Dave has a piece over in his blog about the Varsity Theater today.
The problem is that time has passed the Varsity by. There is no parking, the new style of movie theater seating gives better views. The Varsity wasn't made for small, multiple shows (imagine filling a theater every weekend for just one movie!). The students don't walk anymore, so no business from that. The business model that allowed the Varsity to be built and thrive, doesn't exist anymore. Even if you spend the $1M to fix it up, you still are left with an old cinder block building with no parking.
The owners of that building have the absolute right to do nothing with the building, if they want to. They are paying taxes and no one is at risk. If you want to buy it, feel free to make a written offer. My guess is that $250k in cash will take it, but you will only know by making a written offer.
Why would you want to have the city harass honest citizens? You don't like they way a property owner is using something they own? To bad! That is the way that property rights work here in the USA and our strong property rights are a cornerstone of our country's success. We have proof that laws work that way in our own "American Tap" building.
I know it is well meaning, but who cares? You can't have it both ways, respect people's property rights. Use strong zoning laws and code enforcement, but mostly let people enjoy the use of their own property as much as possible.
As to Dave's call to "beautify or demolish", I wonder if we will have a vote to see if after his mural is painted, if it is beautiful enough. If not, get the D9 out there and take the building down? A slippery slope if I ever heard of one.
We know already that Brad and the city aren't going to mount an assault on the ownership of the Varsity. Do you want to spend thousands of dollars of the city's money to prove what we already know? You can't take someone's building, just because you want to.
Of course, your comments are welcome. Go give Dave some heck over on his blog too.