It’s been awhile so let’s review class! Back in November of 2011, in regards to Little Traveler owner Mike Simon shutting down the Merra-Lee shops, downtown Geneva landlord, cheerleader, and fast friend of Mayor Burns, Joe Stanton, said this:
“I don’t believe Mike Simon would ever risk the welfare of his tenants or downtown Geneva. This is a brilliant move by a great businessman. This is a good sign for downtown Geneva. Mike is confident he can fill those spaces because he believes the economy is improving.”
Not one to leave himself any wiggle room, Stanton added, “This is a well-thought-out plan that will benefit all of Geneva. Eighteen months from now, people will look back on this calculated risk and say Mike Simon was 'smarter than the average bear.' ”
Really? The last time I looked, virtually every one of those east side of Third Street stores running south from Route 38 still sits blatantly empty. And please note, out of my boundless generosity and the vast goodness of my heart, I gave it two years. (You can read the original column here.)
Apparently the “brilliant” bar is set pretty low these days.
Of course, we probably shouldn’t be surprised because Mr. Stanton has proven to have a penchant for mis-prognostication.
He swore he was reducing economy stricken tenant rents until he forced the Pure Gardener right into Batavia. He swore before the City Council that he couldn’t convert the iconic Pure Oil building into a bank drive-through until he did. And then he blatantly applied the Mayor’s muscle to get a better deal on the vacant Mill Race Inn property – to no avail I might add.
In all fairness, State Street Jewelers will be moving a few doors down to the corner of Third and State, but that’s nothing more than shuffling the deck. So now the premier downtown Geneva corner will consist of two jewelry stores, a national coffee chain, and a night club that’s managed to rack up two liquor violations in two short years and one of ‘em was a real doozy!
Who’d a thunk the not-so-highly regarded national poster child for bad coffee would be the cream of the crop (pun intended!)?
So here’s my advice, dear reader. Do whatever it takes to discover who Mr. Stanton’s rooting for in the World Series and bet big money against them. Remember, Joe is the same guy who thought Mayor Burns would best Chris Lauzen in the Kane County Chair race only to see that go south by 40 points.
With his track record, how could you possibly go wrong?
The sad things is, this ain’t nearly the worst of it for our fading downtown. Despite predicting it here, and here, the fine folks at City Hall were flabbergasted that Safeway and Dominick’s Finer Foods is fleeing Chicagoland. In fact, an insider told me that Economic Development Director, Ellen Divita, was “absolutely shocked that Dominick’s was leaving.”
Apparently she was the only one. And people have the nerve to say I’m not that smart!
Will someone please tell me, other that pull down six figures, occupy space, cheerlead for the Chamber, and consistently carry a huge stack of three ring binders around to make it look like she’s actually doing something, exactly what does Ms. Divita do?
Can anyone name just one of her “accomplishments?”
Third Street north and south of Route 38 is a disaster, we still don’t have a downtown grocery store – or any other reason for regular Genevans to go downtown, and quality shops continue vanish only to be replaced by yet another furniture store or day spa.
Do we really need another antique shop?
It wouldn’t be that bad if Divita was simply ineffective, but her latest stratagem of lobbying to increase the downtown sales tax so the Mayor can reward landlords like Simon and Stanton, who have barely more business acumen than she does, with free building upgrades, is far worse than doing nothing at all.
So let me get this straight! At a time when Illinois shoots down an Internet sales tax and the Net has provided independent retailers with a magnificent reprieve by doing some serious damage to the big box stores (Barnes & Noble and Best Buy will be the next to go), she’s gonna make it more expensive to shop downtown?
And in a marvelous irony, the only way the City Council can raise that sales tax is by declaring downtown Geneva to be “blighted.” That’s right! “Blighted!” Oh! That oughtta bring in more businesses!
Un-fricken-believable! Only in Geneva, Illinois. Between Stanton, Simon, the Chamber of Commerce, the Mayor, and Divita, the only thing that surprises me is that downtown Geneva has lasted this long.