Most of the items on the City Plan Commission's agenda today were passed no problem, but one got a decided thumbs-down from the commission: a request for a specific use permit for a bar at 301 S. Carroll Avenue. The reason given: The area's zoned CS Commercial Service. Which isn't why neighbors opposed it.
"I live 200 steps away," said one resident, who said a bar there would just lead to more people "taking a leak" in his front yard. A second gentleman brought up the crime stats in the neighborhood: "Just check the police records," he said, suggesting that the neighborhood's already got plenty of public intoxication to deal with. (Till recently, though, a beer-and-wine drive-thru sat directly next to the vacant building.)
But the building's new owners -- Orlando Orta and Troy Gonzalez -- say, look, better a bright, shiny new bar than a shuttered shack that invites trouble. And the twosome are pros: Both men say they decided to open their own business after losing their jobs at Landry's when the longtime West End eatery closed in January. (Gonzalez is, in fact, now a manager at the Landry's in Vegas, which Landry's confirms.) Orta says they've already spent $25,000 gutting the interior and redoing the outside and back.
"The owners aren't trying to promote homelessness," said Marlene Mar, who repped the owners before the CPC. "They're not out to devalue the area." But the commission wasn't buying what they were pouring and voted no. So, since the place isn't far from my apartment, I figured I'd drive by and see what's what.
Seems the biggest problem is parking -- as in, there's not a lot of it. I called Orta to ask about the situation, and he said he and Gonzalez had already talked to neighboring businesses about using adjacent lots. As for the residents' other concerns, there are half a dozen places in the vicinity where one can buy booze -- not to mention blocks' worth of cigarette shops, service stations and taquerías and nightclubs.
Funny thing: When I pulled in, two guys were sitting in the parking lot of the next-door Diamond Shamrock -- you have to admit, today was a nice brown-paper-bag Thursday. But one man's bladder was full, and since the building and lot were empty, he relieved himself then and there -- in broad daylight.
Maybe Orta and Gonzalez will just got Plan B and open a restaurant or taquería. Though, apparently, any place with a bathroom will do.