From the American Banjo Museum in Bricktown:
Bela Fleck, the genre busting banjo player who, to many, has redefined the instrument to a worldwide audience, will be visiting the American Banjo Museum during his upcoming concert stop in Oklahoma City.
A New York City native with musical roots in the traditional Bluegrass music associated with banjo, Fleck’s departures into blues, jazz, classical and world music have netted the artist over 30 Grammy nominations and 15 wins since 1998. While memorable stops with the New Grass Revival and his own Flecktones provided hints to his musicianship and direction, Bela Fleck remains a unique artist who continues to defy musical classification.
During his April 10th concert at Rose State College, Fleck will be reunited with the original line-up of his Flecktones group which was formed in 1989. In addition to the fusion of blues and jazz which brought the group to national prominence in the 1990s and can be heard on their new CD, Rocket Science, the current Flecktones repertoire also includes African inspired melodies and rhythms resulting from Fleck’s acclaimed Throw Down Your Heart film and CD project.
Prior to the concert, Fleck will be visiting the American Banjo Museum in the Bricktown district of downtown Oklahoma City. Since opening in 2009, the American Banjo Museum – with its world class collection of over 300 ornate vintage instruments – has developed into a must see Oklahoma City attraction which celebrates the vibrant history and heritage of America’s adopted native musical instrument.
In addition to touring the museum (where he is recognized as one of six Banjo Heroes who have defined the banjo to their respective generations), Bela Fleck will participate in a Q&A session with the media as well museum visitors. During this special event the American Banjo Museum will be closed to the general public but will offer complimentary admission to a limited number of people who are holding tickets for Fleck’s April 10th concert at Rose State College.
Tickets for the Bela Fleck and the Flecktones concert on April 10th at Rose State College may be purchased by calling 405-297-2264 or visiting www.myticketoffice.com
While no admission charge will be required for museum entrance during the Bela Fleck Q&A session, tickets will be required and seating is not guaranteed. Q&A session tickets will be distributed beginning April 3rd at the museum. Q&A session ticket requests must be made in person at the American Banjo Museum (9 E. Sheridan Avenue, OKC). Each Q&A session ticket request must be accompanied by a ticket to the April 10th Bela Fleck and the Flecktones concert at Rose State College (no additional guest tickets will be provided). Telephone, text, mail or email requests for Q&A session tickets cannot be honored.
Some background first: Daniel Maxedon and friends Hector Camacho and Steven Still were out for a guys’ night Thanksgiving weekend when they ended up at Rok Bar just before closing time. As the crowd emptied into the street about 2 a.m., a fight broke out. Afterward, Still and Camacho were hurt, and Maxedon wasn’t moving. He lay on the sidewalk, his face swollen, bleeding from the mouth. He never woke up.
Maxedon, an Air Force veteran who lived in Midwest City, served a 2008 tour of duty in the United Arab Emirates in support of the Afghanistan war.
A part of Maxedon’s skull had to be removed because of swelling of his brain. A shunt was inserted to drain fluid from his head. His cheek bones and skull were fractured. His family took him to a trauma center in Colorado Springs, where he died March 6.
Over the past few months we’ve seen several new faces pop up in the newsroom. One of them, Juliana Keeping, is a newcomer to Oklahoma City. So when Juliana contacted me about doing a story about violence at Bricktown bars and clubs, I was a bit concerned. We’ve seen flare-ups in Bricktown violence before.
All too often I’ve seen coverage by other news organizations that involved a quick hit and run approach to this issue – stories that gave little context, and veered to far one way or another. This last year or two was especially concerning, with the son of a police officer convicted of fatally shooting another young man after an altercation at the Bricktown Coca-Cola Events Center and then the beating death of a man outside RokBar along the Bricktown Canal. The Bricktown Association, which took a hard line in speaking out against such violence a few years ago, has been notably silent this time around. So questioning was definitely needed. But would it be done in the proper context?
It’s not that I thought Juliana would do a bad job. She’s done some good stories in the short time since she started at the paper. I just didn’t know what to think. The resulting coverage, however, was among the best I’ve seen on this topic, and I’ve covered downtown and Bricktown for a long time (since the mid-1990s).
I asked Juliana to do a guest blog, providing a behind the scenes glimpse at how she approached this story and the issues she encountered. You can follow Juliana on Twitter at @julianakeeping.
