Everybodys Records and Gaslight are safe for the moment

Jun 20, 2012 by

everybodysgaslightThis will come as something of a relief to just about everyone that’s been following the story. Everybodys Records and Gaslight are safe, at least for the time being. According to Citybeat, City Council’s Livable Communities Committee has voted to recommend the establishment of an Interim Development Control (IDC) in Pleasant Ridge. From the article:

[The IDC] will essentially act as a temporary order of protection on the Pleasant Ridge business district, according to Chamlee. City Council was to take the final vote on the IDC’s establishment Wednesday, June 20.

 

An IDC is a tool city council can use while a study is going on — in this case, the city’s study on form-based code — that helps to protect changes to a geographic area such as the Walgreens undertaking, explains Alex Peppers, Cincinnati city planner. Implementing an IDC in Pleasant Ridge would temporarily regulate the establishment of uses, construction of new buildings and any demolition plans, effectively requiring any of Walgreens’ requests to go before the city planning commission in a public hearing, rather than just requiring a simple building permits approval.

 

The establishment of an IDC in the Pleasant Ridge Community Business District would last 90 days, with the potential for a nine-month extension once that time is up. According to [Pleasant Ridge Development Corporation President Jason] Chamlee, an IDC would allow the Pleasant Ridge community and other advocates more time to mobilize and work with Anchor Properties representatives in hopes of finding a mutually beneficial solution for both parties — possibly a less controversial spot for relocation.

That’s great news, but what’s just as good (or perhaps even better), is that since the last time I posted about this , Bill DeJonckheere, the owner of the lot that Everybody’s occupies, has apparently received “several increasing offers” from Anchor (the development corporation that Walgreens is using) and has told Citybeat that he’s “just not interested at this point”.

Those two factors combined improve Everybody’s chances pretty drastically. City Council is apparently prepared to make Walgreens jump through some hoops, and the trouble of that combined with at least one holdout landowner may make it more trouble than it’s worth for Walgreens to (quite literally) move down the block. It’s a temporary victory, but it would appear that the sudden groundswell of support for the affected area caught the attention of everyone involved, and I think that probably bodes well for the cause.

On a personal note, this has been pretty inspiring to watch. Seeing a community rally around a cause like this one says quite a bit about that community, to say nothing of the speed with which they were able to do it. Support went from Zero to Effective in the span of a weekend; that doesn’t happen often. I hope that other neighborhoods in the Tri-state are able to see what a determined group of neighbors can do, and learn from it.

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City Council ignores their experts, backs residents

Jun 13, 2012 by

Sorry, I couldn't help itI came across this story on FOX 19 last night, and it caught my eye because it’s not every day that you see figures in local government ignore their own experts in the interest of a small group of concerned citizens. Council wound up supporting a motion that would see a four-way stop installed at the corner of LaFeuille and Westbrook, where 9 year-old Tyala Frazier was tragically struck and killed in March, despite a report from their own Department of Transportation and Engineering that recommended only radar-equipped speed-limit signs.

I have to admit that I’m of two minds about this. On one hand, I’m pretty thrilled to see council take the concerns of a small group of people that live on a single street seriously, and even more thrilled to see them take action that they certainly didn’t need to take from a purely political point of view. That kind of responsiveness is fairly rare, even at the local level of government.

On the other hand, if you read the report, I wonder if this action will wind up being as helpful as it was intended to be. The DOTE seems to think that installing a stop sign could be both illegal

Many people feel that multi-way stop signs should be used as traffic calming devices. However this practice is specifically prohibited in OMUTCD Section 2B.04 Right-of-Way at Intersections, paragraph 5, “YIELD or STOP signs should not be used for speed control.”

and a detriment to safety rather than a boon:

Reccomendation: Stop signs on Lafeuille at the side street intersections are not warranted and not reccomended. Stop signs are not effective as traffic calming countermeasures. Published studies (See Appendix D) report that drivers tend to speed up between the stops to “make up lost time” or ignore and “run” or roll through the stop signs where cross traffic seldom is observed. These behaviors create a greater hazard to pedestrians, who should be given the right-of-way, and to cross traffic.

