Preserving Printers Alley

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I'll admit, when I first heard about people fighting with developers over the developers' desire to put a boutique hotel back into a building that used to be a hotel in Printers Alley, I thought it was stupid. Returning a hotel to a hotel sounds like a great idea. Imagine a dramatic, main entrance on 4th Avenue, right downtown near so many of our great tourist attractions and then, you slip around back—or maybe even through some pseudo-secret special hotel door, like we're all still speak-easy patrons during Prohibition and you're in the Brass Stables or listening to live music or whatever. What a great idea to capitalize on the draw of Printers Alley.

I just never considered — simply couldn't comprehend — that these folks who are planning to put up a hotel would be thinking of closing the businesses that make a hotel in that spot a cool option. It's like putting up a grand hotel right near a theme park so that you can make tons of money from theme-park visitors staying in your hotel and then closing the theme park. And no one would be so stupid and short-sighted in this city again, would they?

But Bobby Allyn over at WPLN has the skinny:

Several businesses along Printer’s Alley are being kicked out to make way for a boutique hotel. One resident’s attempt to organize the downtown community against the redevelopment has picked up momentum.

The new owners, including developer Bill Barkley and financial backers Alex Marks and Billy Frist, plan to renovate the old building but displace the tenants, which include Lonnie’s Western Room, Fiddle and Steel Guitar Bar and others.

This just goes to show you that you can have unlimited cents and limited sense. It also goes to show you that today's crop of rich people is boring as fuck. Back in the old days, rich people went to places like Printers Alley because they got a thrill from mixing with the decadent poors. Nowadays, they want to build these urban playgrounds with names that hearken back to times when their naughtiness crossed class boundaries without actually having to cross class boundaries. They want their friends to be able to stay on Printers Row without risking the chance of running into the likes of us.

They're fixing to make the whole downtown too classy for the kinds of people whose hard work and tourist dollars helped make it what it is today.

I hope Kim Brooks and the outraged people of Facebook are able to figure out how to stop this, or at least redirect the developers into a hotel that works for them and preserves the character and businesses of Printers Alley.

But more than that, I hope that glorious Printers Alley stripper Heaven Lee comes out of retirement, climbs naked onto her horse one last time and rides by the developer's homes, two middle fingers a-blazing. That would be a fitting protest.

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