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Ripka’s RIP, Downtown’s Only Market Closes–Former Development Director Urges Call To Arms

December 24th, 2013 · 42 Comments · Analysis and Comment, Development and Zoning, News and Events

Ripka's

Inside Ripka’s after its opening in June. The market closed on Monday.

Walked into Ripka’s Market in the Arcade building shortly after noon on Monday. The few workers that remained were breaking down machinery and shelves. A worker inside said the place was closed … for good. It was Downtown’s lone market.

This was posted on Ripka’s Facebook page.

Good Afternoon Facebook Fans

It is with great sadness that we announcing the closing of our Bridgeport location. We like to thank you all for your support.

It was hoped housing units at Bijou Square, 881 The Lofts, City Trust Building, 333 State Street, Read’s Art Space, and other locations, as well as Downtown’s workforce, provided a foundation of support for the market. For the grand opening in June, owner Clyde Ripka met dozens of those Downtown residents introducing them to a 7,500-square-foot market featuring a bakery, butchery, produce, seafood, wine bar and a café. Guests munched on delicious samplings from the market. If first impressions counted, the market screamed inviting–-clean, impressive in presentation and the variety of grocery options available.

In the months that followed many Downtown residents said some prices were too high, perhaps too upscale for neighborhood tastes and interests. The quality appeared to decline in recent weeks.

Ripka’s had relied largely on word of mouth and Facebook to spread interest. Downtown, along with the East End, is now a food desert.

This closing comes on the heels of Staples announcing closure of its North End store.

Comment from Nancy Hadley, city’s former development director and Downtown resident:

I have lived in City Trust since 2007. I frequented Ripka’s several times a week. I did not have the same experience that Mustang Sally did … ever [Editor’s note: see comments]. I was the first to move into City Trust. Back then the market was promised, and promised, and promised. Finally through State assistance, the tenant fit-out dollars and environmental remediation, financing finally arrived so the market could be financeable. At the same time, several hundred units of additional residential housing was promised to increase the foot traffic.

The way I look at it, the state assistance brought the market into being two years in advance of the incoming residential market. Solution? A Call To Arms by the downtown developers, city, state and Community Capital to see what can be done. Nothing is over until it’s over. Ripka has the liquor license, the approvals, and the heart and experience to continue the crusade. I also think the RBS and Peoples Bank Building should close their cafeteria and send all of those employees out of the buildings and into the stores, restaurants and market.

It is a sad day for the Downtown Residents. They moved here for the transit-oriented development; access to the trains, ferry and buses with basic needs within walking distance. I for one am sad to think that the windows of the Arcade will be dark again. I am not ready to say goodbye to Clyde Ripka. I am hoping a Call to Arms happens between the public and private sector to keep strengthening this Downtown neighborhood and reopen the market.

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42 Comments so far ↓

  • Hector A. Diaz

    I’m sure their lease was not for six months, they should be held accountable for the full length of the lease.

    • John Marshall Lee

      Accountability is an interesting issue, Hector. There is a private landlord and a private business, right? Accountability? I would not worry about a landlord and a lease if I were you. I just never have heard you speak about accountability previously. What about City violations of the Charter monthly? What about failure to follow Ordinances, Hector? What about a police officer, trained in firearms, discharging a weapon in a public place and his consequences? What about a $400,000 access way paid for by Bridgeport? Why?
      How do you feel about taxpayers, Hector? Accountability to them? Time will tell.

    • Steven Auerbach

      I DO NOT THINK THEY WERE EVEN required to pay RENT FOR THE FIRST YEAR.

  • Bob Walsh

    I was shocked when it opened. I am not shocked that it closed.
    Hector, what does your post mean? If the landlord wants to hold them accountable then he can do so in civil court. Unless the city gave them money there is nothing the city can do.
    If it was an LLC or a single-asset corporation, then the landlord knew the inherent risk involved in the lease.

  • Bob Walsh

    Hector,
    Until the city gets serious developers downtown and gets serious with developers downtown, this will continue to be an ongoing cycle of events.
    I believe I read in the city of New Haven they expect 600 housing units to be built/converted in their downtown in the next 12 – 18 months. That is more than Bridgeport has in total if you do not count seniors and assisted units. Be grateful these people were willing to give it a shot. That’s a lot more than we have seen thus far in Downtown North.