I’ve driven up Lafeuille more than a few times, and I can confirm that it can be pretty hairy, but I’m pretty much the opposite of a traffic engineer, so I don’t have any answers to question of “What’s the best way to make this street safer?” At the very least, though, people that analyze traffic for a living don’t think that a stop sign is the way to go, so I wonder if this gesture this will actually wind up being a positive one.

I’m glad that these people received at least some of what they wanted, and I’m glad that Council listened to them, but I hope that the action that they took winds up helping to solve the problem rather than making it worse. I’m not entirely confident that it will.

Image Credit: AttributionShare Alike Some rights reserved by cjdc

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More on the Everybody’s Records Problem [updated 6/7]

Jun 5, 2012 by


Evb2

There’s been a minor flurry of activity regarding the possible sale of the lots that Everybody’s Records and the Gaslight Café sit on (If you’re not yet up to speed, you can start here).  The city still can’t affect the sale itself in any way that I’m aware of, but since the new Walgreens would almost certainly want to construct a drive-thru at the new location, and because that drive-thru would violate existing zoning regulations, a new Walgreens would have to apply for a zoning change, which would have to be approved by the city’s Planning Commission. It would appear that such approval may not be forthcoming. At the very least, the situation appears marginally better than it did five or so days ago.

There is one point that I should probably clarify. The question that I’ve been asked the most about this is “Why doesn’t Everybody’s just refuse to sell?”. The answer is that they lease the lot that they operate on; they don’t own it. The sale would be taking place between Walgreens and the landlord(s).

What’s new?

  • The newly coined Pleasant Ridge Preservation Society assembled almost 1200 signatures in a petition/request for a moratorium in just a little more than 24 hours, and delivered it to City Hall, along with a letter from the Pastor of the church that’s a block away. The society was apparently subsequently contacted by an assistant to Vice Mayor Qualls and asked to stop sending that petition. The message had apparently been received (although I suspect that this may also have to do with the fact that there isn’t a great deal council can do to stop the sale itself).
  • Chris Seelbach, Laure Quinlivan, P.G. Sittenfeld, and Vice Mayor Qualls have all issued individual responses to constituents that emailed them. Seelbach and Quinlivan both stated flat out that they were opposed to the plan, and Quinlivan went so far as to say that approval for the zoning change that would be required for a drive-thru to be built “will not be given”. Qualls was careful not to make any such assurances, and Sittenfeld’s response was, well, lukewarm but essentially positive none the less.

In all honesty, I sort of felt like this was a losing battle at the start; I just didn’t think that there was much that a City Council, a community council, and roughly 1200 neighbors could do to affect a private sale between two parties. Recent developments, however, have given me at least a little bit of hope that this will turn out the way that the vast majority of involved parties want it to. I still feel that Walgreens has the clout to hammer this through if they really want to spend the resources to do so, but hopefully they’re seeing all the negative publicity this plan is getting them, and how important those establishments are to the people that live in that neighborhood (not to mention the city at large), and hopefully that realization is giving them some pause. I still think that the best hope for a positive outcome is for Walgreens to simply decide that they don’t want to do it anymore, and while I’d hesitate to attach a specific probability to that happening, I think it’s safe to say that there’s a better chance of it ending that way than there was when this issue first came to light. Hopefully they’ll view Council’s current unwillingness to approve a zoning change as a hurdle that they’d prefer not to jump over.

I know, I know, there’s a lot of “hope” and “hopefully” in that last paragraph, but I think that’s where just about every effort like this one starts. Again, if you don’t want to see Everybody’s and their neighbors move or close, and you haven’t done so already, please email city council and Walgreens, and let them know how you feel.

Image Credit: AttributionNoncommercial Some rights reserved by Koocheekoo

Also, many thanks to Cincy Notebook for helping me to stay abreast of what’s happening, and for consolidating all of the Councilpersons’ responses into one convenient place.

UPDATE 6/7: The Enquirer is reporting that the owner of the lot the Everybody’s sits on has not received an offer from Walgreens up to this point, and that he would even be open to selling to Everybody’s.

The owner of the Everybody’s building, Bill DeJonckheere, said Thursday there’s no pending offer from Walgreens. What he’s trying to do, he said, is sign Everybody’s to a new, longer-term lease, or sell the building to the store owner. He’s getting older, he said, and would prefer to sell it.

