Thursday, April 26, 2007

Dave has gone "round the bend" on the Varsity

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.


nobody said...

Kerasotes operates an entertainment business in this town. They could easily be swayed by public opinion, especially if it leans towards impacting their business.

They would probably be friendly to political overtures that improve public relations and meet the bottom line of good business..

sthorne said...

I've no problem with them leaving the building empty if they wish. However, graffiti got scrawled on the front doors several months ago and I haven't seen anything to do clean it off or get Kerasotes to maintain it. Having it sit there fine; letting it slowly run down, not so much.

Anonymous said...

The building really is becoming an eyesore. I feel a little sadder every time I drive by it. I realize that Kerasotes has every right to let to building rot, I just wish they seemed less interested in letting that happen.

Oh and Peter, thanks for your continued writings! You are a nice counterpoint to Dave and I get a lot of local perspective from both.

Rob Lucas

gadfly said...

And there you have it ... they have a right to let the building sit empty. They also have, however, a responsibility to keep it up to city code and to ensure that it doesn't become a public hazzard. I'm hopeful the city doesn't let this turn into another situation where "property rights" means letting landowners avoid their responsibility.

Peter in Carbondale said...

I thought that Gadfly would say something like - if Sheila was mayor she would bring out her magic whumping stick and fix this problem?

Rob - The building looks about the same as it did before (minus the graffiti etched into the glass doors. It is just a big, ugly, monster of a cinder block building. I suspect it is your feelings about the building being empty that are driving your feelings.

I took a section of graffiti off my friend's wall a couple of months ago. It was only 20'X5' or so, but those clowns used some sort of super paint and it doesn't come off easily. I found that spraying it with chemicals and pressure washing didn't really work, it started to come up when I scrubbed hard enough to make my metal bristled brush bend. Hopefully, some friendly prisoner has made those guys their girl friend in the slammer by now.

sandra said...

Peter, this is an unconventional way to distribute a performance message, but since you offered theatre up for discussion I just wanted to let everyone know that the Kleinau Theatre at SIUC closes its season tonight at 8pm with "Cataclysm." I have not seen it, so I can't offer an informed review, but I know the performers are hardworking and let it all out on stage. The show's aesthetic is "postmodern" to characterize it somehow, so if you're not into that thing, you'll most likely hate it. But if you like strangeness, and uncertainty, this is your cup of tea.

I hope I've not overstepped any "blogger" boundaries (I'm new to this medium, let me know).

Cheers all!

Jon Bean said...

On Varsity theatre:

The best paper in my "Business of Vice" class was on massage parlors in Carbondale during the 1970s (they offered "locals" -- genital massages -- and openly defended them). The referendum on continuing "local" massages was 1900 YES, 2000 NO!

Side note: Varsity ran mostly porn movies in 1974 (the time that SI did a four-part expose of the massage parlors). I guess that makes it even more "historic?" You were a kid then (teenager?), do you remember this Peter?

Peter in Carbondale said...

I was only 12 in 1974 and wasn't interested in girls yet. I completely missed this part of Carbondale history.

I didn't think there was a working business model for the Varsity, but I'm sure you could make the numbers work with strippers and genital massage!