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  1. #1
    Senior Member Templeton's Avatar
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    Default Subway (sandwiches) on Baltimore Avenue

    Apparently there is talk of opening a Subway on the 4500 Block of Baltimore. I didn't know, but the issue is quite contentious. I don't like subway, but don't really object to their presence. The storefront in question has been empty for years, and I thought it could bring more foot traffic to the other stores. But many neighbors are objecting. Does anyone know the anti side?

  2. #2
    Senior Member annie's Avatar
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    Oh! I have been reading Sharon Zukin's Naked City: The Death and Life of Authentic Urban Places and have been looking for an excuse to discuss it on here.

    One of Zukin's arguments could basically describe what might be happening here. The artistic class and middle-class are attracted to "authentic" urban (Zukin purposefully defines "authentic" somewhat vaguely) places and bring with them the buying power and consumer culture that results in an expansion of retailers to beyond the basic subsistence commercialism to local coffee shops, gourmet cafes, boutiques etc. This perpetuates until landlords are able to raise the rents such that only national chains are able to afford them. The middle-class literally "consume" the urban authenticity that attracted them to the neighborhood in the first place. I realize as I'm writing this that this sounds like a basic cry of gentrification but I swear the way Zukin discusses it it's more nuanced and interesting that that. Her examples are all NYC-based (though she does reference NoLibs a couple times) and sound accurate based on my limited experience of New York.

    Anyway, 4533 Baltimore Avenue was for a long time an African grocer until the tenant got into a dispute with the landlords who own several other properties in the area. Since the African grocer left, the property was briefly rented to a halal butcher and Pickles and Pies neither of which lasted very long. On here, Milan Marvelous confirmed that the landlord was asking over $2,000/month in rent for an admittedly small space. Enter Subway.

    Part of the opposition is concerned that if national chains get a foothold, Baltimore Avenue may lose the local authenticity and character that attracted them to the area in the first place or convinced them to stay. Some are just opposed to national chains in general. Others don't like that the franchisees are based in Maryland and not local to the area.

    Because Subway is having to apply to Zoning for a takeout certificate, there was some initial confusion that the store would be takeout only, a sure recipe for traffic congestion and headaches. Actually, the store has to have a takeout permit to operate but will have seating.

    Many of the nearest neighbors, the ones living on the east side of 46th Street, are opposed because they have a private back alley with an entrance on Cedar Avenue and are concerned that the Subway customers/suppliers will park there blocking it and/or use the alley for a high-speed shortcut endangering the neighborhood children that play there.

    As far as Zoning for a takeout certificate, none of these seem to match up with a reason to deny the certificate. I'm just getting to Zukin's conclusion now so I don't know if she has any better ideas or not.
    Last edited by annie; 12-23-2011 at 04:47 PM.

  3. #3
    Dismember lewblum's Avatar
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    The takeout certificate is just a way for communities to control the retail mix of their commercial districts. IMO, such a control is outside of the realm of the powers of zoning. I find it similar to the overlay up in Germantown that prohibits dollar stores and nail salons. Unfortunately, I believe this control was carried over to the new zoning code.

    I do not eat at Subway. In fact, I find it ridiculous that one would even eat here when Fiesta Pizza on the same block makes a bangin' grinder. Not to mention Fu Wah on 47th St.
    But to deny them based on their "authenticity" flies in the face of established private property rights in this country.

  4. #4
    Senior Member loveisnoise's Avatar
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    It is absolutely ridiculous that a subway should open!!! We must stand and fight this flagrant corporate abuse that rapes our neighborhoods just to send more money to fatcats while we have to look at all of the wrappers and potato chip bags on the ground that do nothing more than incite gun violence. If we'd just keep these spaces open long enough, surely a byob specializing in organic exotic zebra meat would come in, which would then lay the foundation for a customized apple store with a motivation towards giving the community free stuff to visit the starbucks built within the one of a kind genius bar!

  5. #5
    Administrator Malloy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by loveisnoise View Post
    It is absolutely ridiculous that a subway should open!!! We must stand and fight this flagrant corporate abuse that rapes our neighborhoods just to send more money to fatcats while we have to look at all of the wrappers and potato chip bags on the ground that do nothing more than incite gun violence. If we'd just keep these spaces open long enough, surely a byob specializing in organic exotic zebra meat would come in, which would then lay the foundation for a customized apple store with a motivation towards giving the community free stuff to visit the starbucks built within the one of a kind genius bar!
    This.