  • Mustang Sally

    When it opened it may have offered a fresh perspective on markets and quality merchandise, but through the months freshness and quality went way downhill. I was down there last month and was appalled at the products they were trying to sell. The meats and salads under the glass were obviously way past their prime. The salads had crusts on them, some of the meats had a gray cast, and there were flies under the glass. To be succinct, it was repulsive.

    • Joel Gonzalez

      Ripka’s didn’t sell horse grain? I’m just kidding with you Sally. You raise a point many businesses fail to keep an eye on–quality.
      La Familia Restaurant moved their location from E. Main and Stratford Avenue to downtown back 2000. I took my wife there one night and I was more disappointed than she was. To be honest she was disgusted by the quality of food. The cook should have been shot like a Mustang with a broken leg. Quality is what had caused me to take my time on one of my ideas. I’m surprised this blog has lasted so long–I hear lots of people complaining about the quality of our comments.

  • Nancy Hadley

    I have lived in City Trust since 2007. I frequented Ripka’s several times a week. I did not have the same experience Mustang Sally did … ever. I was the first to move into City Trust. Back then the market was promised, and promised, and promised. Finally through State assistance, the tenant fit-out dollars and environmental remediation financing finally arrived so the market could be financeable. At the same time, several hundred units of additional residential housing was promised to increase the foot traffic.

    The way I look at it, the state assistance brought the market into being two years in advance of the incoming residential market. Solution? A Call To Arms by the downtown developers, city, state and Community Capital to see what can be done. Nothing is over until it’s over. Ripka has the liquor license, the approvals, and the heart and experience to continue the crusade. I also think the RBS and Peoples Bank building should close their cafeteria and send all of those employees out of the buildings and into the stores, restaurants and market.

    It is a sad day for the Downtown Residents. They moved here for the transit-oriented development; access to the trains, ferry and buses with basic needs within walking distance. I for one am sad to think the windows of the Arcade will be dark again. I am not ready to say goodbye to Clyde Ripka. I am hoping a Call to Arms happens between the public and private sector to keep strengthening this Downtown neighborhood and reopen the market.

  • Lake Forest Guy

    Along with the quality of food declining, the hours declined over time. The window of opportunity for a visit shrunk, making it much more difficult for commuting downtowners to consistently shop there.

  • Mojo

    *** As time went on and the sales dropped, so did the quality of everything fresh in the store. In order for these high-rent or leased business to survive downtown, the city has to give them and the owners of the buildings a “temp” break or reduction on their property taxes. If not, the prices of the goods will end up being a bit more pricey than other places and in these economic hard times, force customers to shop elsewhere cheaper! You just don’t build up a good word of mouth, high quality known business overnight in a city like Bpt. It takes time and money and a little help from your friends, customers and business associates, as well as the city or town you’re located in to be able to last and be successful in time! *** ONE STEP FORWARD, TWO STEPS BACK ***

  • Steven Auerbach

    I have been down to Ripka’s many times and have always been extremely impressed with the quality of their fish and deli. Unfortunately, it was a huge mistake to put a nice upscale grocery store downtown. A business cannot survive with just a handful of people living downtown. I have to pay just to support this business. There have to be at least 1200 new housing units of market rate housing to support a venue as well thought out as Ripka’s. Unlike many businesses downtown, a supermarket cannot afford to throw out produce daily. The business community does not support any of the venues. During the arts trail the arcade, which in and by itself should have been a draw, was empty. I met the guy running the DSSD there. Bridgeport needs to be building housing downtown. That will be the only ticket to help a grocery store. Ripka’s was a beautiful store, as nice as a Westport venue. Like many businesses moving downtown, the fear is how many years will they be able to survive without foot traffic. HOUSING HOUSING HOUSING … NOT REPLACEMENT MARINA VILLAGE HOUSING … DOWNTOWN NEEDS young professionals and a variety of housing options. THEN, you will see a demand. Until then, we wait and hope our economic development dept. can fast track and lure developers. Ripka’s closing is very sad. It was a quality enterprise and I am certain a sad day for Mayor Finch.

