Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Vandalism in Georgetown

A lot of vandalism and other petty crime happens in Georgetown. Cars are prowled, buildings are tagged, windows are smashed. Unfortunately, things aren't much different on Beacon Hill (or Capitol Hill, or the U-District, or Wallingford...).

Unless I'm making a plea to a specific business owner to please clean up the mess that they've been given, I usually don't photograph or describe the exact location of specific problems, mostly because I don't want to give the vandals the publicity. We all know these problems are everywhere; we all know it sucks.

I think good business owners see cleanup of graffiti and broken windows as a cost of doing business in an urban area, and they file police reports to get it on record and deal with fixing things right away. And if they're also very, very, very lucky, they are able to see the perpetrators apprehended and punished.

The owners of 24 Karat Antiques in Georgetown had their windows smashed out early last Friday. I believe they are relative newcomers to Georgetown and hadn't suffered significant damage to their store before, and I feel very sorry for them that they had to start the lovely Memorial Day weekend on such a shitty note. But they're relatively fortunate in that there were witnesses to the crime, and the perpetrator was caught and taken to jail.

Thes 24 Karat owners recently bought the property that their store is located in, and they have been criticized for not announcing to the community what their plans are for the space (and its longstanding tenants, including Georgetown Pharmacy). As I mentioned a month ago (and the bona fide Georgetown blogger provided more details on), there's been talk that the 24 Karat owners might not be committed to ensuring that these longtime Georgetown businesses keep their spaces. I figured that the 24 Karat folks would eventually pipe up, but I haven't heard a word. (I must also disclose that I have not gone there to investigate. I'm a full-time worker, a Beacon Hill blogger, an avid gardener, a third-trimester mother-to-be, and a summertime layabout -- my amateur Georgetown journalist hat is not getting a whole lot of use these days.)

Anyway, today the 24 Karat folks shared their sad news from the weekend and said they wanted to start a discussion about what happened. In a long e-mail to the neighborhood mailing list, they suggested that they might have been singled out as victims of community animosity and explained that a thoroughgoing criminal investigation is underway.

I was hoping that their call for a community discussion was a prelude to an explanation about what their plans are for the building, but they didn't mention anything about it in the e-mail. So I asked them about it. And many other community members did too. They have yet to respond, but I hope they do. They sound like they want to feel like they're more part of the community, and I think a simple e-mail about their plans would go a long way toward helping that happen.


Anonymous said...

That really sucks! Destructive behavior is never ok.

I think the best approach to protecting their property would be for them to work on their relationship with the neighborhood. Happy neighbors take care of and watch out for each other. For them that means doing things like communicating their plans for the building and taking the time to learn what issues are hot - like development and displacement - and addressing them.

It would also be great if they could start treating locals the same as they do shoppers from more affluent neighborhoods. No one likes to be ignored or put down because they are perceived to be less solvent.

Anonymous said...

I don't understand why the new owners of the Miller Building have to explain anything to anyone, unless they want to.

Now, Sabey Corp. has done, I think, as good a job as possible involving the community in the on-going renovations and future plans for the historic Rainier Brewery buildings.

And, if they haven't already done so, I would encourage the 24 Karat Gold folks to attend the next Georgetown Council Meeting, introduce themselves, and address any questions.

Vandalism? That blows.

JvA said...

Nope. There's no law that says they need to share with the community their plans for the building.

But when they reached out to the community saying that they wanted to start a discussion about the situation, it seemed like they wanted to, well, start a discussion about the situation.

Anonymous said...

The only real difference between building owners that play hardball, and those that "reach out to the community" is one serves it up by force feeding us cod liver oil, and the other feeds it to us in a syrupy sweet pastry. But in both cases, it's still bullshit.

Anonymous said...

Unfortunately, Georgetown is going through what the rest of the city has for just took longer. I've been living/working here for 5 years and its seems noisy and profitable now while losing a bit of its edge.
The bars and restaurants are good for the most part and I am very happy they made it here. Support the businesses you wish--they cannot make it without your money. Tell the new owners of the overpriced store what you want to see happen and see if they listen. Most likely they will not, but if they don't get out in front of this issue much much faster then they have been it might only get worse.

JvA said...

Oh, come on. Not every building owner feeds its neighbors bullshit. Not every small-business operator can, or would necessarily want to, buy their own space; we need good building owners to help keep good businesses around.

Anonymous said...

anonymous 2. (here from 7:00. not the 6:12 posting)

The things that make a neighborhood pleasant walkable, livable and sustainable are those functional stores clustered together--JVA, you know this--like a shoestore, hardware, grocery (fresh goods) maybe a restaurant/bar or two, drugstore is great, key even some would say. It seems you guys really dig the kind of furniture and items found in that type of redux furniture/furnishing store, and most likely would not bemoan the type of shops currently sweeping over Old Ballard ave like wildfire. (Me too, I've been in there several times, but have yet to purchase something even after heavy negotiating with a non-consignment item over a month!) But my point is really that and most of these types of stores are way way overpriced. We already have them available in Ballard, Fremont, Greenwood to a lesser extent, why should they be permitted to consume all of the cities niche hoods? So we can drive less to get to them? At the cost of loss of character and feel? No one should be smashing any windows or damaging property...the owners could leave and put something worse and more useless than what is there already. After living in Seattle for 14 years and working and living down here for 5, it saddens me to see this type of change swinging through so fast--overall its good for Georgetown don't get me wrong--but the suspicious turning off of the systems at the Cold Storage building should be a warning to everyone involved in the neighborhood, the developers who can effect a lot of great positive change will do whatever is in their power--and that't a lot--to get their goals. You've done a great job connecting people and ideas, thanks for the efforts.

JvA said...

Thanks for your additional comments.

Yes, the antique store is catering to city/regional tourists, not to neighborhood residents.

The drugstore catered to Georgetown and other South End residents, and the new places (including additional restaurants, as welcome as they might be) are catering to visitors.

You're right -- I happen to be pretty fancy pants myself, and I visit Ballard and Fremont as a shopping tourist. It saddens me to see what's happened to Ballard, especially, but I'm also always happy to see some nice pain au chocolat, which never would have been available in the old Ballard.

Overall, I'd rather see businesses catering to residents than to tourists in Georgetown. Also, fewer Pabst ads would be nice.