I spoke with friends and family of Daniel Maxedon for a story earlier this month on his death. The 25-year-old Air Force vet w died March 6 after a severe beating along the Bricktown Canal in front of Rok Bar just over three months earlier. It seemed there was more to his story. Maxedon was a regular guy who liked to stay home with his girlfriend. He wasn’t the type to make beef with fellow club goers. He wasn’t the type to go out at all.
My editor and I agreed it would be a good idea to pull records for all assaults in the Bricktown neighborhood for a period of about six months before his Nov. 27 beating through early March. We didn’t know at that time what the story might be, or what the records would reveal. I tried to let a few questions be my guide: is Bricktown safe? Is there something unusual about this area? Do fights occur here more frequently than in other areas? I didn’t have any answers. I also wanted to be fair to one of the city’s crown jewels of rebirth, so I pulled records on other entertainment districts, including one where off-duty cop Chad Peery was beaten. And so, there I was. Buried in police call logs and assault records, with a lot of questions and not a lot of answers, and a deadline approaching fast.
The number of assaults in Bricktown –18 – did not stand out. It was the level of violence in three beatings outside of Rok Bar that I found somewhat stunning. The beating that would eventually claim Maxedon’s life happened Thanksgiving weekend. It left him totally unresponsive, laying on the sidewalk in his own blood at closing time. The assailants are at large and police have no descriptions other than the men were thought to be Hispanic. A similar scene had played out a few months before, in August. That fight that began inside the club and moved outside, according to police records. In January, another big fight that began inside, records stated. Another person knocked out cold.
Besides one other fight in a Bricktown parking lot near Zio’s Italian Kitchen, in three entertainment areas – Classen Circle, West Memorial Road in the northwest and Bricktown — reports did not indicate anyone was knocked out during a bar brawl except people who fought outside of Rok Bar. People sucker punched each other, fought over women, fought over not wanting to end their grand night out at the bar. By and large, they fought because they were sloppy stone cold drunk, but they all walked away, and the only hell they had to pay were some bruises and scrapes and a bad hangover the next day. Maxedon lost his life.
I started asking questions about what I saw in the police reports. Police do not consider that bar a problem area and say Bricktown is safe with a large police presence for such a small area. The neighborhood association takes strides to keep it that way, too. A former manager of Rok Bar pointed out the fight that killed Maxedon did not occur on the premises, it occurred on the street, and no one knows where the assailants came from. A lawyer for In Cahoots Saloon, LLC, the owners of Rok Bar, echoed the former manager’s message and added that the club bans violent individuals.
There was a lone dissident voice.
Dave Johnson was the head of security for four years at Rok Bar. He said he worked for the same group of owners for several years before that. His version of the club was one that packed partiers in at over capacity regularly. Security staff’s recommendations to ban violent regulars? Those were often ignored, if the patrons were good customers — maybe the type to drop thousands in a night on Champagne — or friends of the managers or owners, he said. When he was told to slash his hours and given a budget that meant he’d have to halve his staff, he walked away from the job. Maxedon’s death has been on his mind frequently since he heard the news, said Johnson, an engineer who worked as a bouncer to pay for a PhD.
After pouring over records, giving every side its say and turning a pile of records and interviews in two stories, my editor and I spent a few days whittling my findings down to:
Oklahoma City police characterize beating as tragic anomaly
Bar fights not limited to Oklahoma City’s Bricktown
Nothing very controversial here from what I can see. The extension of the canal segment from the Oklahoma River would allow it to go under the new I-40 bridge and stop just south of the Bricktown Canal. It appears that the project also adds a pedestrian bridge over the river segment, and creates a series of water features, plazas and landscaping at the northern tip of the river segment to provide a better linkage and view for visitors. This items is up at Board of Adjustment Thursday for a variance on lighting heights.
Imagine a true draw for locals and tourists: start up a “Dad’s Slot Cars” shop just like the one in Chicago, only better. Because in an ideal world, this operation would merge with a new restaurant that recently opened up in Edmond, “The Fair.” Open this establishment along Automobile Alley, decorate the walls with photos of the area’s proud automotive history, and of course make sure you have the right entrepreneur/operator, and you may have a hit on your hands (this same mix, minus the Automobile Alley history, could easily be a hit as well in Bricktown).
Don’t say I never give you anything. Merry Christmas.
