The Mauling of the ‘Coolest Street in America’
Or is it malling? It’s both. And it’s bad.
Neon lights and mall glitz is what has now been inflicted on Venice residents’ most important commercial street. Neon.
When avariciousness runs amok, we get what we just got this month: two mall stores normally found at the likes of the Westside Pavilion or the Santa Monica Promenade just opened for business on the street. We’re talking about the huge Adidas and the ubiquitous shiny Smash Box make-up purveyor. It’s not just the newbie property owners bringing in these corporate mall stores. Those owners who used to see themselves as shepherds of the street have succumbed to the big bucks too. That is just a sweet memory now. The syndicators and the money guys have taken over. This is a takeover by the corporate dis-engaged who don’t know or care about the community they have just settled into. Their trash piles up uncontrolled in the alleys, graffiti remains on their newly painted building, and the sidewalks are mucked up with filth. This benign neglect is on every block where you have a dis-engaged corporate operator — donuts, coffee, makes no difference. They are pretty much all the same. We know corporations have no soul. Around here they are blind too.
It is ironic that the Adidas operation opened in the former space of the most local and community-committed restaurant, Hal’s. Smashbox encamped in the old classic Bountiful space. No Venice funky anything in these two operations. No committed anything in these corporate entities — just young beautiful sales people who are here today and will be gone tomorrow. These two, new shiny objects all replace long gone icons. It is stunner. Anyone who still believes there is a chance in this era of the Snapster to retain some, just some, of the authenticity that made Venice a truly unique local town, forget it.
That Venice is over.
The Corporate Carnage Continues
All of this is not much different than the raping of our housing market by Wall Street and foreign owned investor-syndicators.They’ve illegally taken over thousands of our rental units and turned them into Airbnb’s. We shouldn’t blame this just on outsiders coming in for their latest kill. Far more despicable is that many of our rental unit losses have been at the hands of powerful local movers and shakers. They have turned entire apartment buildings into quasi hotels and some of them are now being sued by the city attorney.
Out-of-area developers are amplifying our loss. These predators have totally changed the ‘touch and feel’ of the oldest community. They have slapped up two-on-a-lot boxes on many Oakwood streets. They are the slam-bang-thank-you-ma’am kind of developers — they’re in and then they are gone forever on to their next target.
Unlike the local developers of past years, these developers have a clear focus — to make money and lots of it — and get out. They do not have a scintilla of interest in the Venice community. Our city deciders don’t know the word ‘’overbuild’ or understand, or even grasp the concept of mass, scale and character. Pretty much everything gets approved. If the lobbyists prevail, don’t be surprised if Venice’s most important and most congested street is forced to choke down a huge city-block-long hotel. The collateral damage from such a huge project will creep insidiously and permanently into our lives in many, many ways — some will be subtle and some will smack you in the face forever. Place your bets on how long it will be after it gets built before you see a Marriott sign up on the place. That’s where the big bucks lie.
Is there anything anyone can still do to maintain some semblance of our authenticity and uniqueness? No.