“The Amazing Spider-Man 2” has not been so amazing for everyone.
Main St. between East Ave. and St. Paul was open to pedestrians for a time today. It looked like a ghost town. There wasn’t a single person sitting at the Liberty Pole. Shops in the area were empty.
The owner of a clothing store at Main and Clinton cursed when I asked him how business has been since filming began. Furious, he said the production offered him $1,000 for the week. He showed me a ledger showing he makes more than double that amount. He makes most of his money the first week of the month, when people get their welfare checks. Many of his customers take the bus, but the buses have been rerouted to Broad St.
“Can you help me?” he asked. “Should I get a lawyer?”
Newal Shoibi owns a minimart next door.
“They treat us like we’re homeless,” Shoibi said, saying the production staff offered him nothing. Shoibi, too, was angry.
A little further down at Metro Market, the owner decked out a back room with a Spider-Man theme. A flat-screen TV played the first Amazing Spider-Man movie. No one was watching. The room was empty. The owner said she’s lost business, but she remains hopeful people will stop in. In the meantime, she hired a man to dress as Spider-Man and hand out ad flyers and pose for pictures for $10 a pop.
Across the street in the Alliance Building, Panini’s was empty. The owner sat at the register looking defeated. He said business has been terrible. He doesn’t know whom to call for help.
Charlie Abiad, who runs a hot dog stand outside the County Office Building, set up outside City Hall this week. The film reneged on an offer to rent his cart for $1,000. He said he doesn’t think he’ll lose money at his temporary location, but he’s worried.
Some businesses, including hotels, are getting a bump. But others, particularly ones that serve low-income bus riders, are getting kicked in the gut.
Speaking of bus riders, they’re lucky the weather has been nice so far. They have to stand on Broad Street for transfers, where there are no shelters or benches. There’s no safe place to cross the street in the middle of the long block, where the buses are lined up. People, including children, are darting in front of parked buses into traffic to make their connection.
This is all happening because the city granted the film crew unprecedented access to Main St. and surrounding streets for 10 days. The production dictates what roads are closed off and gives less than 24 hours notice. Citizens have never been so restricted from roaming freely in downtown Rochester for such a length of time. People have been told they cannot cross the street or exit buildings. It’s still not clear how much money the city charged to shut down its main thoroughfare.
We have discussed the why the film is not likely to provide any lasting economic benefit to Rochester. We have discussed taxpayer support for this production and others. (We’re all subsidizing the $600,000 in local spending the film crew anticipates.) We haven’t really discussed the wisdom of shutting down Main St.
By allowing the movie to commandeer Main St., the city picked winners and losers. Sure, it’s cool. But at what cost?
Links of the Day:
– A beautiful and historic Buffalo church needs millions of dollars in repairs. Its fate is uncertain.
– Xerox still makes printers in Webster. These are way better jobs than in the company’s call centers.
– Xerox and Harris are on the list of highest CEO to worker pay ratio.
– Cell phone thefts are a huge problem, but the cell phone industry isn’t interested in finding solutions. (They make money when your phone is stolen.)