Sunday, August 16, 2009

Do as I say, not...

Hope springs eternal

So according to the venerable Daily Hampshire Gazette, the Amherst Chamber of Commerce wants to convene a summit meeting of downtown heavy-hitter landlords (and there are only a half-dozen) in response to empty storefronts; meanwhile, less than a week later, the same paper carries a Front Page story about Chamber director Tony Maroulis adding to the problem by closing his art gallery at the end of this month.

The Bully re-reports (from the Gazette)

And it now looks like Lincoln Realty has rented one of the spaces anyway to yet another restaurant (probably for their asking price), without benefit of said summit. And so it goes...
Probably should have removed the Fram Filter sign


Anonymous said...

amherst does not support the arts

Anonymous said...

Or drop the umlauts in wunder (there are none)!

Anonymous said...

The space is already being shared by some investment advisors, who will be taking over the space.

Jared said...

It's too bad Tony's studio is closing. I know walking into Elements Spa that it's really really nice inside, such that you wouldn't expect it being wedged between a pizza place and old auto parts building. Hopefully for Elements sake, something nice will go in there.

Unfortunately the cards are against the new restaurant where Fatzo's and Rolando's both lost their hands. The rent there is simply too high to support a restaurant that isn't wildly popular like Antonio's.

LarryK4 said...

Anon 8:13 AM
According to the venerable Gazette they are only continuing to use it the way the have for a while now (bankers hours) and that the owners are still looking to rent it out.

Yeah Jared, I have my doubts about the new restaurant (almost dead certain ones) and the hot tub place.

But I'm a cranky old pessimist.

Ed said...

Larry, you have to understand one thing: you have driven the college students out of town.

They now go to Springfield. They now go home every weekend. From your "community policing" that would never be tolerated if aimed at any group other than white males to the town/gown stuff to everything else, you have made this place incredibly hostile to young people.

And they, and their money, is now gone. Downtown Amherst is "Drive Through" country - and it is going to be a lot worse this year with Lincoln Avenue closed. You have killed the goose that was laying golden eggs and now you don't have them anymore....

'bach said...

Anonymous said...

Ed, get real. One quarter of the student population turns over every year. Businesses that cater to students (and do a good job of it) such as Bart’s, Bueno y Sano and Antonio's are doing great. The death of Amherst as a student hangout is overrated.

BTW, I've seen a high turnover of storefronts in Amherst for over 45 years. Anyone remember Dangling Conversation, Sunshine Records, or Border of Our Lives?

The reality is that well-run businesses thrive here. Amherst Chinese and Panda Garden both expanded such that they are much larger than their original storefronts. Students shop in Amherst. The drinking age is now 21, not 18, like it was decades ago. Amherst is not the bar scene for students it once was because fewer of them can legally drink.

Students keep Amherst businesses humming, always have, always will.

Anonymous said...

Yes the students keep this town alive, however they are gone four months of the year(Jan,June,July,and August). Competition from the e-stores have hammered retail sales. The shops the above has mentioned are eateries and don't have to compete with the internet. As far as "always have and always will" I wouldn't be too sure about that. Students disposable income is shrinking and when their student fees go back up when the stimulus money runs out, watch out. Tattoo parlors, pizza and beer joints don't make a vibrant downtown. When we start seeing more empty spaces here and in other towns and less taxes being raised(no sales tax from e-sales) you will soon see casinos and houses of prostitution emerging. I am not joking.

Anonymous said...

Hey, Chicken Little, this is not the first recession Amherst has weathered. You think we're hit hard? Try Detroit. Stores that cater to students are mostly fast food joints, so what is wrong with that? Towns always change. We don't have any horse stables, men's hat shops, or cigar stores anymore. There was a time when you could buy a TV in Amherst at two different stores. The ice man isn't coming by either. Times change. Amherst business will survive.

BTW, tried to get into the Amherst Cinema on Saturday night but it was sold out. Someone's still here.

Anonymous said...

I've operated my business in downtown Amherst for 37 years and have been thru all the recessions. However times are changing including the death of retail establishments. I bet this doesn't effect you but when it does I don't want to hear you complain why you can't buy men's cloths, or music or books or get anything repaired in Amherst. Your example of Amherst Cinema is a business that was founded with close to 3/4 of a million in grants and needs yearly fund raising to survive, besides charging admission like any other business. Can all stores get grants and fund raising to survive? Get real asking the public for funding to keep a bussiness afloat is not sustainable.