Over at www.downtownontherange.blogspot.com, Nick Roberts is continuing to put his own stamp on the discussion of downtown Oklahoma City’s ongoing transformation. Nick, who is pursuing a planning degree in college, is able to take that discussion a bit further than I can due to our different roles in the blogging world. I try to offer news and observation (and sometimes very uncomfortable questions posed to those I cover), while Nick goes straight to commentary. He’s good at what he does. But confusion sometimes emerges. Last summer developer Richard Tanenbaum put up a slide of quotes praising his track record and attributed it to OKC Central – when it actually was written by Nick over at Downtown on the Range.
Nick and I are often thinking about the same topics. This time we’re both thinking about Avis Scaramucci, owner of Nonna’s and The Painted Door in Bricktown, and who is going on her fourth year as chair of the Bricktown Association (she also serves of chair of the Bricktown Urban Design Committee). A few weeks ago, I took the following photo:
Yep, that’s more windows getting covered with plywood over at the Rock Island Plow Building. Keep in mind it’s a structure that is on the National Register of Historic Places. Before I could post anything on OKC Central, Nick posted his own photo with the following quote:
Does a single successful restaurant make someone the “Queen of Bricktown?” So far Avis has done nothing to prove that she wasn’t one and done in terms of Bricktown development, and how did this get to be the person chairing the Bricktown Suburban Design Committee?
So I guess Nick would be none too thrilled to see more plywood going up on windows at the 100-year-old Rock Island Plow building, which Avis owns. It’s the ONLY boarded up structure left in Bricktown, and it’s along Reno Avenue where thousands of visitors travel daily, both by foot and by vehicle. It’s a prime corridor for tourists and those attending NBA games at the nearby Chesapeake Energy Arena.
County records show Avis and her husband Phil bought the building for $1,450,000 in 2003. I’m also aware they spent a significant amount of money doing emergency structural repairs several years ago that, if not done, we likely would have lost this building all together.
I’ve been hearing complaints similar to those voiced by Nick, and I asked Avis why the wait – why not move forward with a development or simply sell the building to someone who will make something happen. I know they’ve had willing buyers – parties with a track record of successful development. So far, Avis’ response is simply “now is not the time.”
This won’t make Nick any happier. And I fully anticipate he’ll have more to say on this matter.
I think most of us can agree this NBA stand-off with the players needs to end yesterday or rather, many yesterdays ago. Gotta love Kevin Durant, however, for continuing to show the love to OKC. His latest national Nike commercial is one of the best portrayals I’ve seen yet of the city, especially in such a short clip. I’ve thought, for the longest time, we are a big city with the soul of a small town. We’re not hicks, we’re not backwards or naive “Okies” as portrayed by some, nor are we the traditional definition of a “major league city” as some here aspire to as well. Yes, the commercial is probably all staged. But consider this: in Oklahoma City, Kevin Durant really could drive up to a basketball court at NW 23 and Classen or at gathering of seniors and be warmly greeted, treated as a new friend, without a mob scene ensuing. Yeah, that weather-worn wood frame church is in Oklahoma City, as is the Love’s gas station and the lit up skyscraper hovering as Durant continues his travels.
Thanks KD. Hope to see you back on the court real soon.
As the battle over a plan by Chris Johnson to build surface parking along the Bricktown Canal continues, I can’t help but wonder: is he serious about wanting to build these lots along with a couple of proposed retail buildings? The reason I ask is because in some ways, this all feels very familiar… and there’s a reason why.
Consider this story I wrote in 2003:
Oklahoma City Council members are being asked today to approve a developer’s request to build a $5.5 million, 70-room boutique hotel that would cross the Bricktown Canal.
The plan is opposed by City Manager Jim Couch, who said the request for a revocable permit for the span could turn the waterway into a tunnel with limited natural light and no landscaping.
The proposal by the property’s owner, Jim Brewer, and developer Chris Johnson, calls for a three-story hotel to be built at 101 S Mickey Mantle Drive, with a 50-foot-wide patio and pool or building extension being built over the canal.
The property is immediately west of the SBC Bricktown Ballpark.
“It’s a heck of a project,” Couch said. “But the canal is something special, and we don’t want too much of it covered up.”
Couch said the stretch of canal in question already has two bridges. Between those bridges another property owner already has rights to build over the canal, an arrangement that dates to the canal’s early planning.
The land where the hotel is proposed includes a five-foot wide strip of property on the west side of the canal, in addition to the main building site on the east side of the waterway.