  • Baffled in Bridgeport

    Steve–it’s not a sad day for Mayor Finch. It’s another failure on his watch and a sad day for Bridgeport taxpayers. If you bring a developer or a business into the city, especially into the downtown, then you support it. There’s no leadership from the Mayor, his office or the office of economic development on supporting the new initiatives in town. Ditto the Bridgeport Regional Business Council and Paul Timpanelli. There’s been precious little development over the last years and the sad truth is downtown and corporate Bridgeport just aren’t walking the walk. Talk is cheap. Frequent the restaurants, use Bridgeport vendors and services, buy at the pharmacy, Gum Drop Swap, the Arena, hockey and the Bluefish. We’re not supporting our own and the leadership in this city isn’t asking that we do so. You are correct, more public housing is not economic development but this administration will spin whatever dregs they get into silk. Finch has had six or so years to do something and he’s done virtually nothing. Ripka’s is just one more victim of his incompetence.

  • Andmar

    It’s very unfortunate. People in Bridgeport get very excited when a new restaurant comes in, but it is easy to become disillusioned when you see establishments cycle in and out. It is not just Ripka’s, it’s Ripka’s, Épernay Bistro, Take Time Café, The Turkish restaurant that was in the arcade, The Mexican restaurant that was also in the Arcade mall, Port Coffee shop in Black Rock, and Polka Dot Theater to name a few. Look at the Lofts on Lafayette, from 2005-2008 the average sale price was $200,000. Compare that to 2009-2013 where the average sale price dropped to $44,000 and the average taxes are $6,300. This is why we can’t become overly excited when a new business comes in, as it needs to be sustainable and needs to stand the test of time.

    Nancy Hadley made great point about RBS having employees eat in downtown. I will also add we need to leverage the University of Bridgeport and Housatonic (employees and students). This can expand the consumer base and also allow for a young and vibrant appearance in downtown. Think creatively, maybe give out 100 bikes to UB students so they can ride to downtown and surrounding areas. We also need to leverage the commuters at the train station who just come and go. Also, we lose many people to the Trumbull mall.

    Bridgeport still needs to clean up its image in order to gain more confidence. This means making streetscapes inviting (no trash, more flowers etc), visibility of police officers, no loitering, no drinking/congregating in front of stores, no trash and no blight. People drive into Bridgeport and see this and they turn right around. Whether these are misconceived fears is not the point–perception is everything. Even if perceptions are not real, perceptions are always real in their consequences–the consequence being potential consumers choose to go elsewhere.

    • Steven Auerbach

      People need incentives to go downtown. ÉPERNAY was excellent. The food was delicious, the portions were average and the prices were high. They didn’t even have French onion soup the last few times I’d been there. In-house cafeterias are a luxury and a perk. Businesses do not need to take that luxury away to make people dine at downtown restaurants. It has always been sad city officials, most of whom live outside the City, do not patronize downtown venues. Rarely do I see city or BRBC members other than at the Bridgeport Symphony. We need to put housing on the fast track. Small piecemeal development no longer works. High rise units need to be built. Four-story housing downtown is silly for the state’s largest city. We need younger aggressive individuals in leadership roles at the BRBC. Sorry, but one really has to ask these days, just what is the benefit of belonging to the BRBC other than giving Paul Timpanelli a place to go? Nancy Hadley, I understand your frustration, but Ripka got the deal of the century to go in there and I know he had more incentives than most. He was just three years before his time. Downtown housing has moved at a snail’s pace. I love seeing renovated historic buildings for housing. We also need some new 12-story landmark buildings. Without them, Bridgeport’s image will not change. Mayor, this is your chance to save your legacy. Nobody wants to hear any pie-in-the-sky proposals anymore. Your development group needs to lure and put into action some major downtown housing. Phil Kuchma made a point. The Bijou is a top-notch theater and should be packed. Similar art theaters within a 30-mile radius pale in comparison.
      The city does not need to throw any money at Ripka. He has packed and left. Move on and put a much smaller little market for convenience. Certainly not full-scale shopping. Who is going to walk blocks with bags of groceries? Nice, Nancy lives next door. Note to Mayor Finch, if you had more cheerleaders in City Hall, instead of vice versa, maybe you would enjoy more fruit. You do not want to be watching Steelepointe coming into fruition at an accelerated pace while you are trying to get a job at the BRBC.

  • Black Rockin

    How much over $100,000 does Paul Timpanelli make for his insight and leadership in downtown Bridgeport?

  • Chosen 1

    Timpanelli makes a fantastic living to have a soft landing place for Finch when Ayala is our next mayor. It’s in the tea leaves.

