Thank you all so much (again) for supporting us. There was a nice turnout at City Hall, and we think we made a good impression!
In case you couldn’t attend, here is the speech that Bob (Maile) gave before the City Council:
“I appreciate the members of City Council allowing me to speak. I have been in Madison over 20 years now trying to contribute to this city in various capacities, my most recent being Rembrandt’s Gallery & Wine Bar. My purpose here is to strongly encourage the creation of the special Riverfront 3-way liquor licenses by establishing a Riverfront Development District. Downtown Madison desperately needs to take advantage of the development opportunity that this district provides.
“In the late 1990’s, Markt Lytle, a former mayor and state representative, introduced legislation for the special Riverfront license specifically with downtown Madison in mind. He recognized the potential for downtown development that this offered. Since then, 34 cities in Indiana have taken advantage of this legislation. (I didn’t know some of these cities even had a river!) These cities recognized, as did Lytle, that no matter what a city has to offer as attractions, when visitors come they want to eat, drink, and shop. And the better the quality of restaurants and shops, the more quality people will come, both to spend money and to live here.
“I am constantly hearing about what other projects Madison needs to attract more visitors. Ladies and gentlemen, we have a Historic District here that rivals any city in the country! We just need to let the rest of the world know that we exist and that we have the amenities that they expect when they do come.
“The Riverfront license will in no way diminish the existing 3-way licenses. In fact, it will make them more valuable. As you are aware, the district can only be located a certain number of feet from the river. The city has complete control over the requirements, the number of licenses available, and basically what kind of place gets a license. The existing licenses have none of these restrictions and can locate anywhere in the city.
“To create our Riverfront District, you don’t have to reinvent the wheel. There are 34 other cities that have done the research for their own Riverfront District that you can draw from and enact quickly. We have compiled extensive research on what other cities have done, and I am offering my assistance to the committee. I believe I could give valuable insight and help expedite the process.
“Downtown Madison needs meaningful development now. That why we have so many empty shops on Main Street and why we can’t even hold on to a grocery store. And if something doesn’t happen soon, I will be the next casualty.
“For the most part, people like me from out of town don’t come here to make money. We come here to be a part of this amazingly special place, and we want to be a part of its success. But there aren’t enough people with money visiting or living here yet to sustain it. Rembrandt’s was created to be the kind of place you would want in a Riverfront District – a place that showcases the history, culture, architecture, and character that makes Madison special. Rembrandt’s must be doing something right based on the 500 residents and visitors that signed our petition of support. Here are the names of some of the more well-known people. [hands out a list of some of the petition signers]
“But I can’t do this without some help. I am the only restaurant or bar in the county that can only sell wine, and there simply aren’t enough people living here or visiting here that only want to drink wine. That’s why I can’t open more than three nights a week, and you can’t sustain a business when you’re only open 15 hours a week. I am willing to work for free, but I’m not willing to go broke. This district is the quickest way to kick-start the economy of Downtown Madison and will surely attract future residents and business that will enhance the quality of life of the entire community. Thank you.”
Now we wait!5