Sketches presented to the council today are preliminary, and Johnson said he is in early talks with potential investors. Plans call for limited parking on the street level, and a hotel lobby and T-shirt shop on the canal level.
Johnson appreciates Couch’s concerns, but said he’s committed to quality. The project also would need approval from the Bricktown Urban Design Commission.
“It would be in very good taste, lighted up, and would enhance the canal,” Johnson said.
Confused? Consider that the project looked like this:
Yes, the project consisted of a bridge to no where. They got their approval, but never went through with the project. There were some observers who never believed Brewer and Johnson were serious about the project (and indeed, Brewer never even sold the property to Johnson). Notice where the bridge comes to an abrupt end. That’s where Harry McMullen, owner of Alliance Steel, briefly contemplated building a 10-story hotel. Of course he had a problem in pursuing his plan; Brewer had quietly managed a deal with city engineers to leave him with a thin stretch of land that would separate the waterway from the east side of McMullen’s property.
McMullen, as one might imagine, was none too happy with the effort by Brewer and Johnson to win approval for their air-rights and bridge:
Developers of a proposed $5.5 million hotel pitched a successful compromise Tuesday and won support of Oklahoma City Manager Jim Couch to build a patio or building extension over the Bricktown Canal.
However, a new wave of protests by neighboring property owners prompted city council members to delay voting on the request by Jim Brewer and Chris Johnson.
Couch initially opposed the request, saying he feared the overhang, combined with two existing bridges and potential for a similar project by another property owner, would create a tunnel effect along a 300-foot stretch of the waterway.
Brewer and Johnson, responding to Couch’s concerns, offered to narrow the overhang’s width from 50 to 40 feet and increase the height from 10 to 20 feet.
“Based on their revised request, I think it’s a better fit,” Couch said.
Several council members indicated they were about to approve the request when protests were heard from neighboring property owners.
Harry McMullen owns an empty corner lot separated from the canal by a narrow strip of land owned by Brewer that would be part of the hotel extension.
“You can’t build something like that across the canal without supporting it from the other side, our side,” McMullen said. “And by doing so, the view from our property to the canal will be blocked.”
Brewer said he has the right to build on his own land. He also noted McMullen has had his property up for sale for the past couple years after abandoning his own plans to build a hotel.
“For him to say ‘you’re blocking my view,’ I say this is my land and it has been for 18 years,” Brewer said. “Am I supposed to reserve it for him? He should have bought it all.”
McMullen, who owns Alliance Steel, said he couldn’t afford Brewer’s price. He also argued the revised plans would still create a tunnel effect along the canal.
Council members voted to delay a decision for two weeks and asked both sides to discuss their differences. They also told Brewer they will retain approval of any building extension if they approve the request.
McMullen gave up on his plan to build the hotel, and instead invested his money in an Aloe Vera plant in South America (true story). So what happened next? Gary Cotton happened next. He was a car dealer who cashed in big time from the explosion of development that took place along I-40 in Midwest City. Flush with cash, he did what no other aspiring developer had accomplished – he acquired control of both sides of the canal, creating the ultimate dream spot for development along the canal.
When Cotton revealed his plan for the property in January, 2008, it was met with genuine excitement.
Everyone was excited. But I had my doubts:
Even in this age of multiscreen theaters and $500,000 condos in Bricktown, the proposed Cotton Exchange project along the Bricktown Canal may be among the most ambitious yet for the entertainment district.
With a price tag of $36 million, the project — a four-story building linked to a 12-story tower — would add 66 condominiums and replace a barren but prime corner of the canal with a dense mix of offices, shops and restaurants.
But will it really happen?
Gary Cotton is first to admit he’s new to development, though he’s owned properties in Bricktown for the past few years. He has bought and sold the Bricktown Mercantile and Wells Fargo buildings, and still owns an empty building at 329 E Sheridan.
Veteran Bricktown observers recall other big projects proposed but never realized — most notably The Factory proposed in 2003.
“There are a lot of people excited about Bricktown and how it’s going to evolve and continue to change,” said Jim Cowan, director of the Bricktown Association. “But it’s a question of does this fit in Bricktown, and can it go from drawings to actually breaking ground?”
To compensate for a lack of development experience, Cotton has assembled a team of players with long ties to Bricktown’s emergence as the state’s premier entertainment district.
Architectural Design Group’s most visible project is the AT&T Bricktown Project. Other downtown projects include the City Center garage and the Legacy at Arts Quarter apartments.
