No retraction here...

Posted by Black Phillip

It looks like my opinions over the downtown wine shop will stand as is...

Questions raised over wine store - US&J

Important quotes for the skimmers out there:

“I have no desire to help bring people to this town any more,” Martin said. “I think the mayor made the biggest tactical error ever by screwing with me. I will never, ever, lift a finger for the city again, that’s my bottom line.”


Bittner said her business will be different from the one Beautiful Visions proposed in several regards. Theirs was a cooperative and hers is to be controlled solely by The Winery At Marjim Manor. Theirs envisioned making shelf space available to all Trail wineries to display as little or as much product as they wanted. Hers will invite Trail wineries to showcase one or two products a month based on themes. Both incorporated local, packaged product displays and a local tourism-promotion component, but Bittner said she intends to create event and education centers as well.

And the Mayor seems to be guilty of trying to get something, ANYTHING into canal street at any cost.

So what's the end result?

  • Pissed off a well respected local busnessman and property owner downtown who was known for their charitable work, to the point that they have pulled back from the City and the County, and might just move somewhere else.
  • Allowed Margo Bitner to take the idea and distort it to the point that the winery will be all about her, and in order to make it seem like she's playing nice she's allowing one winery a month to sell one or two wines.

Good job!

I just hope Martin reconsideres his decision to pull out of the area. He just got screwed over by a greedy busnesswoman, and the mayor was just too willing to turn around and give full support for someone else with the same project.



Anonymous said...

Maybe there's a chance for things to still play out differently. One can hope.

I was looking forward to an all out one-stop location for all Niagara Wine Loop wines. It would have been a big draw to taste along the way, get some cards noting what you liked and then stop here at the end to purchase your favorites knowing they would be here. Then maybe stop DT for a bite to eat. Nothing is worse than being at the first stop or two debating a purchase with many stops to go and a limited purchasing budget.

If this is now going to play out over a year, there should be no reason to decide on an operator immediately. Have a bid process for the lcoation and business type. Then choose the best one.

Bitner's idea seems to sell the location short. A neutral 3rd party owner overseeing space for all wineries would be something great and a bigger draw.

Hopefully Martin will stay after the emotions settle. He keeps some of the best buildings on the street. Like the "YMCA" debate, hopefully all those involved in this one could find a way to step back and institute a better laid out and fair process. Lots of "misunderstandings" appear to have permeate dthe whole process up to this point.

Rocketboy said...

I actually hope he continues on with his wine store. I think that a "all brands" store would be a much better draw than a "my brand, and a few others" that Bitner wants.

I still say, you get a ColdStone Creamery (or really, any other Ice Cream place... Lake Effect guys, are you interested in your own retail store?) on Canal Street, you'll start seeing foot traffic, which will be a better draw for a storefront to move in.

Anonymous said...

As for the foot traffic: Canal st. (Richmond Ave) suffers from the same discontinuity that most of DT does. There are only really 2 store fronts along this stretch. This would anchor one end and I agree it would be a unique draw. If done right, maybe the best possible draw. Just the thing that is needed for the limited frotnage space opportunity that currently exists along the street. Something special will also thus be needed at the other end.

The old Harrison buidling in the middle of the block has no permeable store frontage. The windows are raised above street level and most likely can not be alterred due to preservation grant use in the project (though I could eb wrong). So it is probably commercially best as a restuarant of some sort. Regardless, the lack of trasparency will offer little draw down the street to the last building. A 250ft walk of "nothing". I feel this building would have its best use as residential due to un-business friendly facade.

Long term there needs to be infill along the block, especially where the concrete park is with the gazebo. As nice as it is it will rarely be used due to the lack of density around it. The Gazebo can be moved elsewhere. A 3 story mixed use building similar to the IS lofts in Buffalo (The Washington St Facade: http://maps.google.com/maps?cbp=12,72.85,,0,-14.67&cbll=42.89115,-78.870239&layer=c&ie=UTF8&ll=42.89115,-78.870239&spn=0,359.991556&t=h&z=17&panoid=GkUCQwddBQxYKgCu2g_afQ) would work great here. More store frontage to continually draw pedestrian interest (foot traffic) down the entire block and residents adding continual life to the block.

The preservation of what was left on this block was a good move. The rest of the block needs to be added down the line to reach "foot traffic" potential.

As a 2nd topic, and maybe more important:
Lockport needs to all-out market and establish itself as the epicenter of the Niagara Wine Trail before somewhere else does. This business, if fully inclusive to all the wineries, would do that.

Anonymous said...

Does anyone know how Bitner got her hands on the property? Supposedly another prominent Lockport resident was going to buy the building but things changed and suddenly Bitner was getting it.

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