 

“If there’s a price that we can’t refuse (from Walgreens), we’d have to consider it,” he said. “But there’s nothing like that right now. (Everybody’s) lease is expiring soon.”

 

And so far, the city has received no request to demolish, build or change the zoning there, said Charles Graves, planning director. Because Pleasant Ridge’s business district sits in an urban design district, Graves has the authority over any such request there.

 

No one at Anchor Properties in Covington is talking about the project, but cafe owner Gary Schlegel says that’s the company proposing to bring the drug store to the Montgomery Road spot where the two long-time businesses stand.

 

Messages left at the company, which has developed other Walgreens in the area, were not returned. Schlegel says his landlady told him the deal might just be too good to pass up.

The biggest and best bit of news here is that this rumor was apparently started while Walgreens was apparently still in the early planning phases. To me, the silence from Anchor indicates that there’s some truth to the story; there’s no reason that I can see that they wouldn’t have piped up and denied it if it were actually false. That said, this is clearly much further off in the future than supporters initially feared, and that works to the advantage of those who oppose it. The infrastructure to fight such a plan is already in place, (relatively) well organized, and motivated. We’ll keep an eye on this moving forward, but it appears, happily, that these establishments are in no immediate danger of closing or moving.

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Volunteers? A Call For Bloggers

Jun 5, 2012 by

bloggersIf you follow us at all, it will have been quite obvious that our post volume has dropped off dramatically in recent months (OK so we completely missed the month of May).  We’d like to bump that back up a little bit, so if you interested in writing for CincyVoices, drop me a line through the contact form here, or shoot me a message through Facebook, Google+, or Twitter. We’re interested in anything that relates to Cincy or the surrounding area, and we’re not opposed to delving into subjects that we haven’t touched much, if at all, in the past (sports comes to mind in particular). If you could send me link to or sample of something you’ve written that relates to Cincinnati in some way, that would be most helpful. If you’ve never written anything about Cincy, well, there’s no time like the present!

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(Not) Possible pricing for the Enquirer’s paywall?

Jun 4, 2012 by

CORRECTION/UPDATE: This will teach me about speculating. I received an email from Brain Butts, Director of Digtal Strategy and Development at Enquirer, who informed me that the price in question is actually the price for a package that reproduces the printed paper in electronic form here. I had no idea that such a product existed, but it has apparently been around for years. According to Mr. Butts, “(they) have yet to consider and set our full-access digital only subscription pricing and likely won’t announce specific details until late summer.” So, essentially, we still know nothing about the price. Sorry for the mix up, everyone!

 

For serious?This is by no means official, and I can’t find an official statement on price anywhere,  but if you take a gander here, you will see that it appears that the price is currently set to $14.13… a month. I’ll be honest; my first reaction was to swear that there was absolutely no chance that I would ever pay that much to read the Enquirer, and then to proceed to preach on Facebook about how “out of touch” the Enquirer and her parent company, Gannett, are.  Now that I’ve had a day or two to ponder it, I still think that it’s extremely steep, and I’m not thrilled about it, but I can’t promise you that I won’t pay it. I’m a news junkie, and while the four TV station websites and WVXU do an OK job of keeping up on the news for free, the Enquirer still blows them away on most topics, which is something I didn’t really realize until I pulled all the RSS feeds side-by-side and compared. The Enquirer hits a fair number of things that the others don’t get to until upwards of a day later, and many things don’t make the TV news sites at all.  Griff covered this pretty well on Cincinnati Blog a few months ago when the announcement of a paywall first came down the pipe, and he made some pretty good points. I don’t want to swipe his post (you should go read it), but the statement he made that’s most relevant to this is that

We as a public have long been coddled by having free news websites. It costs money to gather and write news articles. Sure, I wish the Enquirer did a better job of doing that, but that does not make the economics of reality go away.

That’s pretty much it in a nutshell. I will be very interested to see how well the model fares if they stick with this price point, though. People will pay for news to a point, but they’re 87 cents away from what the New York Times charges, and I don’t believe that anyone will be confusing those two papers anytime soon.

I’d like give a big hat-tip to whomever runs the Covington Kentucky Facebook page for pointing this out originally.

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