Timberlake Construction built several properties in Lower Bricktown, including The Centennial, and is also building the Block 42 condominiums in nearby Deep Deuce.
Sperry Van Ness has represented sales and leasing on several downtown properties, and recently sold out all 30 condominiums at The Centennial. The firm also has represented sales at Block 42.
Cotton still needs to complete financing for The Cotton Exchange. That financing, he said, cannot be completed until after conceptual designs are approved by the Bricktown Urban Design Committee.
Gary Gregory, managing director of Sperry Van Ness in Oklahoma City, predicts financing won’t be difficult considering the success of The Centennial.
“It’s easier when you’ve done it before, that you can say we can do it again,” Gregory said. “When we first worked with The Centennial, there were no sales to compare to in this area. It just hadn’t happened yet. Now it’s easier to make a decision.”
Gregory hints he already has a list of potential buyers who didn’t get the chance to buy a canal-side condominium at The Centennial. He also thinks buyers are to be found from outside the metro area — especially in west Oklahoma.
“What we found is, and through our marketing efforts, there are a lot of people who want to be near the excitement and heat of downtown,” Gregory said. “I think very easily we can fill another 60 to 70 units.”
As for timing, Cotton insists he’s ready to start “as soon as possible.” But he’s also weary of making a common mistake by developers of over-promising and ending up looking like he’s all hype and no action.
He’s also aware that many challenges remain, and that the nature of the site makes it difficult for new construction. But he adds Timberlake Construction is ready to start work.
“The little building was supposed to be open by May,” Cotton says, laughing. “So we’re already behind schedule.”
It didn’t take long for everyone involved to realize the world was changing. By late 2008, the deal was dead and I gave my own thoughts on why the property seemed to be going nowhere fast:
Thursday was one of those good/bad days for Bricktown.
Bad because Gary Cotton was the first property owner to learn, once and for all, that sale prices in the entertainment district aren’t bound to go forever up and he may be in a world of hurt. Good because Cotton and his peers may finally be sobering up to the reality that they can’t buy and flip properties at higher and higher prices, leaving the area’s long-term future in jeopardy.
Cotton didn’t disclose his desired minimum bid for his Bricktown properties at an auction Thursday. But it was clear he at least wanted to recover the millions he had spent on the properties a few years ago. He didn’t come close. And he wanted so much more.
Cotton was simply trying to do what the late Jim Brewer, Chris Johnson, Harry McMullen, the Tyler family and others had done along the same stretch of the Bricktown Canal. Nobody did more but to keep the property mowed then sold the patch of land for thousands if not millions more than the original price.
Sure, Cotton proposed a $36 million mixed-use development for the site. Brewer, Johnson and McMullen had all pitched their own plans for the same patch of land.
With each sale, development prospects dimmed a bit because of the rising cost of the dirt itself. Those watching the failed auction included French Hickman, who has struggled to find a buyer for his properties who might pay not just Hickman’s costs but also provide a nice profit.
Many blame this buy-and-sell game for the abundance of empty storefronts in what is otherwise a thriving entertainment district. Several spaces are empty not due to lack of interest, but rather, according to potential tenants, because of owner demands for $20 or more per square foot.
Cotton seemed to be having no luck selling the property. He tried to make money by contracting with mobile vendors and small amusement operators to set up along his property on busy summer weekends (those attempts were usually met with reminders that they weren’t always in compliance with city codes and zoning).
A buyer finally appeared, and what do you know – it’s Chris Johnson!
Johnson, owner of USA Screenprinting, was going to build a small retail shop – A “House of Bedlam” – and parking where Cotton and McMullen once dreamed of building mid-rises. This latest proposal was loathed by pretty much everybody in Bricktown who felt it was a cheap, shallow approach to make easy cash on parking instead of bringing a development they felt was more worthy of the corner.
The Bricktown Urban Design Committee has made it clear, they do not support building any more surface parking along the canal. Johnson has amended his plans, somewhat, but the parking remains. So today I’ll be covering the fourth face-off between the two sides.
As I close this very long post (forgive me), consider one more detail: Johnson entertained an offer by some very credible developers to partner with him to build a high rise hotel on the corner, a project that would have been similar to what was envisioned years ago by Harry McMullen. Johnson ultimately rejected the pitch, saying he was only willing to sell the property. In the meantime, he has pushed through with his own proposal, seemingly hostile to any suggestion that his vision for the property is uninspiring to many of his neighbors.