    Plus, lets get real. I bet a good % of the people fighting this chain and claiming all this 'authentic' BS moved to the area well after Penntrification happened. Suburbanites must realize it takes more than 10 years to become 'authentic'
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    Quote Originally Posted by annie View Post
    Oh! I have been reading Sharon Zukin's Naked City: The Death and Life of Authentic Urban Places and have been looking for an excuse to discuss it on here.

    One of Zukin's arguments could basically describe what might be happening here. The artistic class and middle-class are attracted to "authentic" urban (Zukin purposefully defines "authentic" somewhat vaguely) places and bring with them the buying power and consumer culture that results in an expansion of retailers to beyond the basic subsistence commercialism to local coffee shops, gourmet cafes, boutiques etc. This perpetuates until landlords are able to raise the rents such that only national chains are able to afford them. The middle-class literally "consume" the urban authenticity that attracted them to the neighborhood in the first place. I realize as I'm writing this that this sounds like a basic cry of gentrification but I swear the way Zukin discusses it it's more nuanced and interesting that that. Her examples are all NYC-based (though she does reference NoLibs a couple times) and sound accurate based on my limited experience of New York.

    Anyway, 4533 Baltimore Avenue was for a long time an African grocer until the tenant got into a dispute with the landlords who own several other properties in the area. Since the African grocer left, the property was briefly rented to a halal butcher and Pickles and Pies neither of which lasted very long. On here, Milan Marvelous confirmed that the landlord was asking over $2,000/month in rent for an admittedly small space. Enter Subway.

    Part of the opposition is concerned that if national chains get a foothold, Baltimore Avenue may lose the local authenticity and character that attracted them to the area in the first place or convinced them to stay. Some are just opposed to national chains in general. Others don't like that the franchisees are based in Maryland and not local to the area.

    Because Subway is having to apply to Zoning for a takeout certificate, there was some initial confusion that the store would be takeout only, a sure recipe for traffic congestion and headaches. Actually, the store has to have a takeout permit to operate but will have seating.

    Many of the nearest neighbors, the ones living on the east side of 46th Street, are opposed because they have a private back alley with an entrance on Cedar Avenue and are concerned that the Subway customers/suppliers will park there blocking it and/or use the alley for a high-speed shortcut endangering the neighborhood children that play there.

    As far as Zoning for a takeout certificate, none of these seem to match up with a reason to deny the certificate. I'm just getting to Zukin's conclusion now so I don't know if she has any better ideas or not.

    funny; i just read an article from this perspective, appearing in Center City's Weekly Press. Check it out:

    Baltimore Avenue’s Pandora’s Box

    offered up without comment. although i do believe that small, local business is good business in the long term. good for everyone in the community, and sustainable. but rarely do societies or even individuals act on long term good, especially if short term good leads to opposite action.

    we were talking about this even decades back, with movies such as It's a Wonderful Life...
    "The only difference between the Republican and Democratic parties is the velocities with which their knees hit the floor when corporations knock on their door. That's the only difference."
    - Ralph Nader

  7. #7
    Garager OKT3's Avatar
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    Agree with above. Not every new business has to be crunchy and/or twee. Subway isn't going to kill Balto Ave. The guy in Aggie's link shouldn't be "frightened" that Domino's will take over Fiesta. "Fester" was there 25yrs ago when I was a student. It's not going anywhere.

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    Senior Member loveisnoise's Avatar
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    What a ridiculous op-ed.

    A local indie business would be 'sustainable'? Gee, what do you call, ummmmm, Pickles and Pies?! Guess that wasn't quite 'sustainable-and it definitely employed less people than a subway-at minimum wage like any other restaurant. This writer is completely clueless about how the real world works, and is just another in a sloth of vocal uppities that want every niche business in the world around them, when the stark reality is that's not what 95% of reality wants. There's nothing wrong with Subway, and it is an affordable healthier option that a co-op vegetable and 'free trade' coffee outlet where I can smugly pay triple for produce and coffee while not realizing the idiocy behind both actions.
    Quote Originally Posted by phillyaggie View Post
    funny; i just read an article from this perspective, appearing in Center City's Weekly Press. Check it out:

    Baltimore Avenue’s Pandora’s Box

    offered up without comment. although i do believe that small, local business is good business in the long term. good for everyone in the community, and sustainable. but rarely do societies or even individuals act on long term good, especially if short term good leads to opposite action.

    we were talking about this even decades back, with movies such as It's a Wonderful Life...

