Businesses along the Charlottesville Downtown Mall — the old main street turned into an open-air market — have been reeling under continuous one-two punches centered around Lee Park. From the exceptional hand of Chris Suarez over at the Charlottesville Daily Progress:
Rhodes, who is opposed to the removal of the statues and intends to boycott the city if they are removed, said he thinks the city already is seeing some economic backlash without a seriously coordinated campaign. “It’s inevitable that downtown will suffer,” he said, regardless of whether there is a concerted boycott effort.”
“I’d hate to hurt the merchants, but I can’t think of anything a normal person can do otherwise to affect change.”
With the Downtown Mall subsidized by the City of Charlottesville to the tune of $1 million, the lack of resources for the parking decks and the increase in sidewalk meter fees has put downtown merchants in a bit of a Catch 22. Lack of safety and increased notoriety has driven people away from Charlottesville, and increased revenues to provide public safety such as cameras only increase the cost of doing business through additional government-imposed fees and taxes.
Clearly the boycott is having its impact, exacerbating the total mess Charlottesville City Council meetings have become. All the while, the Lee Statue — which remains tarped since August 2017 — continues to be emblematic of Charlottesville reputation for dysfunction rather than resistance.
Perhaps much of the fault could be placed on Corey Stewart and his popularization of the alt-right in Charlottesville? Yet the Occupy Charlottesville movement in 2009 existed long before the Unite The Right rallies arrived in Lee Park.
What Charlottesville’s citizens have here is a contest between two extremes, both sides who find themselves amplified for lack of an honorable middle willing to crowd them out.
Time will tell whether or not Charlottesville’s citizens — liberals and conservative alike — will find the courage and fortitude to take back their own government. Until then, Charlottesville’s business community will continue to find itself in a pincer movement dictated not by politics, but by dollars and cents.