The Vodka Godallah_sulu on September 15th, 2009 02:32 pm (UTC)
I work on King Street. Why was I not informed of this?