Sunday, October 22, 2006

Really Strange...

I can't verify that this is true but, I just read an editorial on The Daily Times' Web site written by an L. Richard Lundy Jr.
Edit: Per my grandmother, he is my (step)grandfather's son.
Cycle of retail growth keeps shifting

When Route 50 was built through the downtown area (circa 1960), it was at the urging of local merchants hoping to siphon some retail sales off the beachbound traffic annually. Prior to Route 50, beachgoers came into town and threaded their way east via Main Street to Old Ocean City Road, right past the doorsteps of the downtown merchants. That golden opportunity wasn't about to be lost to a bypass around town.

Failing to realize their dreams after the road was built, some merchants, including Benjamin's and Hess Apparel, opened satellite stores in Ocean City, and after an addition was built, to the Salisbury Mall as well, still hoping to snag the coat tails of a market that was now speeding past their doorsteps. All of this ultimately failed in the face of larger retailers at both venues.

The demise of the Salisbury Mall came about when it became obvious that an extension of the Salisbury bypass from Route 13 north over to Route 50 west was necessary to relieve the annual downtown congestion. It is no coincidence that The Centre at Salisbury is situated such as it is, at the juncture of two major highways -- enjoying on the one hand, local business from Route 13, and hopefully beach traffic from the bypass on the other. The Centre was built at this location with that vision in mind.

If the mindset of "It's seen its day, why don't we tear it down and build something else" is applied to the Salisbury Mall, then in my opinion, apply it to the Downtown Plaza as well. Reportedly the Boulevard Theatre is facing the wrecking ball, and the Plaza Gateway has only recently been sold after a lengthy vacancy. Too much time and money has been diddled away on committees and studies in an attempt to revitalize this area. It's time for the wrecking ball to go to the river.

If there is fault in all of this, it is our own. In our incessant search for newer, better and "whatever is new and different," we have caused to be laid to waste much valuable property and material.

Certainly, anything that is currently marketed at The Centre could have also been sold at Civic Avenue, or downtown as well, with some renovation to both, of course.

The Salisbury Mall was barely 20 years old when it was upstaged by the venues on Route 13 north. In just a couple of years, The Centre will celebrate its 20th anniversary. In all of that time, I can't recall having seen it without a vacancy or two. Where and when, I wonder, will some outside developer perceive a need and another mall spring up out of our rapidly disappearing fertile fields?

And in 2015 or 2020, after having been rendered useless by time and the fickle mindset of those individuals that are "Born to Shop," will The Centre be facing the same demise as the Boulevard Theatre, to make way for another wave of apartment buildings?

And around and around it goes.

L. Richard Lundy Jr.


*If I am correct, L. Richard Lundy Jr. is the son (or grandson?) of my grandfather (my mother's stepfather). Not only did he basically outline the scope of my film, but he also incorporated the idea of the circular nature of the fickle consumer, an idea I have been toying with for a while.

If this turns out to be true, perhaps this could be a sign?


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