Tony Maroulis said...

Hi Larry -

You know I'm a pretty avid reader because I told you so (sometimes I check in a few times a day), so thanks for the love. I would have responded sooner, but I'm on vacation with the family.

A few quick things:

1. I appreciate the cynicism regarding the article about the Chambers hopes to convene a summit with landlords and the closing of wunderarts. The timing is pretty yucky, which I acknowledge. Kind of looks bad, but the real situation was that we lost our fall show due to illness, have been burned out by working two jobs and missing the kids, and felt, along with our partners, that it was time. It would help if we could monetize what we own, as well; we'll see on that.

2. My plan, as it were, does not just include downtown. I'm concerned with the town as a whole, and I'm sure you're as aware as anyone of the vacancies all around Amherst. I don't pretend I have answers. But I have ideas. And from them and those of others, we might conceive of a strategy to get things more stable and moving in the right direction. It can happen. My hometown of Asbury Park, NJ is a good example of good ideas and decent planning making things work (it DID take a million years, tho . . .). I'm not afraid to fail.

3. Amherst did support us and wanted us to work as evidenced by the numbers we'd drew to our openings and events (150-400 per opening). I do think we're a pretty good arts town. We draw 250,000+ to arts related events each year. The arts should be one vital piece to any economic development plan.

4. One of the posters said that well-run businesses work in Amherst. That's absolutely true (you've been around for 27 years, right?). In our case, we built the space out with (mostly) our own hands and did well enough to attract good attention in the regional art press for our artists and the town. I suppose we COULD have been better about selling art, which could have kept us going longer, but we're proud of what we did and tried.

5. To anon 11:11 - we're aware that the umlauts aren't supposed to be there. It's my nod to Motorhead and Motley Crue :)

Things changed over the past few years. I worked part-time when we got started and am fulltime+ now. Life changes. New challenges ahead.


Anonymous said...

I must add to the asking the public to keep a bussiness afloat is not sustainable. Look at the railroad system, the postal system, the highway system and now the car industry. When you go to the well too many times you will eventually run out of water.

LarryK4 said...

Of course if I wanted to be overly cynical I could point out that the happy heads who first tried to do Amherst Cinema project had a $10 million start up budget in mind (via grants and fundraising). Yikes!

Barry Roberts salvaged their naive pipe dream (for a Hell of a lot less $ all of it private) and probably today gives the Chamber of Commerce a break on their rent as well.

Anonymous said...

Wunderarts owner:
The rest of the people in the town understand your position. Don't be concerned by criticism on this site. We appreciate your effort in starting up Wunderarts (and we "got" the umlaut issue too), and we appreciate your efforts with the Chamber. Oh oh... a positive comment on "Only in the Republic of Kelley."

Regarding your point 4. I don't think you should assume that the Blogger's business is well-run. As a private business, I don't think he has to open his books for public scrutiny. I've been told that he doesn't turn a profit, but I will be the first to admit that I don't know. Rumor is good enough for other targets on this site, so why not the blogger's business?

Anonymous said...

The fact is that all businesses will eventually close. It is just a matter of time. The time frames are now getting shorter. You use to see established 1800's over the entrance doors, now your lucky to see established 1990's. The future of a retail shop is simple economics, you need to have an income greater than expenses. This is not rocket science. Most landlords in Amherst don't care who they rent too and most don't care about their success. They have their own success to tend too. I havn't seen many of them going out of busniness. A few landlords do care and can determine the look of the retail district. To them I applaud you.

LarryK4 said...

Anon: 6:47 AM
Tha Amherst Athletic Club has not paid federal taxes on profits in almost 8 years, because there were/are no profits.

And I've never said my business was particularly well run.

But like a terminal cancer patient who sets a goal to survive until a particularly important anniversary and defies the odds in so doing, I've decided to keep the doors open until January 30, 2012--our 30'th anniversary.

And I will move Heaven, Hell and earth to make that happenz (mainly because cowardly Nitwit Anons like you would take such pleasure in the alternative.)

Anonymous said...