  • Bridgeporteur

    Now what is going to happen to this space? I wish the owners would let the Greater Bridgeport Food Co-op use it. They have been trying to open a food co-op downtown for years. They tried with the “Create Here Now” event and were never given the dignity of a reply. They are the only licensed co-op approved by United Northeast Food Industries, having their license grandfathered in. They would start very small, attain a membership downtown and in the South End, of local professional residents and restaurants, then eventually sell shares. Volunteers would run it. It would work, it would revitalize downtown and provide a needed service. But I’m just dreaming.

  • MAGOO

    I see nothing has changed regarding Economic Development within the City. Merry Christmas to all of the OIB world.

  • Steven Auerbach

    I would like the Connecticut Post do an in-depth article on the City of Bridgeport’s department of Economic development. Starting with David Kooris down to Keith Rodgerson, former anti-Finch mayoral candidate. The people following Bridgeport’s progress are interested in just what this group is doing and accomplishing compared to Norwalk and Stamford. This article would give an amazing insight into what is actually not happening. It seems as though the City is hoping a December announcement that was promised regarding new retailers joining Bass Pro would make voters forget there is an entire city waiting and hoping for taxes to be reduced via major economic development. Mayor, not much time left to save your hope of major impact. All the fundraisers in the world will not be able to save you. The city public relations over the past two weeks has been an early Christmas gift to those hoping for your demise. Wake up, time to look at your crew. Their track record is not going to help you. I am assuming Mayor, you’d like to eventually be Governor. That was Joe Ganim’s aspiration also.

    • Bob Walsh

      A little too much Christmas eggnog for Stevie. Governor Finch???
      The voters in Connecticut are far smarter than the voters in Bridgeport.

      • Steven Auerbach

        Bill Finch is Mayor of Connecticut’s largest city. Finch was a State Senator. If he can win another term and turn Steelepointe into fruit then I’d say Bobbie Walsh, Finch’s chances to be Governor down the road would be pretty much a guarantee. There are a lot of “if” there. My New Year’s resolution: I am not going to be the Mayor’s lone cheerleader on this blog. Let his appointments blow smoke up his ass. Let the sharks do what they do and let the cards fall where they may. This is after all politics. We need a visionary in charge and we should all keep an open mind. Give credit when due and acknowledge the BULLSHIT for what it is.

    • Bob Walsh

      Steve,
      How is it the city’s brain trust that cannot develop the arcade mall is somehow going to make Steal Point work???
      New Year’s resolution: stop reading/stop believing Economic development’s press releases.
      And by now you should realize when the city says they hope to announce something they really plan on announcing nothing.
      A big chunk coal for Mr. Kooris and his development department.

  • Bob

    Another sad commentary on the economic and fiscal condition of a once-great city. Shame on the Democrats and their minions who run Bridgeport and who have no idea how to generate true and positive economic revival. And shame on Nancy Hadley who was and is part of the problem, not part of the answer.

  • Joel Gonzalez

    Nancy Hadley has a better pulse of downtown businesses. I noticed Nancy didn’t just write about her shopping experience with Ripka’s, she also made a good point and suggestion when she wrote: “I also think the RBS and Peoples Bank Building should close their cafeteria and send all of those employees out of the buildings and into the stores, restaurants and market.” I have been a People’s Bank customer like forever. People’s make enough profits for their investors who I’m sure don’t come to downtown Bridgeport. It’s time for me and other People’s Bank customers to let them know how we feel and remind them they are not the only bank we can do business with. I’d like Nancy Hadley to lead the charge on this one as I’ll be 100% behind her. Ripka’s may just need to change things a bit and do better at marketing their business. I’m willing to share some ideas and help for free. Paging Nancy Hadley: Check your Facebook messages as I have been reaching out to you for weeks.

  • Steven Auerbach

    Joel, nice in theory. If you cannot get everyone working downtown to support these businesses, how can you justify a successful business shutting down in-house cafeterias, which is a perk to associates, and demand they spend their money at downtown eateries? It is a sophomoric suggestion by Hadley and would be a real downer for associates working at Peoples and RBS. The solution to the problem is housing and foot traffic, not punishing associates and demand they patronize downtown business.

    • Bob Walsh

      The original tax break for People’s Bank included language that prohibited a company-subsidized cafeteria in the building but the city relented and removed the language as a favor to the bank.
      Sophomoric of the city not to keep the language in place, wouldn’t you say?

  • Grin Ripper

    Hate to be a bubble buster. I have been hearing about downtown being two years away for 34 years. Without a critical mass of jobs and housing nothing is going to happen. There is a reason why Starbucks isn’t here!

