Tuesday, March 11, 2003

Is this the one?

In between blowing my nose 12,000 times on Monday, I glanced repeatedly at the South Block poll on our web site - lockportjournal.com - to gauge what public perception is of the proposed mall plan.

I attended the Nuvo group's announcement at City Hall on Friday and, quite frankly, I was impressed with the presentation, John Tuli's knowledge of the area, and his idealism to fixing up what has been broken for oh-so-many years.

Although I'm no longer covering the City of Lockport anymore - a privilege I passed on to Jennifer Nowicki upon her arrival at the good-old US&J - I still live in the city and still want to stay up on things that happen within its boundaries.

While I surely wasn't the only "mere taxpayer" at the meeting, I was surprised at the lack of John Q. Publics in the audience, given the importance of the announcement.

After all, the $5 million complex would include at least 28 shops and several office spaces - a definite progressive step in our downtown, what with the demise of Lerch & Daly, is in need of progress.

And, Tuli said his company is willing and "financially able" to begin development immediately - if it gets the green light from the city.

Well, heck, that all sounds great, right? Quick, go vote on our poll.

Or ... wait a minute.

The problem I have is with an answer to a question that I asked Mr. Tuli.

His company is currently based out of Niagara Falls.

As you may have heard, that city has a new casino and lady luck is shining on it right now.

Developers far and wide are trying to figure out how to make money there.

But the Nuvo group - based in the Cataract City - is eyeing the Lock City.

So why, John, is that?

His company, he tells me, isn't in the business of prospecting. He builds what he knows a community needs and will support.

That answer sounds completely plausible, even more so considering what Nuvo wants to put there: among other things, a grocer and a bank.

Great! Every downtown needs those things, right?

But didn't we just lose a downtown grocery store a couple years ago due to "lack of business" and a bank (right next to the South Block, I might add) for the same reason? Aren't the shells of those former businesses still available for someone to open a bank or a grocery store?

Yes they are.

Ask the mayor if people are clamoring to open banks and grocery stores downtown.

No, they're not.

Look, I want this to be the REAL DEAL just as much as the next guy - maybe more.

But I have too many questions and too much doubt to do any real celebrating yet.

In fact, the whole thing makes me ... ah-choo ... sick.

But what do you think? Let us know on our poll.

Stand up and be counted.

Meanwhile, I'm going to go lay down. I'll see you later.