I wouldn't call myself "chicken little" but only a realist based on what I have observed my last 37 years in retail business. If a volcanic scientist says the volcano is going to blow you would be well advised to pack your bags and get out of dodge. I wouldn't call him chicken little. Of course it is difficult to get to the truth. Are we in climate warming and past the tipping point, are we at peak oil? Last year about this time I heard Bob Costas interviewing then Presdient Bush and asking him if he could enjoy the Olympics with all the problems back home. His response was "what problems, America is doing just fine". I was wondering if he was either bullshiting us or just plain out of touch. The following months I watched the financial systems go into a tailspin and I think only history will show how really bad it was. I still don't think we are at the end of it. So just call me "chicken little" and let history be the judge.

Anonymous said...

As an Amherst Landlord I most certainly care about the businesses that open my my buildings, but it's not my job to tell them what makes a viable business.

Times and tastes always change so my advice wouldn't be worth much anyway.

It's true that you can't buy a toaster downtown anymore but that doesn't mean that the downtown is unhealthy. We have a lot more than retail. We have therapists, lawyers, investment advisors, insurance companies, architects, and a host of other service providers that are based downtown. (Often in offices above the street level).

I think the turnover will work its way through after the recession ends. What those businesses should be shouldn't be dictated by the Amherst Chamber or anyone else but the marketplace.

Anonymous said...

Well Mr Landlord I must agree with you the marketplace will determine for all of us, including the value of your property.

Anonymous said...

I agree with you about that. In the meantime, I have a new boiler to put in, a new roof to put on and the replacement of the windows in one of the buildings. All of which cost a lot of money. Being a landlord isn't just sitting back and cashing checks.

Anonymous said...

"Tha Amherst Athletic Club has not paid federal taxes on profits in almost 8 years, because there were/are no profits."

---Really???? well, lucky you, having another source of income and having the club as a hobby, I guess.

You criticize the business plan of other health clubs (some of which seem to be thriving) and other businesses, yet you're not turning a profit, even pre-recession? You criticize the business practices of the town. What right do you have to criticize anybody for not running their business or office well? No profit in almost eight years? No taxes paid? So let me get this straight. You run a business, rely on the town for safety to that business (police/fire), yet your business does not contribute to the salaries???? You and your followers criticize the sup. for not paying taxes in Amherst. DUH!

No, I wouldn't feel good if you went out of business. I don't gloat when any business fails, even when the owner does everything he can to turn off potential customers. (Well, I did gloat when McD's went out of business). A business owner who criticizes potential customers for their views, for their place of employment??? Sounds like a bad business plan.

Will we take pleasure when you shutter the club? No. Will we be surprised? No. Will we suggest a better business model? Only if asked.

Others have told you previously how to eliminate "cowardly nitwit anons" (i.e., nearly everybody that posts here). One is to eliminate anonymous posting. The other is to not threaten posters who disagree with you. You have said that you never threatened anybody. Yes... you have.

LarryK4 said...

Actually I have paid taxes to the state (the annual corporate fee of $456 and $125 annual report filing fee) every year. And all sorts of other taxes and fees.

To Amherst I pay water/sewer fees, and for a few years the "personal property" tax on all my equipment.

And as a homeowner I also, UNLIKE the new School Superintendent (by far the highest paid Amherst public employee), pay Amherst housing taxes--the second highest property tax in the region.

And if the "Amherst Plan" Override had passed a couple years ago Amherst would now be #1 for local property taxes.

By the way, the Feds don't provide much "police/fire" protection on a local level. The town recently did NOT get a Federal grant, so 3 police positions will go unfilled.

The CEO of Whole Foods recently came under fire for his common sense observations in the Wall Street Journal about President Obama's socialistic national health care plan (now DOE).

Many liberals cried boycott for his views. Some of those who posted responses said they would "never shop there again."

Others posted that they have NEVER shopped there before, but now would.

This blog is also a "hobby". And I don't see you as a "potential customer" at all (at least not one I would prefer to deal with).

Just a cowardly Anon nitwit with too much time on his hands.

Anonymous said...

Yes Mr Landlord people only see the money coming in and not going out. Although I appreciate the Chambers efforts and the Towns future Masterplan I too realize it is the marketplace that determines the towns retail look. However since the retail market is controlled by a few players the marketplace on the rental side is a fairly closed one.

Anonymous said...

