Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Nettlesome Buttmunches

Mind Your Own G-D Business abouth Five Points South project

5 Points Confidential returns with a vengeance (sorry, we were off for the last few months researching a novel about writer’s block), and also a question:

Who best should decide what is and isn’t good for the merchants and customers who populate our fair neighborhood?I see you all drawing in your breath to bloviate accordingly—but let me save you the trouble, because, as any decent interlocutor should, I already know the answer to my probing and urgent query:

t’s me, not you.

Well—maybe not “me” per se, but as a merchant, I’m the one who has the most to lose and/or gain from the goings-on in this urban village, not citizen-activists such as the ones making waves yet again about (insert weary, halfhearted drumroll) the proposed Five Points South project.

I’ve already taken up my publisher’s ink and paper on this subject before, but with the latest salvo of misguided input from parties who apparently stand not for progress but instead interference in matters about which they have no business meddling, there’s simply no alternative but to definitively state the case one more time:

As a business owner, I want the damn public parking that this project will bring to the lot just across the street from my business.

Is having a new 75-foot structure in the middle of 5 Points ideal? Perhaps not—but the developers have the right to build on the land they have purchased (and furthermore have been downright gracious about the FPA’s own meddling in their design). This proposed structure represents a sound alternative to any number of other options—such as, say, having a big box retailer sitting on a sea of asphalt on which no one may park but their customers.

Sure, there may be issues about how the city goes about doing this sort of business with developers. But from the perspective of my own business, I’m convinced that Loose Lucy’s (and all the other merchants) will benefit from the availability of safe and convenient parking in what is inarguably the heart of the village.

Make sense to you all so far? Well, good.

And now another question to which I already know the correct response: Who are the voices raised in febrile opposition to what will be an aesthetically pleasing addition to the neighborhood?

In terms of the rather modest opposition from actual merchants, I find that the same-old same-old naysayers who oppose virtually any idea the FPA Board of Directors puts forward are again on the warpath against a project that, paradoxically, will most assuredly benefit them and everyone else in the area (you know who you are, you bad boys). A recent business-by-business survey by FPA Executive Director Merritt McHaffie demonstrates that a clear majority of merchants—owners, not employees—want the building and the new economic engine its mixed-use profile will foster.

So who else is making waves? The more vociferous and persistent activists attempting to muck about with my living seem to be of questionable legitimacy: Only just as I sat down to write this column, a caller phoned my store asking all manner of questions about how my manager felt about the project. When I rang back to inquire just who was taking up my employee’s time with the third degree (it’s like, what, are you the heat, or something?), I was informed that the interrogator in this case was a “concerned private citizen.” Concerned in a financial sense, I asked? “No, no—just concerned.”

Oh, I see.

And as for the local neighborhood groups speaking out against the idea of 5 Points businesses making greater profits—look, I’m sympathetic to you folks who live “up the hill” as it were, but I’m distrustful of narrowly-framed input from those whose vested financial interest is, when you get down to brass tacks, anything but vested in this process.

Yes, taxpaying citizens have a right to have their voices heard (and lord knows there is quite a bit of smoke in terms of how this city’s finances are managed, if not outright fire), but, again, I’m on the front lines in this neighborhood trying to provide for my family—and what “private citizens” opine about what should and shouldn’t be built across from my storefront carries about as much weight with me as what Bush thinks the next President should do about redecorating the Lincoln Bedroom.

So, good people, by all means speak your minds and compose your letters, but consider this a not-so-gentle suggestion: We’d all be better served by you getting puffed-up and shrill about matters somewhat more meaningful: oil companies making billions in profit while you get squeezed at the pump, or about Wal-Mart putting family-owned businesses out to pasture so they can sell you cheap Chinese crap full of lead, or else perhaps our government’s newfound sanction and active practice of torturing human beings—anything, in other words, except in the microcosmic matter of my livelihood and the future of the neighborhood in which I make it.


James D. McCallister reminds everyone that, in addition to co-owning Loose Lucy's, he is the author of the still-available novel

King's Highway

(hint hint)


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