Acropoversy

Yesterday, the Buffalo News wrote about the controversy surrounding the Acropolis; a “he said, she said” recitation of the two sides’ accusations against each other. If that was all you read and knew about the situation, you’d have no idea who was telling the truth, and who was lying, or who is being unreasonable.

By contrast, the Dining Rumor has a well-reasoned and persuasive take on the situation surrounding the expansion and playing of music at Acropolis.

“The question here is not about Paul’s character, or whether or not he runs a good business — the issue at hand is how the intended changes will adversely affect the Elmwood Village residential community.” This is the complaint, put as succinctly as possible, and it is this complaint alone that needs addressing. So, how does Paul’s quality of character or quality of business relate to the question of how a “new” Acropolis will affect Elmwood Village living conditions? DIRECTLY. The negative response from “Elmwood Villagers” is emotional, irrational, and just plain fearful if they are going to, as many of them do, concede the points that Paul is a) a man of character, integrity, and upstanding citizenship and b) that he runs a quality business. My question is — how does updating, renovating, increasing, or altering Acropolis’s business imply that Paul will attend to the new aspects of this business with any less quality or integrity than he attends to it in its current form? Will he be less conscientious? Will he care for it less as it grows? If Paul’s a good guy, and he runs a good business, how will the expansion change the acceptable manner in which he’s run his business to this point? Unless this is just lip service, to ease the criticisms of Paul’s business into people’s ears.

The neighbors’ complaints seem to be that Acropolis’ changes may lead to drunken people doing drunken things – something that didn’t happen when it was a postage stamp-sized diner. But, as Dining Rumor points out,

The complaint of drunken rabble, carousing down Elmwood Avenue due to a DJ event hosted by Acropolis is patently ABSURD. In the walkable three blocks of Elmwood on either side of West Ferry there are over a dozen establishments with liquor and late night hours. To say that Acropolis featuring a DJ or serving liquor poses a singular threat to peace, quiet, and clean lawns in the Elmwood Village is ridiculous. The Blue Monk churns out a college crowd hopped up on high octane beer…hipsters, twentysomethings, and thrill seekers rove the streets from Bullfeathers to Thirsty Buffalo to Faherty’s and back again…even Cecelia’s has played host to the occasional late night, out of control frat party. Why is Acropolis being singled out? The names of the owners of those other establishments don’t come up in a discussion of the behavior of their piss-drunk patrons; no one is giving them quite so much hell.

Chris will be writing more about the Acropoversy soon, but make no mistake – it is a parable; the very embodiment of every single thing that’s wrong not just with Buffalo and her government, but frankly with a very small, but very loud, self-important, and entitled minority of people who have anointed themselves as the protectors of some Elmwood fantasyland where peace and quiet reign in one of the most bustling parts of the city.

This is a combination of entrenched political ineptitude and corruption, of myriad regulations that average people are unable reasonably to navigate, of a fundamental difficulty in getting business done in town, and of dealing with people who think they have a right to dictate how a business can and should conduct itself.  You shouldn’t have to hold community meetings to expand your existing business onto an existing second floor. You shouldn’t have to apply for and obtain license after permit after license – many of which the city doesn’t make it clear you need. More importantly, you shouldn’t have to retain the services of a high-priced fixer to navigate the bundles of city red tape. (That’s literally how it’s done in third world countries.) But the real offense comes from people who object to a grown-up place catering to a grown-up clientele, serving booze and playing music in a city environment.  

The notion that the city and alleged “neighbors” are punishing Acropolis before a single noise complaint has been lodged is outrageous. And furthermore, if it’s peace and quiet you’re after, you live in the wrong place.  

Is This An Odd or an End?

1. The Mayor held a campaign rally gave his “State of the City” address yesterday, and the two big takeaways from it are: 

a. The city will challenge local businesses to hire at least one city resident. 22,000 new jobs. 

b. The city will put out an RFP for development of the Webster Block – a blighted surface parking lot in front of the First Niagara Center and HSBC Atrium. That’s one ugly lot down, hundreds to go. This is an epic middle finger to ECHDC, which had included the Webster Block in its comprehensive plan for Canalside for several years. As usual, there was little communication between the city and ECHDC, and its chairman, Jordan Levy, learned about the Mayor’s decision from the press. 

c. The city will set up a $15 million “quality of life” fund. The natural question is, why did it take the Mayor seven years to come up with this? 

If those are the biggest, most visionary ideas that Byron Brown can conjure, then he really has established why we need someone new, with vision – with a plan – to be mayor of a shrinking city with myriad unaddressed issues. 

2. Carl Paladino submitted plans to turn the crumbling, oversized planter known as the Greystone Building into luxury apartments. This is clearly a positive move, and one that took far too long to come about. 

3. At some point, certain entitled loudmouths will quiet down and let the owner of Acropolis complete the expansion of his business and let him play music within its walls. People who want peace and quiet move to the suburbs. People who want a lively, vibrant community that is tolerant of busy businesses and sometimes conflicting lifestyles live in cities. Ironically, the people complaining hardest about noise and congestion – things that are indicative of a vibrant and successful city environment – purport to be city boosters. (Also, what constitutes a “neighbor” doesn’t include “people who live many blocks away”).  Also, did Janice Okun write this comment at the Buffalo News story linked-to above? 