Well it looks like Tony will have to sit down and have a talk with himself on who's going to rent his space. My quess is the first tennant that will pay the rent.

Anonymous said...

If you want services then you should shut up and pay taxes. Have a road that goes by your place of business? We'll you don't have to pave it yourself.

Xenos said...

And as a homeowner I also, UNLIKE the new School Superintendent (by far the highest paid Amherst public employee), pay Amherst housing taxes--the second highest property tax in the region.

Is that really fair? I rent and the fact that I rent does not cost the town any taxes... it is part of the rent that I pay, even if it is the responsibility of my landlord to pay them.

The guy just moved to town. He would be a fool to buy a house before he knows this gig will work out and that he can safely buy a house. It appears he is not a fool, which is a good thing.

Anonymous said...

Amen to Xenos. Now it's time to move on, make the new sup. feel welcome, wish the Wunderarts owner luck in whatever he does next, and ask more questions about a business owner who criticizes other business owners' business plan, but hasn't turned a profit or paid taxes in eight years. Yikes.

LarryK4 said...

Yeah and did I mention he's not moving his family to town (that sounded like for the duration of his contract and not just until he gets settled).

At least Tony gave up on his business in order to "spend more time with the family."

Xenos said...

Well, here is a critical question. The high-end superintendents are recruited pretty heavily, and are now working just a couple years at each district, working their way up to more lucrative and high status communities. They are acting like businessmen, dammit!

The solution is to develop local talent with deep roots in the community. That will take years, I suspect.

LarryK4 said...

Anytime you get anybody who does something simply for the money that's problematic (no loyalty to "the cause" for one thing).

If you asked almost any Amherst teacher they would say they are "in it for the kids."

But ask them to give up their 3.5% raise to save jobs of fellow teachers to keep things better for the kids and the union tells you to go fly a kite (during a thunderstorm)

The state is catching on to Superintendents Country Club mentality and regionalization will dramatically reduce the demand side of the equation.

Anonymous said...

The superintendent is the employee not the employer. He's under no obligation to buy here and pay property taxes. Whst an absurd line of reasoning. We want someone to do a job and this is the guy we hired. He's not an elected official where you have an expectation that he live here. He could live on the moon as long as he can make it to work every day. It's like complaining your snowplow guy doesn't live on your block.

LarryK4 said...

Well the somewhat experienced Town Manager (who theoretically has more responsibility than the rookie Super) IS required to live here for his salary, which is now 20% below the rookie (both to Amherst in particular and Superintendentness in general.)

'bach said...

"3. Amherst did support us and wanted us to work as evidenced by the numbers we'd drew to our openings and events (150-400 per opening). I do think we're a pretty good arts town. We draw 250,000+ to arts related events each year. The arts should be one vital piece to any economic development plan."

Mr. Maroulis:

have you heard my story and the debaucle they call they 250th art and literature subcommittee?

they doused my slowly rising star with politics. now i live in poverty, yes poverty...when they could have paid me for my hard work, which would have kept my life on track.

in other's words...

"I try as much as possible to avoid getting involved in Amherst politics, but something is obviously wrong here. At the very least a person of Sendelbach's stature should not be treated so shabbily. I hope that a quick settlement on this matter can be reached." - t. devine

"... I am a student of grace and good conduct, and have in my 28 years come to believe in a common code which demands that we honor honest labor with fair compensation, that we pay tribute where tribute is due. To my knowledge, the Town of Amherst has failed, to the severe detriment of one of its most talented and genuinely friendly citizens, in this most basic duty. This would behoove me as a former resident of Amherst, as a friend of John's, and as a patron of the arts, to kindly ask that you work in earnest to fulfill the Town's financial obligations to John before a standing bitterness for this blatant disregard blights an admirable legacy in the arts." - C. E. McClelland

also read:
academy endorsement

this is how amherst treats arts and artists. string them along for months and months, ask them to do more and more work (after a fee schedule has been delivered), then dump them without recourse.

Anonymous said...

Go to court. Produce your emails, records of meetings, copies of your drawings, etc. Let the judge decide.

Anonymous said...

I think you don't go to court because you don't have a case.

Anonymous said...

