As a life long resident of Alexandria, Virginia, I can say that I have NEVER been more ashamed of my City than I am this week.
With a double digit commercial vacancy rate, the City is in no position to be over regulating businesses. We residents have seen the destruction the City Council has imposed on Landmark Mall in Alexandria. The City has been looking to try and redesign that mall into a high density/mixed use area for years. For this reason, many of the big box stores and major retailers have left the mall.
Does the City of Alexandria know how to create a high density/mixed use neighborhood? Yes. One look at the neighborhood of Carlyle in Alexandria, will tell you how badly the City of Alexandria screwed that up. The City designed the area with the idea that many of the residents/visitors to the neighborhood would use Metro. Sadly, this has not happened. The Carlyle neighborhood has a HUGE parking problem which the City is still trying to figure out a solution for because not many people are taking Metro.
Now, the liberals in Alexandria are after the adult entertainment stores that have opened on King Street in Alexandria, eight (8) blocks away from each other. La Tache opened approximately one (1) year ago on lower King Street ans Lotus Blooms opened earlier this year at 1017 King St in Alexandria.
I am no fan of either store. However, as a Conservative, I am a fan of individual freedom and property rights. I, as a citizen, reserve the right to enter or not enter the store as I see fit. Le Tache replaced a firearms store that was there for years. A lot of people are against guns, where was the outrage against that? Across the street from Le Tache is a store that sells tobacco products. Many people are against smoking so where is the outrage against that store? Le Tache opened because the City of Alexandria lied to the buildings owner. So, to get back at the City, the owner leased out the space to Le Tache. See a pattern?
At its base Le Tache is a business. City officials have stressed the importance of small businesses, hailing them as the backbone of Alexandria’s economy. The shop went through the city’s vetting process for a new business and passed. Like it or not, the city determined that it is a legitimate, tax-paying small business.
Likewise, the owners of Lotus Blooms, went through the City's vetting process, applied for and received a business license. Now, the City is out to punish this business. The proposed regulation says that no two adult businesses can be within 1,000 feet of one another, or within the historic districts, where both are.
According to the proposed regulation, Le Tache would be grandfathered in because it will have been in the City for more than a year by the time the regulation takes effect. Lotus Blooms would be required to close after 18 months, which the amendment calls “a reasonable period within which to recoup its limited investment in the retail space.”
There was a previous store on King Street called 'Romance for the Senses' that sold many of the same products that these stores sell. No one became outraged over that store. What happened? The market played out and after several months the store closed.
With the business climate as bad as it is in Alexandria, it is much more prudent for City Council to let the market play out and see if the current economic climate in Alexandria will sustain these two stores rather than punish them.
See a report about this controversy on News Channel 8.