  9. #9
    Senior Member annie's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by lewblum View Post
    But to deny them based on their "authenticity" flies in the face of established private property rights in this country.
    Agreed. I finally finished the book's conclusion and she only gets to any policy suggestion in the last two paragraphs and it's, "Oh, the state government should get involved making low-income apts. and mom-and-pop stores a requirement for new development." I found it lame but really what else could she suggest?

    But I do think the book points to why some people are so up in arms about it right or wrong. Especially since people don't realized that some of their most cherished businesses own their property or rent from a long-time local landlord who "gets" Baltimore Avenue. Off the top of my head, Green Line, Bindlestiff Books, Baltimore Pet Shoppe, Gojjo, Fuh Wah, Dahlak, Vietnam, Vientiane, Gold Standard, Elena's, Mariposa, A-Space and VIX aren't going anywhere for at least a generation, barring bad business. If they're concerned for the rest, they should be saving up to buy property on Baltimore Avenue themselves.

  10. #10

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    I like Subway. I like Fu Wah. I liked People's Market. I like Milk and Honey.

    I don't want to live near Subway. I do want to live near Fu Wah or People's Market or Milk and Honey. If Baltimore Avenue had several chain stores I likely wouldn't have moved here in the 90's, because (like others of my class) I sought authenticity among other things.

    I think it's vital for local communities to have their own endemic built environment (retail and otherwise) so that residents will care about where they live. If all of our communities are identical or interchangeable than people's motivation to work and fight for positive change is diminished - why invest or improve when you can move to the exact same place down the road.

    I think the rents that landlords charge are crazy. I don't understand how it makes sense for landlords to keep retail spaces empty while they wait for big leases rather than renting at lower prices now. I think the rent at 4533 is INSANE. I think it's short sighted.

    I don't think it's unreasonable to hope for a locally owned business to make a go of it at that location, especially if the landlord would value some aspect of community life other than income.

    This has been an episode of "What Milan Thinks", thank you for tuning in and...

    MERRY CHRISTMAS EVERYONE!!!

  11. #11
    poor grad student MariusPontmercy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Milan Marvelous View Post
    I like Subway. I like Fu Wah. I liked People's Market. I like Milk and Honey.

    I don't want to live near Subway. I do want to live near Fu Wah or People's Market or Milk and Honey. If Baltimore Avenue had several chain stores I likely wouldn't have moved here in the 90's, because (like others of my class) I sought authenticity among other things.

    I think it's vital for local communities to have their own endemic built environment (retail and otherwise) so that residents will care about where they live. If all of our communities are identical or interchangeable than people's motivation to work and fight for positive change is diminished - why invest or improve when you can move to the exact same place down the road.

    I think the rents that landlords charge are crazy. I don't understand how it makes sense for landlords to keep retail spaces empty while they wait for big leases rather than renting at lower prices now. I think the rent at 4533 is INSANE. I think it's short sighted.

    I don't think it's unreasonable to hope for a locally owned business to make a go of it at that location, especially if the landlord would value some aspect of community life other than income.

    This has been an episode of "What Milan Thinks", thank you for tuning in and...

    MERRY CHRISTMAS EVERYONE!!!
    Sorry to burst your bubble, but chains make up a big percentage of the businesses in the city, and contribute a lot of money in business taxes. Not every business can be a mom and pop operation, it's just not realistic to expect that.
    "imagination and memory are but one thing, which for diverse considerations hath diverse names" - Thomas Hobbes

  12. #12
    I LOOK LIKE THIS thoth's Avatar
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    I don't really care about their right to be there or if its going to ruin the neighborhood or whatever, I just wish something would go in that would actually be useful. I've never understood the point of Subway franchises in Philadelphia; to me it's like building a Pizza Hut in Naples. Now instead of useless Pickles and Pies they'll be a hut that serves rubbery, cruddy "subs" that I can already get similar and better versions of from a dozen places on Baltimore. How about a decent bar that serves something besides african food? Dock Street's pretty lonely. How about a place that does a good brunch? Ceder Park doesn't cut it. These aren't "apple store" level desires, these are things you will find brilliantly executed on every other successful commercial strip in the city, except baltimore. Subway? Might as well just open another Ethiopian restaurant on that block while you're at it.