Your position is that you were contracted to do work. The problem with your Academy endorsement letter is that it undermines your case as it clearly says that you havea proposal for an art installation. It's a letter designed to advocate for acceptance of that proposal, which by its nature recognizes that they either can accept the proposal or not.

They didn't.

'bach said...

you can be contracted to do work which is to submit a proposal. they verbally contracted me to do work which was to create a proposal for a piece of public art in town. the contract was not to do the work of building it...that was for later stages, and out of my realm of services.

i have been hired many times by clients to do a landscape design, which, until design was accepted, was only a proposal...which i got paid for.

your argument is wrong. people give proposals for money all the time...that is what design professionals do.

whatever the legal mumbo jumbo is, the fact is that i acted in good faith and jumped through every hoop they asked me to, while terry rooney (apac chair who quit the committee) and others continually brought up in public meetings the fact that I should get paid for my work. especially after i had delivered my fees to date in january 09, and they asked me to do more work, which resulted in the academy endorsement, they should have acknowledged my sacrifice and paid me.

my proposal was for a property that abuts barry roberts' property, the cinema, ie carol johnson, and there may be others who were stakeholders i do not know about yet. barry is the chair of the 250th, and carol johnson sat on both the 250th and the arts and lit subcommittee. she was a main dissenter in the whole thing...quote from minutes


discussed the pros and cons of the four projects

secret vote:
charcoal 6
wooden 33
Spirit frame 34
tiles 25

noted that "it was clear that some members were disturbed by the winning vote"

Carol johnson and Terry rooney want to be on record as not supporting this project.
CJ feels that this project cannot be pursued, that there is vision but no implementation, and that the project is too big to handle and the design will not fit the location.

terry rooney, chair of the amherst public arts commission did not want to endorse what would have been one of the grandest achievements in the arts in amherst history, had the project been implemented. she does nice paintings of the wizard of oz.


large meeting with SENDELBACH, reading, schaffer, brestrup, griffiths/sinos, wald, barry roberts, et al

SENDELBACH delivers latest costs:

artist's fee concept & design development 100+ hrs .....$6,000.00


for me this is not so much a legal battle, but a moral battle. those committee members knew they were going to screw me by not paying. plain and simple. they're ethics suck.

'bach said...

read the handbook about conflict of interest. it would seem clear roberts and johnson had one.

'bach said...

the fact is my proposal would have made that ugly, hazardous parking lot into a people draw, which only could have benefited the cinema and robert's other tenants. hell, i oriented the crosswalk and parking lot walkway right to the frickin cinema entrance!

so why were they against it?

politics...they wanted to squash me...and they did.

that is what these people did...took my good faith, heart and soul devotion to creating a pleasant, enduring space and piece of art, which was heavily endorsed by others, and squashed it.

Anonymous said...

'bach -
I would love to support you, but in reading the material, it looks to me (I could be wrong) that you were in the position of an architect submitting a proposal for a new municipal building or something like that. That work is done pro bono. If the architect wins the competition, they get a lucrative contract. Can you explain how your work is different. I really would like to understand this.

Anonymous said...

Looks the same to me. They were sending a letter of support to advocate for your proposal. It was however a proposal as the letter states and the committee was free to vote yay or nay. They voted nay on your proposal and others. You have presented no evidence that this was a conspiracy to squash you as an artist, bankrupt you, etc.

'bach said...

If the architect wins the competition, they get a lucrative contract.

thanks dave.

you will note that there was a vote, as i just previously showed, which is in the minutes, and you can see the spirit frame design won. but apparently carol johnson got huffy over the outcome. given that she had a conflict of interest, she shouldn't have been voting anyways.

further, as i have documented, i delivered a fees to date in january 08 and they continued to ask for more revisions. at that point it was clear they accepted my terms, and were legally committed to paying me. in april adrienne terrizzi, and i had lengthy discussions about securing payment for me, which she was in agreement with, which she eludes to in the following email:

Good am, John,

Actually relieved that you've not written to Barry yet. Got to thinking and want to pass something on to you. Suppose you hold off including the cost estimate when you send your recent sketch model. Tell him you'd like to discuss this when you meet with him. He''s be more knowledgeable and is in a better position to advise on artist fee.. I know he'll be fair, assist in working out a fee and payment schedule, as well as to what he thinks the acceptance/not will be by the committee should you change from the original $6000 to $7500, a point I know will be raised by some.
Whaddya' think?

this clearly says that the committee accepted the 6000, but there may be a dispute over the upped fees for the extra work after january.

ask them why there is no legacy piece at all now. since they dumped the whole idea after getting all of the artists involved in submitting proposals, there is a serious ethical dilema there. if i lost, or did not meet their criteria, why didn't they then choose one of the runners up from the vote?

politics, that's why. they screwed up and are trying to cover their asses. and i suffered from their careless and wreckless actions.