  • Bridgeporteur

    Any analysis of the Planning and Economic Development Agency should be put in the context that during Stamford’s downtown Renaissance, they had but one person on staff in their planning department, one City Planner and that man was Robin Stein. That points out it is the quality of staff, not quantity. One big thing to realize is the vacant Downtown North was vacated by the Planning and Economic Development Department, most of whom are still there, who with great aplomb condemned and relocated many viable businesses such as Davidsons and the Jason Building. Yes, an analysis of this department is needed. Then-BEDCO Director Bill Finch was instrumental in creating the vacant Downtown North, as they, the City and Ganim thought a Courthouse was going there. Under Nancy Hadley, Ed Lavernoich and Fabrizi, the City gave preferred developer status to Eric Anderson, not a good move.

    • Nancy Hadley

      Bridgeporteur,
      The designation of Eric Anderson as preferred developer for Downtown North happened before I joined the City administration. Back then the zoning regulations were strangling good development and the Master Plan was way off the market trends. Both the master plan and zoning regs needed a complete overhaul. I did slow Eric Anderson down stating the downtown did not need a sea of vacant structured parking within walking distance of the Intermodal transportation center. So while we focused on changing the land-use policies to provide for a transit-oriented downtown, Eric arranged almost $80 million on mostly private investment and rehabbed City trust, the arcade and 144 Golden Hill. Now Eric is about to start the historic rehab of the Jason and Newfield Buildings. Bridgeport’s downtown is a better place because of Eric’s vision and ability to deliver. We just need about four hundred more housing units with first-floor retail. Quickly!

      • Steven Auerbach

        Nancy Hadley, is there an update about the 86 replacement housing units for Marina Village by the Harboryard? Do you know if this is still moving forward? What about the grandiose plan to build yjtrr luxury high-rise buildings by U.B.?

        • Nancy Hadley

          Steve,
          It is my understanding the BHA is going to go to the February Planning and Zoning Commission to try again to get that HarborYard site plan approved for 80% affordable/20% market rate. They are ‘tweaking’ the site plan so I am told as well as meeting with several interested parties to quell the opposition for the second attempt. No news on when the City is going to select one of the five developers who responded to the RFP to develop the Harbor Yard parking lots.
          The January 13th PZC agenda has the change in the zoning regulations to permit the ferry boat ‘as of right’ to locate on the other side of the harbor.

      • Bridgeporteur

        Eric Anderson was given developer rights for Downtown North, how many years ago? It does not comfort me he is “about to” do anything there.
        After being given preferred developer status on the RFP for Downtown North under Nancy Hadley’s watch, he was allowed to put all those buildings on the back burner and was given preferred developer rights on the Arcade and the City Trust Building. Bad planning with the construction resulted in numerous delays and the commercial spaces are still not rented and this included the burning of Fat Cats Pie Company by Anderson who were supposed to move into the City Trust Building.
        Anderson acted as broker and sold his development rights to Poko and Ginsberg. I don’t think he ended up being the primary developer.

  • Joel Gonzalez

    In 2014 I’m making my move to start my own business and take legal action against one who stole (at least one of their employees did) my idea and took out a patent on it many years ago.
    I’m glad I didn’t tell that S.O.B. my bigger idea for a uniquely different Vertical Blind. I will never bother running a business with a small limited market and heavy competition. Small businesses like restaurants and markets are particularly vulnerable and high-risk types of businesses. A bad location can kill a business fast. When I heard of Ripka’s plan and the location of the business, I said to myself, “Bad move.” I hardly eat out and when I do, I’m shocked by the high prices and smaller portions of food and beverages. Go buy any bag of chips and you’ll see what I mean.

    New products that are cheap to manufacture and not too expensive (1:5 is good) is the way to go.
    Will the product eliminate or lead in competition with other similar products on the shelves, if any? How big is the market? Is it a consumable product (people will need to buy more) as opposed to a one-time purchase? Do you need a warehouse and lots of office space? Can you outsource and have the product delivered straight to stores and customers, sell on your own web store or Amazon? Is there a workforce available and how many people need to be hired? One of the most important aspects to consider is your competition–it’s the only one that always worried me the most, second to capital. Capital doesn’t look like a major concern any longer. Competition can be kept at bay with a patent. In the event I’m granted the patents and I’m sure USPTO will, I have no intention on licensing or selling it for pennies on the dollar when I can make the dollars. This is one major problems in America–the selling of proprietary rights. The State of Connecticut and the City of Bridgeport needs to pay more attention to this problem. There isn’t a place for inventors to go and get help. Some need more help than others and the help must start in our schools to minimize the need for help when and if our students go out to become inventors and entrepreneurs. Bridgeport needs people to demonstrate and be examples of how a business can be conceived and launched by inventors. I’m dedicating my time to doing just that. Politics must take a break as far as I’m concerned–it doesn’t put money in my pocket and hasn’t created jobs. Just ask those who have lost their jobs due to a business failing if you have any doubts about my position.

