“Family” Video: it’s just so wrong

The “Family” Video store being proposed at tonight’s TNT meeting (Huntington Elementary School, Sunnycrest and Forest Hill, 7:00 pm) has been the topic of discussion in the Walkable Eastwood email group. The consensus: it’s a no-go on two fronts.

  • All three proposed designs violate the James Street Overlay District Zoning Standards in many ways.
  • Video stores are unsustainable businesses unless they are selling adult videos – which “Family” Video does.

Not one of over a dozen comments in the email group of over 100 members was in favor of having this business in Eastwood. This community has spent years fighting bad design – and winning – so we’re not about to turn back the clock and allow suburban-style development in our urban community. That would cause all our property values to drop and would be a slap in the face of the James Street business owners who develop, successfully, following the guidelines.

Several commenters noted that selling videos is an outmoded business model and figured that it’s the sale of pornographic videos that keeps these businesses going. The last thing Syracuse needs is to end up in court over the issue of adult videos like Auburn is right now. The Post-Standard quotes Auburn City Manager as saying, “The fact that they advertise it as a family store and then have something that really is degrading for our whole community — I think some changes will have to be made…”

Note: the Adult Use Regulations for the City of Syracuse prohibit Adult Uses within 1000 feet of any residential dwellings, districts, churches or schools.

Common Councilor Kathleen Joy wrote to the email group the following (reprinted with permission):

I met with a representative of the “Family” video Monday. They fully intend on presenting at TNT on 3/22. I told him that I could not personally support this project as proposed because it does not  comply even with the spirit of our design guidelines &  I don’t like the idea of an X rated section (not disputed by him, by the way), they have no contract with the owner and have not vetted this project through any pre-development meeting.
He tells me that if the sense of the neighborhood is that it’s not wanted, then they won’t pursue it.

We were alerted to the problems with “Family” Video by PACNY‘s Mike Stanton, who sent the following, reprinted with permission (bolding mine):

Quote of the day: “Growth for the sake of growth is the ideology of the cancer cell.” Edward Abbey (The Journey Home, 1977).

Here we go again.

1) Family Video, a national video store chain with 550 stores nationwide, says it will build a $1 million store in Eastwood, but only if they can build a suburban style store with the parking lot on the corner and the entrance facing the parking lot rather than the sidewalk. Eastwood has an overlay district intended to promote walkability and pedestrian-friendly design. The video store would be built at the site of the former Steak & Sundae restaurant on James Street, which has been vacant and deteriorating for years. Mike Muraco, a Syracuse native who lives in Miami Beach, Fla., said “It’s a useless piece of property, unless they can bend a little.”

2) The city of Auburn took Family Video to court in 2008 because it rented X-rated adult videos. “The (store name) is a trap for families,” City Manager Mark Palesh said. “My family’s never going to go there again.” The city sought a court order to shut down the store’s sex video trade, saying it violates the city’s 1998 zoning ordinance banning sexually oriented businesses from operating within 500 feet of any area zoned residential. Family Video fought the city’s order in court.

3) A Buffalo News article says municipal officials in Western New York utter the name “Family Video” sarcastically these days. In the Town of Tonawanda, officials thought they nipped a potential problem in the bud when Family Video presented plans for a store in 2005. Not only was the Colvin Boulevard site not zoned for adult uses, town officials were assured that X-rated fare wouldn’t be offered there. And, for a while, it wasn’t. But recent complaints about adult videos in a back room — and Family Video’s alleged refusal to remove them — prompted the town to seek a court injunction barring their rental or sale. “The whole thing was, they misled us,” Councilman John A. Bargnesi Jr. said last week, when he announced the court case had been initiated.

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