Buzz

Downtown business owners make a plead for help

When we last checked in with Amelia Core Jenkins, proprietor of a downtown bed-and-breakfast, she was in a tussle with the Convention and Visitors Bureau over that agency's decision to remove her inn from bureau publications that recommend lodging to tourists. There were too many street people near her establishment, the CVB told her in early 2000, oddly ignoring the fact that there are homeless people near every business downtown.

But Amelia's Place, A Downtown Bed & Breakfast, seemed unsafe, the CVB said. We mustn't frighten the tourists.

It turns out that the bureau was right, but for the wrong reason. Last Saturday, Jenkins, who has never had any problem with street people, fell victim to another common downtown problem--traffic. A car traveling the wrong way on St. Paul Street collided with another car, sending it through a brick wall and into the foyer of the converted warehouse that is home to her inn.

Welcome to downtown Dallas, a great place to do business. Just watch where you step--those homeless people tend to pee everywhere--and drive.

"Honey, I can tell you, it's been awful since I've opened," Jenkins says of her luck so far as an urban entrepreneur. (To add to her troubles, a computer virus ate her reservation system, and a problem with her Web page made it hard for potential customers to find her site on the Internet.)

Jenkins complains that poor signage makes it easy for drivers to become confused on Dallas' grid of one-way streets, a fact that anyone who, like Buzz, drives downtown daily can verify. She thinks somebody--the city, for instance--should do something to make downtown a safer place to drive. Of course, when the CVB de-listed her inn, she also naively said that she thought dealing with the homeless population was a city problem, not hers.

Call her a dreamer. Call her crazy. Call her a cab to Fort Worth, a city that knows how to create an active downtown that isn't a cross between demolition derby and open-air urinal.

Still, on the phone with Buzz, Jenkins seemed upbeat. How can things get any worse?, she started to say, then stopped herself, knowing that things can always get worse.

Obviously, business owners like Jenkins could use a little service from the city to make a go of downtown, but since her name is not Hicks, Hunt or Perot, how is she to get City Hall's attention? Buzz has a thought: Change the name of her inn. How does Amelia's 2012 Olympics Bed & Breakfastsound?

--Compiled by Patrick Williams

 
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