  • Steven Auerbach

    The closing of Staples in the North End is more of a shock. I must have missed the original article five days ago. The quotes from Timpanelli and Kooris were embarrassing. The closure is a sign of a healthy economic situation? People can buy on-line. AmyMarie Paniccia has the only intelligent comment. After 15 years this is a disappointment and not only residents, but students have patronized this business. Always crowded. Maybe they can subdivide and move to Madison Ave. Stop&Shop. Going to Fairfield or Stratford is ridiculous. If Office Max doesn’t move into this site it will be a huge loss to Bridgeport and there is no way to sugarcoat this. Maybe a Staples Super Store on Madison Ave. The closing of Staples is just a shocker!

  • Bob Walsh

    Have faith, Steve.
    Kooris and Tin-pan alley say this is all good. This is all positive. However, they do not say who in God’s name is going to replace them. Maybe the spillover from Steal Point will settle for less. Oh that’s right, we are still waiting to hear who all of these retailers anxious to move to Steal Point are. Maybe we can get the medical marijuana folk to open up a marijuana superstore in the Staples location.

  • OlofsonD

    While Bridgeport is constantly losing more and more business, our big news is a Bass Pro. Meanwhile a couple miles down the road, Stamford is experiencing a building boom!
    forum.skyscraperpage.com/showthread.php?t=208287

    • Steven Auerbach

      Bridgeport’s misfortune is now and has always been starting a project when the market is on a downturn. Ask Timpanelli who attempted to cash in at the tail end of a building boom with a failed project downtown. Sadly I think his partner was Kuchma. But I digress. The market is on an upswing, we had better get the show on the road asap. Remember when they started building all those duplexes and crappy condominiums on stilts that were ultimately made into low-income housing throughout the City throughout the ’80s? Well it would be nice to see more than one project going on at a time. The city just cannot afford one project. Two years to complete and a two-year wait before another begins. That will be for another administration to deal with.

  • Steven Auerbach

    It’s hard to believe, while individuals are thinking about regurgitating old candidates to run for Mayor, they never mention Tom Bucci who may be out of his prime but let’s remember it was Tom Bucci’s administration that gave downtown two landmark buildings. People’s Savings Bank headquarters as well as the Wright Financial Center currently RBS.Twenty-five years have come and gone. Stamford and Norwalk have seen many building booms. Bridgeport, one can only hope.

  • OlofsonD

    I agree, Steve. I often head to Stamford for work and every week I see a new construction site. What they are doing in their south end is amazing, widening streets, rerouting streets. There are massive 15-story luxury apartment buildings being built directly across the street from lower-end neighborhoods. We can only hope for a brighter future for Bridgeport for so long, after a while and seeing these other cities fly by us, it’s getting to the point where I know it’s a pipe dream.

  • burman

    As a former downtown business owner here are the problems that exist:
    1) little to no foot traffic, it has declined severely since 2008
    2) People’s Bank cafeteria should be closed, it would put hundreds of valuable customers on the street daily (RBS doesn’t have a cafeteria)
    3) development is years behind schedule (Mechanics & Farmers and Bass Pro, Main Street north)
    4) BRBC–it’s useless, plain and simple.
    5) there has been no one in the OPED who knows what they are doing in more than a decade. Either hands are tied or people are way underqualified. I won’t mention names but in my dealings, the OPED is basically know-it-alls who know nothing about small business or how to run one. Plenty of opinions and no answers.
    6) you have businesses that were fly by night i.e. Melt, Ripka’s etc. that open and take vital business away from existing businesses without any increase in downtown traffic. Everyone’s piece of the pie gets cut smaller then these businesses fail in a year or less.

    I don’t understand how businesses like Melt and Ripka’s get free rent for a year and still fail. It sucks when the real businesses have to pay rent while these folks don’t. Hell, Ripka’s was 100% funded by state grants and closed in six months. Tax dollars at work.

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