4. In case you missed it, the identity of the Republican front-runner has changed yet again. While unemployed millionaire Mitt Romney has been the presumptive nominee for months, Republicans haven’t been thrilled with that prospect, and have at various times flirted Herman Cain, Newt Gingrich, and now – Rick Santorum.

http://polltracker.talkingpointsmemo.com/chart/us-pres-12-2?f=%7B%22t%22%3A%7B%22Internet%22%3A1%7D%2C%22p%22%3A%7B%7D%2C%22c%22%3A%7B%7D%2C%22w%22%3A%7B%7D%2C%22m%22%3Anull%7D&left=0&right=99999999999

The former Pennsylvania Senator is one of the most reactionary and medieval culture warriors out there – his views would enable him to run for Pope. He wants to ensure that Americans all adhere to the same Catholic ethos that he follows, and essentially criminalize anything else. He’s exactly what the bizarre tea party ordered, and here’s his newest ad:  

 5. A guy is going to get to risk his life, another Konst is running for office, and maybe it’s time the Grisantis got a reality show. 

6. Posting will be very light over the next week. Have a great winter break. 

Acropolis Under Siege

Yesterday, the Elmwood Village Association stabbed one of its own in the back.

The Elmwood Village Association is in favor of the proposal to expand the second floor of 708 Elmwood Avenue for restaurant purposes only. The Association does not favor the establishment of a bar on the second floor of the building. Additionally, the Elmwood Village Association is in favor of allowing a music license for the establishment on the following conditions: music must be kept at a sound level consistent with dining and quiet conversation and must be terminated at a reasonable hour; music is not allowed on any patio; and live music and DJs are not permitted to perform on the premises. Elmwood Village Association is in favor of a second floor patio at this location with the understanding that music will not be permitted and that the patio will close at a reasonable hour.

Didn’t the EVA insist on Bank of America building a faux second floor above it when it bought Pier One? Are we to understand that a faux 2nd floor for appearance’s sake is good, but an actual 2nd floor being used by a business in a poor city with a perpetually struggling economy is a horror? The Dining Roomer attended last night’s community meeting regarding the Acropolis expansion, and noted that it went less than smoothly.

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Seriously – who lives in a city to get peace and quiet? It’s the most outrageous argument I’ve ever heard, and it would be comical if it wasn’t adversely affecting a miniscule Greek restaurant that has been a good neighbor, and a good community citizen for many years.

UPDATE: Read what Newell Nussbaumer writes about the matter at Buffalo Rising today. I think he’s exactly correct.

Leave Acropolis Alone

Is Acropolis a good or bad citizen of Elmwood Avenue?

Are we knee-jerkedly predisposed in Buffalo to discourage and punish success?

Do you live within earshot of one of the city’s busiest commercial districts because you treasure peace and quiet?

Acropolis on Elmwood, fresh off a recent renovation and expansion, is looking to further expand to the second floor. Some people in the neighborhood are opposing this – some reasonably, some with libelous outrage.

The city has already approved the work that Acropolis is doing – adding space to the second floor for small banquets and parties; it’s not a huge building. Yet some residents nearby are engaging in blood feud tactics to protest what they think will become a “nightclub atmosphere” in the miniscule second floor.

2 On Your Side attempted to reach those opposing the expansion but we were unable to track down a name or a group.  There is a public meeting scheduled for Thursday night for both sides to voice their opinion to Buffalo Common Council member Michael LoCurto

Typical – ad hoc group makes stuff up, arbitrarily opposes private enterprise, refuses itself to be accountable to anyone.  One opponent spoke with WKBW / Buffalo Business First:

“The expansion of a full bar at that location would have severe negative impacts on the surrounding residential neighborhood,“ said Lynda Schnekloth. “Including excessive noise, increased traffic, competition for limited parking spaces, safety concerns, property values.”

Isn’t that a good thing for a city – increased traffic and less parking? Doesn’t that mean we’re doing something right? And how will a soundproofed tiny banquet area increase noise or “safety concerns” any more than Cecelia’s next door, or Blue Monk across the street, or any of the other nearby bars or restaurants? What proof is there that a thriving Elmwood business district will adversely affect property values? Any more than, say, break-ins to cars and homes, underperforming schools, theft of architectural features?  Let’s be real – if you want quiet and ample parking, you don’t live in the Elmwood Village. If you want a walkable, thriving, vibrant neighborhood that brings with it the headaches of living in a city environment, you do. It’s really that simple.

It’s like moving to the airport and complaining about the planes.

Buffalo Rising agrees:

While Buffalo Rising has seen far more people in favor of the expansion, what critics now seem to be misunderstanding is the music.  Acropolis is simply not a place for overly loud music.  It’s a place where a DJ can play eclectic trendy music to cater to the bar.  People can still have conversations over the music.   This type of relaxed bistro lounge atmosphere with DJ is popular with young professionals and has been for some time.  Right now, though, the City of Buffalo is holding his music license, so he is prohibited from playing music until the Common Council decides what it is going to do on January 24th.

Tsouflidis is reaching out to his critics, calling for an open community meeting, followed by a tour of the new upstairs space where the entire community can come out and learn more about the project and have a dialogue about any concerns that they may have.  It will be critical for supporters of the expansion to also attend this meeting or contact Delaware District Common Council Member Michael LoCurto’s office at mlocurto@city-buffalo.com to voice their support.  The meeting will be held on January19th at 6:00, in the Lafayette Ave. Presbyterian Church, downstairs in the loaves and fishes room.

The expansion of Pano’s several years ago was also riddled with controversy. Having a nice place to sit, have a drink with friends, and be able to hear your conversation is what adult city dwellers like to do. The protests against this are reminiscent of the neighborhood protests that ended a planned hotel at the corner of Elmwood and Forest, near Buff State. It’s a sorry state that businesses have to spend money and energy responding to – and often succumbing to – propaganda and lies, unless they’re well-connected and donate money to the right people, in which case they can, for instance, taunt politicians from illegal billboards on ironically crumbling, speculatively owned buildings.

Maybe Acropolis should be a future Cash Mob destination.