So I close this with a question: did Johnson really spend a premium to buy all this property just to build a House of Bedlam store, restaurant and parking? Is Johnson serious about his proposed development, or is there another agenda at play, as was alleged in his never fulfilled 2003 proposal?
Sorry about that. This has been one of those weeks where work, personal life were both extremely busy. Let’s get a conversation started. If you had the money, talent and ability, what, if anything, would you do to improve Bricktown?
Let’s start off by breaking some hearts – Nordstrum’s isn’t coming to Bricktown. It probably won’t go to Core to Shore or anywhere else downtown. It’s a fantasy, one that some folks won’t let go. And no, there won’t be a mall built downtown. And the prospects for a life-style center aren’t great either (a few years back someone with Simon Malls suggested a scenario where one could be built in Core to Shore, but 2007 is now history – ancient history).
But retail can prosper downtown. It needs to prosper downtown as part of an ongoing journey into the future.
For the past two weeks I’ve struggled with a very hoarse throat, and today, I was back to being virtually speechless. But work beckoned, so I turned to email to get some interviews done for my story on the Bricktown strategic plan. One such correspondence provides an opportunity to provide you with the full context of my conversation with Chad Huntington, a veteran Bricktown observer who co-owns the Bricktown Marketplace and Red Dirt Emporium:
Question: The study indicates that bankers are less interested in backing bars and restaurants in Bricktown, and are more interested in retail and housing. Visitor marketing studies show retail also is a key factor for long term viability of an urban entertainment district. What obstacles have you faced in operating retail in Bricktown, and why aren’t more people following your lead?
Chad: Most of the challenges we have had is due to a real and/or perceived lack of retail density, and also a lack of awareness that significant retail even exists in Bricktown. We actually have worked to create our own retail density by opening the Bricktown Marketplace in 2010. It is now the largest locally-owned retail floorplate in all of downtown, at roughly 6,000 square feet. Something we tried to do different, though, was carve the space up into manageable pieces, allowing smaller, independent retailers to rent space. I believe that a major obstacle to retail in Bricktown – apparently unaddressed in the study – has been a lack of smaller retail spaces in Bricktown. Local, mom-and-pop style shopkeepers generally can’t say grace over 4,500 feet, 6,000 feet, 10,000 feet, yet often those were the only choices, as I think building owners have been hesitant to carve out 500 or 1200 feet for a small retailer, potentially eliminating an opportunity down the road to lease or develop a large contiguous floorplate. That is why we felt it was important to provide smaller, more manageable spaces, and even to essentially provide staffing services by centralizing the checkout.
Another challenge has been in finding the right product mix. The study mentions the importance of better understanding the market, and I believe that is key. Our first operation (Oklahoma’s Red Dirt Emporium) came about because for years we heard Water Taxi passengers asking for shopping that was authentically Oklahoman. We might not have never considered that product mix, or even a store itself, if we had not listened to what the market was asking for. This has also proven to be the case in the marketplace. Vendors who are constantly adapting their product mix to what customers already in the district are asking for thrive; those who do not don’t thrive. Bricktown has some natural advantage in already having a large number of customers. The trick is to figure out what they are interested in buying.
Question: Tell me about the addition of Signature Books and why you see that as an important addition to the marketplace.
Chad: Books of course are a great impulse item. Many of our customers are visitors, convention-goers, business travelers, and spouses of the same. We’ve been asked in the past if there is a good bookstore downtown, and unfortunately we’ve not had a place to send people. There are also quite a few locals who pop in at lunch, or after dinner or events, and lots of people love to hunt through a trove of great old books. We are thrilled to have a longstanding book dealer like Wayne take an interest in the marketplace, and think it will be beneficial to our mix, to his business, and to the locals and visitors who come into the store.
Question: How will the addition of Guestroom Records at the ACM add to the retail efforts along the canal?
Chad: It’s a natural with the proximity of ACM. You have students who are working on their own musical foundations, and they will now have a great place to discover new and old music that will influence them in their career. But beyond that, I think many travelers look for great record stores when they are visiting a city, especially in an urban area. When I visited New York City last year, one of the highlights of the trip was spending a considerable amount of time in Bleecker Street Records in the West Village. Guest Room is exactly that kind of record store, and I think it’s a brilliant stroke of luck for everyone concerned that they will be here soon.