    FTR, I love african restaurants, I love hanging out at Dahlek, I love Elena's Soul and some of their menu items are pretty good. But there's still a tinge of mediocrity to a lot of these joints, and a lot of absurdly priced food and beer. $5 Yards and an $8 fish sandwich made outta sysco food at Elena's? The yuppie places people out here decry wouldn't even charge that much. Dahlek has no draft beers. I could ramble on nitpicking other places too, but it's not like I hate any of thm, there's just a lotta room for growth and competition in a neighborhood with a staggeringly vital residential side.

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    Administrator Malloy's Avatar
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    I cant think of many restaurants that are more 'sustainable' than a Subway - haha.

    Quote Originally Posted by loveisnoise View Post
    What a ridiculous op-ed.

    A local indie business would be 'sustainable'? Gee, what do you call, ummmmm, Pickles and Pies?! Guess that wasn't quite 'sustainable-and it definitely employed less people than a subway-at minimum wage like any other restaurant. This writer is completely clueless about how the real world works, and is just another in a sloth of vocal uppities that want every niche business in the world around them, when the stark reality is that's not what 95% of reality wants. There's nothing wrong with Subway, and it is an affordable healthier option that a co-op vegetable and 'free trade' coffee outlet where I can smugly pay triple for produce and coffee while not realizing the idiocy behind both actions.
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    Senior Member loveisnoise's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Malloy View Post
    I cant think of many restaurants that are more 'sustainable' than a Subway - haha.
    True- but the whole issue is nutty from the get go. That op Ed is almost 100% inaccurate. Opinion doesn't grant the right to make stuff up to better an illusionary argument.

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    Senior Member annie's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by thoth View Post
    I could ramble on nitpicking other places too, but it's not like I hate any of thm, there's just a lotta room for growth and competition in a neighborhood with a staggeringly vital residential side.
    How about an ice cream shop? Philly Flavors is looking at opening a location at the old temporary PFCU building at 4600 Baltimore/Cedar but haven't yet waded into the zoning issues (they'd need a takeout certificate same as Subway). The women that live the house closest to the building have succesfully opposed Rita's and other food businesses from moving in there in addition to blocking a tattoo parlor by a respected artist across Baltimore. They claim that their 4600 block of Cedar is entirely residential even though the zoned commercial building technically has a Cedar address rather than Baltimore. A way to show support would be to email contact@cedarparkneighbors.org saying so with your name and address with "Philly Flavors" in the subject line.

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    Quote Originally Posted by loveisnoise View Post
    True- but the whole issue is nutty from the get go. That op Ed is almost 100% inaccurate. Opinion doesn't grant the right to make stuff up to better an illusionary argument.
    Not to mention that the "faceless corporation" has a franchise owner who is invested in the store.

  17. #17
    Senior Member loveisnoise's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by BarryG View Post
    Not to mention that the "faceless corporation" has a franchise owner who is invested in the store.
    EXACTLY.

    Even if it were a corp rather than a franchise? Gather 'round kids, and let me tell y'all a story.

    Many, many years ago this evil corporation called Starbucks wanted to move at the corner of 4th and South. Neighbors were appalled. Businesses were ready to light torches. The rise of the machine must be fought at any cost!!! I became part of the naysayers, certain that such a company would destroy what was then a street that was getting back to its 'indy roots' blah blah blah.

    Well, everyone was wrong. When Starbucks opened, there were 3 coffee shops within its vicinity. Today? There's 13. Furthermore, the friendliest and absolutely the best employees that put money back in the community are Starbucks employees. I've gone into the same 3 coffee shops for the past 15 years. If I go into A? I don't even know who will be owning it everytime I turn around... I think it has gone through its 4th owners, with equally drastic changes in food and drink tastes. Coffee shop B? If you don't order something correctly, there's usually a hipsterish stare of confusion or being stoned, and after all these years they don't seem to realize that the owner makes concentrated iced tea for them to water down. Every single time I get an iced tea? I buy a bottle of water and have to remix it to a 1:4 ratio. More bang for the buck, I reckon.

