Bad Charlottesville News II

Well, since we first wrote about losing Plan9, Higher Grounds, Satellite Ballroom and Just Curry for a worthless CVS, the C-Ville has picked up the story (here too) as well as the Hook. Good for them. I take back my sniping comments about them ignoring the Corner district.

A few things are clear from these articles. One is that Terry Vassalos is using weasel-talk. He says in the C-Ville article:

“They look at the space, yes,” says Vassalos. “I cannot go into the details. There are a lot of people involved, the people that are there, the new people, and I cannot say anything about the details of the contracts.”

Weasel words if I’ve ever seen them. If Just Curry is already moving out it’s clear he’s made them unwelcome in that space, with or without a worthless CVS moving in. Second, he says:

Vassalos says he understands that some people might be upset about Plan 9, Satellite, and Just Curry loosing their leases, and points out that he’s been a steward of small business on the Corner for years. “But as a business man…,” he says with a shrug and a smile. Indeed, considering that CVS would probably pay a hefty price for the space, and would likely renovate extensively, a deal with the chain might be too good to pass up.

“Besides, I don’t think the Corner should be all bars and restaurants,” Vassalos adds, echoing his past statements. “…more retail will be good for the Corner.”

This makes no sense. It should be perfectly possible for a store to move into the Plan 9 space and not displace the best music venue in town (where I saw TMBG last Sunday and it rocked). Why not divide the space up and lease them separately? The Plan9 space is completely separate from Satellite and Just Curry and there is more than enough room in Plan9 for a convenience store.

It’s clear that CVS or not, this isn’t just a business decision. Vassalos wants these businesses that Plan9 sublet to out of his building. And does CVS really qualify as “retail”? Sure, they sell crap, but it’s the same stuff that’s at the 3 convenience stores and student bookstore already on the Corner. All this will do is hurt local businesses – the three businesses already in the space, the three local convenience stores on the corner that will have to compete with a national chain, and the restaurants and bars that benefit from having a music venue to draw people other than students to the Corner.

I’m irritated that a small-minded landlord like Vassalos is willing to do so much damage to the culture of the Corner, and just shrug it off as a business decision. I call bullshit. As long as I live I won’t frequent what he moves in there, or his other businesses like Tip Top Diner or the College Inn. I’ll also encourage everyone I know to do the same. We don’t need to encourage landlords like Vassalos to hurt our community for an easy buck by frequenting his establishments.


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