'bach said...

to repeat:
designers give proposals for money all the time...that is what design professionals do.

besides, you are arguing semantics, to me it was a design they requested, not a proposal. the academy termed it a proposal at that point in the timeline, not me.

'bach said...

as for the conspiracy, the subpoenas for the committee member's will include their email accounts, there may be some juicy evidence their. i can see them now, deleting all of their emails...however, that doesn't work, the emails are still retrievable by the law, they remain stored, even though they don't show up on their accounts after deleting.

again, to me this is a moral and ethical could those people lead me down the road to ruins without even so much as a thank you after they dumped me?

that wreaks of conspiracy.

'bach said...

instead here is what i got:

Thursday, January 31, 2008 9:59 AM


Time to line up those donors supporting your Academy proposal. Ready, set, go!


Thursday, January 31, 2008 3:19 PM

"Adrienne Terrizzi"
"John Sendelbach"
You write as lyrically as you create your art. Certainly will inform him if he hasn't already heard....and eager to hear his response. Might there be others in your pipeline that you're thinking about as well? I'd like to have a bucketful; endorsements as well as financial backing, even if only as 'seed' money. I'm patient but timelines aren't...

An in and out day. Do you think we should we talk at some near point?


April 10, 2008
Mr. John Sendelbach 185 Sunderland Road AmherstMA 01002
Re: Solicitation of Donations for Amhersf s 250th Anniversary Celebration Dear Mr. Sendelbach:
It has come to the attention of the Committee for Amhersf s 250th Anniversary Celebration (250th Committee) that you contacted the owner of one of the Town's businesses and made a request for a donation to support a public art project that has been discussed in connection with the Town's 250th Anniversary Celebration.
All fundraising for the activities of the 250th Committee, a Town
Committee appointed by the Select Board, must be authorized by the 250th
Committee and conducted in keeping with guidelines established by the
250th Committee. The 250th Committee has a great many activities planned
to celebrate the Town's anniversary and has a number of fundraising
initiatives under way and under consideration. Among other things, we
want to avoid situations where one individual or business is contacted for
funding multiple times by different parties.
You have not been authorized to solicit donations on behalf of the 250th Committee. Please do not make any further solicitations of anyone - any individual or any business — for support of the activities of the 250th Committee.
If you would like to discuss this matter, please do not hesitate to call me.

Barry Roberts/Chair
Committee for Amherst's 250th Anniversary Celebration
cc: Adrienne Terrizzi

'bach said...

john's only reward from the amherst 250th

'bach said...

and who was the person i called....cinda jones...who stated she had no interest in supporting public art.

Anonymous said...

What does that have to do with anything? She may or may not like public art, so what's the point.

'bach said...

she was the president of the chamber of commerce at the time...located in roberts building right adjacent to my design site. you would think that "leader" in the community would want to do things to help the downtown aesthetic and business a piece of public art that touched on the educational kernel of the town of amherst, ie a tribute to the original amherst academy. the academy was the grammar school of emily dickenson, whose board of trustees included noah "dictionary" webster amongst others. don't you think another emily related site in town, closer to the business core would have benefited the town? all that is there now is a stone marker, and nobody knows what the hell it represents. the academy board went on to form amherst college. which speaks to the idea that the potential for donors for my design was virtually limitless...anyone who ever lived in town, went to school at amherst or umass etc. it wasn't even going to cost that much to build, but the committee refused to accept the vision....stating it cost too much. i probably could have raised enough money through my own efforts, but they were hot and cold about that.

btw i was instrumental in forcing the lumberjill to fix her lumberyard site which was polluting our neighborhood with floodwaters and dust, dirt and debris from the lumberyard. cost her some 30 k by her statement to me...and she has business dealings with roberts.

there some conspiracy motive for ya.

Anonymous said...

Only in your mind.