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West Street Market stays open for now, tenants to get more control

The City Council voted to keep West Street Market operating, and made a motion to allow tenants to form their own organization/entity and take more control of the market. The next step is for the tenants to form this organization, revisit some of the West Street Market rules, and come back to the Redevelopment Agency with a solid plan.

At the same time, the city council made a motion to apply for the building permit required to install exit signs and push bars on the double doors leading from the middle common area to rear common area, thus increasing the occupancy of the back room enough to allow larger events. The city council did not see a legal reason as to why a cabaret license is needed when the events are thrown on common areas owned by the agency (Se7en's lease only includes floor space a few feet out from their bar, not the whole back common area), who doesn't have an alcohol license, and alcohol is served by Se7en, thus comprising two different entities.

The Breakdown

Joe Tyler - speaking on behalf of the artists who use West Street Market's common areas - is not opposed to caberet license but wants to make sure there's an open mic venue where people can perform without having costs.

The National Alliance on Mentall Illness loves West Street Market and do not want to lose their venue down there. Many disabled folks love the markets on Sundays, particularly the open mic sessions.

Jim Bordacot - Representing Plaza Resort Club located on West Street, said 2 years ago, West Street was a pretty scary place. and thinks the city has done a wonderful thing on West Street. He went on to say "Please continue to support it financially. Continue to enable this facility to grow." The only issue he has is turning Se7en into a late night cabaret night club use.

Roberta Ross (owner of Ross Manor) - Agrees with Jim 100% - Doesn’t want late night cabaret use.

Dan Gustin was the first council memebr to speak when the item was brought back to the table for discussion. He said when he first stepped into Monday's RAAB meeting, he had true concerns about the viability of the market, but after listening to Mr. Martinez and othert tenants speak up, develop a plan, and witnessed the passion of both tenants and West Street Market fans at the meeting, Gustin now feels positive about where the market can go.  Gustin did say time consideration (hours of operation) should be very important for continuing West Street. Dan felt the RAAB meeting was well worth the 2.5 hours. He added that the tenants would "be the city's best advocate for bringing new businesses there."

Dick Scott, chair of the Redevelopment Agency Advisory Board, added his comments next. He said "It's not the city's business to run this place" and added that "Maybe the strings were too tight between the tenants and RDA staff." He also said that the market is "Closer to breaking even on the rent than I originally thought" hinting that the budget numbers presented at Monday's RAAB meeting were a bit high.

Dave Aiazzi - Feels like they are giving mixed signals to the tenants. "Their current lease states they have the ability to use the common area, and then we send out a memo telling them they can't use it." He also added that the memo said the market was to close at 10, yet it's in West Street Wine Bar's lease to stay open until 1:00. "We've given these people no solutions." He was for letting the tenants form their own organization, and added that the tenants should revisit the original West Street Market rules, and come up with their own business plan, and their own marketing rules. He said "I looked at the rules, and one of the West Street Market rules for marketing is that tenants can't use the phrase 'West Street Market' when marketing their business." If that's the case, then that's ABSOLUTELY RIDICULOUS. How can you build a brand for the market overall when you can't use the name of the market to promote it?

Jessica Sferrazza focused on the job creation aspect, and wondered why if one of the qualifications for Community Development Block Grants was eliminating blight, why the market didn't qualify, and it was explained there were two types of CDBG's, and When market was constructed, it was done under job category not blight category. It's not something you can go back and change after the fact. She was tired of of govt getting in the way of businesses, and cited West Street and an Island Avenue fiasco involving the city having to file legal action to prove its the owner of the Riverwalk property before Wild River Grille can put out additional outdoor seating as prime examples of this. She felt confident the additional jobs that need to be created to meet HUD requirements of CDBG funds can be accomplished, and Gustin agreed.

The summarize again, no one mentioned a word about the market closing, and moved to allow the tenants to form their own association and come back to the RDA, and ultimately the council with revised rules and a plan. The mood among the council members about the market was positive, and I came away from the meeting with the feeling all of them felt the market can work if they step out of the way a bit and let the tenants run it.


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Posted by: Roger H - 4/15/2010 8:37:50 AM
Thanks for the updates - I seldom comment but want you to know that you keep many people up to date on the happenings around town and it is much appreciated.


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