    Meanwhile, every time I go into Starbucks? "Hey loveisnoise, how's it going? Venti Iced tea? How's the cats? How are you today? I've got to come in to your place because I really want to talk to you about buying this or that". And a lot of them do patronize my business, and I know for a fact that many make well above minimum wage.

    Such is the way of Subway. This is not a faceless corporation that is sucking the life force from a neighborhood. It isn't Walmart. This type of product, whether you like it or hate it, factually produces traffic and an increase for other existing businesses. It also provides far more jobs than any indie store. While an indie joint would only have 3 or 4 workers, a Subway must be staffed with at least 15-20 to meet corporate requirements.

    So sayeth the lordy have mercy. Happy Kwanzaa everybody!

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    Quote Originally Posted by loveisnoise View Post
    EXACTLY.

    Even if it were a corp rather than a franchise? Gather 'round kids, and let me tell y'all a story.

    Many, many years ago this evil corporation called Starbucks wanted to move at the corner of 4th and South. Neighbors were appalled. Businesses were ready to light torches. The rise of the machine must be fought at any cost!!! I became part of the naysayers, certain that such a company would destroy what was then a street that was getting back to its 'indy roots' blah blah blah.

    Well, everyone was wrong. When Starbucks opened, there were 3 coffee shops within its vicinity. Today? There's 13. Furthermore, the friendliest and absolutely the best employees that put money back in the community are Starbucks employees. I've gone into the same 3 coffee shops for the past 15 years. If I go into A? I don't even know who will be owning it everytime I turn around... I think it has gone through its 4th owners, with equally drastic changes in food and drink tastes. Coffee shop B? If you don't order something correctly, there's usually a hipsterish stare of confusion or being stoned, and after all these years they don't seem to realize that the owner makes concentrated iced tea for them to water down. Every single time I get an iced tea? I buy a bottle of water and have to remix it to a 1:4 ratio. More bang for the buck, I reckon.

    Meanwhile, every time I go into Starbucks? "Hey loveisnoise, how's it going? Venti Iced tea? How's the cats? How are you today? I've got to come in to your place because I really want to talk to you about buying this or that". And a lot of them do patronize my business, and I know for a fact that many make well above minimum wage.

    Such is the way of Subway. This is not a faceless corporation that is sucking the life force from a neighborhood. It isn't Walmart. This type of product, whether you like it or hate it, factually produces traffic and an increase for other existing businesses. It also provides far more jobs than any indie store. While an indie joint would only have 3 or 4 workers, a Subway must be staffed with at least 15-20 to meet corporate requirements.

    So sayeth the lordy have mercy. Happy Kwanzaa everybody!
    Yeah, it's well known that Starbucks has the effect of increasing the number of competing indie shops in a neighborhood, not killing them off.

  19. #19
    Administrator Malloy's Avatar
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    Dude, Starbucks is much closer to 'indy' than Subway in look and feel.

    A few weeks ago I visited the famous Nürburgring circuit in Germany. We were with one of our German partners who is quite UN-american and direct. After some fun laps in our rental car we decided we needed food. We went to the visitor's center to buy some swag and there was 1 food option, Subway. None of us were thrilled, but it was good enough to hold us over. Our friend promptly says, "I will pass" we ask why and he replies, "this is the lowest form of food imaginable - I refuse to eat such rubbish" Ha!
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    poor grad student MariusPontmercy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Malloy View Post
    Dude, Starbucks is much closer to 'indy' than Subway in look and feel.

    A few weeks ago I visited the famous Nürburgring circuit in Germany. We were with one of our German partners who is quite UN-american and direct. After some fun laps in our rental car we decided we needed food. We went to the visitor's center to buy some swag and there was 1 food option, Subway. None of us were thrilled, but it was good enough to hold us over. Our friend promptly says, "I will pass" we ask why and he replies, "this is the lowest form of food imaginable - I refuse to eat such rubbish" Ha!
    You can buy stock in Starbucks. To me it's about as "indie" as Apple.

    Don't get me wrong, I hate both Starbucks and Apple, and won't buy either of their products (I drink Starbucks coffee but that's only because the Barnes & Noble I work at serves it) but that doesn't mean I don't think they can contribute something to the city, because they certainly do.
    "imagination and memory are but one thing, which for diverse considerations hath diverse names" - Thomas Hobbes

 

 

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