Monday, August 25, 2008


Yesterday, the wife and I went to one of my favorite places on the planet: Coney Island.

After gorging on crab strips, buttered corn and hot dogs, I got to thinking about why CI is so damn cool. I like how it's safe enough to hang out, but still dirty and seedy enough to be fun, yet it still retains a hint of its old-time charm (especially with the Cyclone). It's got a beautiful Atlantic Ocean beach, a sideshow, great food, rides new and old, and my personal favorite game: Skee-Ball!

I think the biggest thing that makes CI so cool is simply how different it is. You just have to check out the Mermaid Parade for proof of that. They even sell buttons proclaiming it "Sodom by the Sea." Now all of this got me thinking, of course, about our beloved Stamford.

I'm not going to reopen the "Stamford has no character" argument. However, I will say that although there are a lot of neat things to do here (cricket comes to mind), a lot of things in Stamford are just so darn generic.

Our "waterfront" dining, Crab Shell and Paradise Grill, serve pretty standard fare and are full of gel-haired meatheads. We have 1001 Italian restaurants serving penne a la vodka. Our local Irish pub is a chain! I think Fairfield County in general is the polo shirt capital of the world, and does it get any more generic than a polo shirt? Why is this town so uptight?

Part of the problem is that there's no "alternative" scene here. I think it would be cool to have a neighborhood like Philadelphia's South Street or SoHo in NYC (although even SoHo is getting rapidly generic-ified). I don't necessarily mean S&M orgies (though I'm not judging), but how cool would it be to have a roller rink in town that hosted roller derby matches?? Even New Haven has Toad's Place, a well-known rock/punk/etc. venue. We have...cover bands at the former Jimmy's Seaside.

Also, I'm not a member of the gay demographic, but as far as I know, there's little to no gay/lesbian scene here, and we all know that gays = fun (for everyone). See again: South Street and SoHo/Greenwich Village.

Unfortunately, part of what allows places like those come to be are seediness and low rent, and while we've got some of the former, the latter is an extinct species in these parts. I'd love to see some pioneers carve out a little "district" somewhere in the CTW, but with the South End catching Antares fever and the East Side getting the Glenview Commons cold, there isn't much "cheap" real estate left in town.

Well, at least Bennigan's is gone. Wait...what's that opening underneath Target? A Houlihan's?? NOOOOOOOO!!!!!

I should add that the Avon Theater's Cult Classics series is awesome, not to mention surprisingly well-attended!

Thursday, August 21, 2008

My posts from Mr. Stamford's site

March 8, 2008: Puttin' up the Ritz - wherein JR talks about the start of demolition for the Ritz-Carlton project on Tresser Blvd.

March 27, 2008: Boycott Pitney Bowes! - wherein JR reveals why Stamford has no professional sports teams.

May 14, 2008: R.I.P. Stamford Whole Foods/The South (End) shall rise again! - wherein JR laments our doomed Whole Foods and displays some demolition pictures from the Harbor Point site.

May 23, 2008: The most exclusive neighborhood in Stamford - wherein JR drives through Wallachs Point, a very rich, very private neighborhood, and expects to be accosted by security.

June 26, 2008: More cherry tree nonsense - wherein JR makes fun of the idiots on the Advocate website who complain about the city's plans for Mill River Park.

July 20, 2008: Downtown Stamford is dead - JR's most-commented-upon post, wherein he lists the abandoned and empty lots in downtown Stamford.

July 29, 2008: The City that Hates - wherein JR delves into the horrible world of Topix, the Advocate website's message board.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Are you kidding me, Glenview House?

Glenview House is one of the new "mixed-use" developments currently going up on the East Side at the corner of East Main Street and Glenbrook Road.

The original website for the development had no information on what rents would be for the various apartments, so out of curiosity, I emailed the general info address. Three weeks later I got a response. Here are some highlights:

"At Glenview House, we showcase brand new, modern one, two and three bedroom apartment homes with and without lofts. Our extremely spacious apartments are detailed with 9ft ceilings, in-apartment storage spaces, crown molding, walk-in closets and patios or balconies. Add in granite countertop, kitchen center island with modern appliances and hardwood floors, full size washer and dryers, central heat and A/C to ensure you are getting an apartment you are delighted to call home. You will also have use of our three tier garden courtyard including a seasonal resort style heated swimming pool with sun deck, billiards room, plus a 24 hr state of the art fitness center!

Sounds great, right? Now here's the kicker (emphasis added):
"Our 1 Bedroom apartments range in size from 824 sq. ft. to 1346 sq. ft and start at $2250, 2 bedroom/2 bath range in size from 1174 sq. ft. to 1591 sq. ft. and start at $2800. Finally our 3 bedroom/2 Bath range in square footage from 1364 to 1838 and start at $3350. Pricing differs based upon floor level, private patios, loft apartments and views.

$2250 for 824 square feet??? That's a lot of money for views of an Auto Zone, a Taco Bell and Bev Max! I love the Colombian food at Mi Terruño, but this area is not exactly "luxurious." And I don't mean any offense to our friends on the East Side, but who in that area can afford to pay $2800 for a two-bedroom apartment??

I support improving neighborhoods, but this project and its counterpart, East Side Commons, seem to embody the worst aspects of gentrification. That is, of course, if anybody is actually willing to pay that much to live in an area that still needs work.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Welcome to the "Streets of Stamford"

Welcome all my friends! After entering the blogging world over on Mr. Stamford's site (mad props to Mr. S!), I've started my very own blog where I plan to discuss, complain, and talk about the goings-on in our fair city.

I'm still working on customizing the site, so bear with me. I'll also post links to my previous posts from Mr. Stamford so you can read them again.

Feel free to contact me with any questions, and don't forget to comment away on my posts!

JR scoops the Advocate!

There's an article on the Advocate website about the slowdown in construction that has left several downtown projects unfinished, including City Place. Sound familiar?? I wrote a post about this exact subject over at Mr. Stamford.

Some interesting tidbits from the article:
The Urban Redevelopment Commission has been mired in legal battles with Curley's diner, which it planned to seize. The developer was forced to redesign around the diner when the state Supreme Court ruled the city could not seize it in 2002.

Why did the city go through the Kafkaesque
seizure process, which ultimately failed anyway? Why didn't the developer just offer the owners of Curley's a million bucks for their land?

37 of the apartments will be rented at rates affordable to those who earn 50 percent or less of Stamford's median income, or $58,900 for a family of four. That translates to rents of about $1,636 per month.

WOW - only $1636 a month? What a steal! I'm joking of course. My wife and I make just under $100K a year and we would be hard-pressed to afford that rent!

Now if you do the math, $1636 x 12 months = $19632, or about a THIRD of the income for a family making $58,900 - and that's the TOP income limit to qualify. How are people making so little going to be able to afford that rent and still put food on the table, clothes on their kids' backs, etc.?

On a side rant, I don't believe that people should get endless handouts or endless government help, but there has to be a better solution to help the working poor to provide for their families and improve their lives and the lives of their children. It also pisses me off when these developers make a "swap" (like Antares wants to do) so that the affordable units don't have to sully their pretty little rich bubble.

Anyway, why does it seem like everybody is only building "luxury" these days? Whatever happened to building a nice average apartment building?