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“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.

Main and Clinton was dead on Thursday around 1:30 p.m.

Main and Clinton was dead on Thursday around 1:30 p.m.

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.

Panini's was empty.

Panini’s was empty.

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.

On State Street and in First Federal Plaza, the story is the same.

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.)

25 Responses to Not So Amazing

  1. May 2, 2013 at 7:38 pm Bruce Smith responds:

    What a waste of money.They don’t care if businesses lose a lot of theirs.

  2. May 2, 2013 at 8:40 pm walter liss responds:

    Check out Rochester’s own David Cay Johnston’s latest book, “The Fine Print..”. As I recall, he devotes a chapter to this issue of tax breaks to Hollywood. Good reading!

  3. May 2, 2013 at 9:16 pm Mittens responds:

    I rode the bus yesterday. Broad street is a MESS. The sidewalks are barely wide enough to hold the massive amounts of people boarding and exiting the buses. The buses don’t have enough room to line up properly, so many of them are parked in the middle of the street and stretch as far as the middle of the intersection of Broad and Exchange.

  4. That’s pretty sad. People buying clothing immediately after they get welfare checks, when instead they should be focused on buying food and paying rent.

    • May 3, 2013 at 7:39 am JoeyFlowers responds:

      You’re so right, jimmycombs! People on welfare don’t deserve to buy clothing! Common sense dictates that they ought to just be buying potatoes so that they’ll have both food and a nice sack to wear. The person selling them the potatoes should, of course, write “WELFARE RECIPIENT” on the sacks in permanent marker, just to make it a little easier for those of us who have earned the right to buy clothing to identify and shun those greedy clothing-wanters. “THOSE people want to buy clothing!?! The nerve!”

  5. May 2, 2013 at 10:36 pm Mark OB responds:

    There is a safe place in the middle of Broad St that is actually manned by police officers. The problem is many choose to cross where they feel.

  6. May 2, 2013 at 10:37 pm Louis T. Amico responds:

    This is another fine example of the amateurish leadership of our Mayor and City Council. Filming a movie in Rochester is in theory a great idea. But our government officials have done a lousy job of looking out for our small businesses and our citizens that have been inconvenience by this.

    City residents were given little warning about this. I haven’t seen any kind of cost/benefit analysis; nor any accounting of how and who will receive the alleged $600,000 boost to our local economy. Obviously it is killing business for many of our Main Street and surrounding merchants. In theory, the inconvenience should be worth it. But the truth of this is clearly not evident.

  7. I have a friend in LA who is a location scout. He drives around with a massive bankroll of cash paying off people to allow shooting in their area, paying them what I believe cold be termed ‘jack squat’ compared to the project’s budget, but a hell of a lot more than the $1000 that hot dog cart guy was offered. Mr. Amico nailed it, fools in charge will be taken for a ride every time. Seeing more fake NYPD cars on Main St. than RPD actually has on patrol at any time was just pathetic. But pathetic is the norm here. Rochester likes to pretend it is big time but it will always be Smugtown, NY’s third largest city with third rate ‘leaders’. Just wait until the movie comes out and there will be all kinds of “oooooh, we can see our Main St. in the movie, we are special!’ parties. Every time a movie has a scene shot within the 585 or 607 this happens. Kinda like how renting your house to some PGA blowhard is newsworthy. That isn’t news, it’s a Facebook status update.

  8. May 3, 2013 at 10:38 am wkeber responds:

    Argh! I tried to take a deep breath and not respond to this, but I can’t help it.

    Everyone, this shoot lasts TWO WEEKS. They aren’t here to stay. My GOD, based on this response you’d think this was a foreign occupation!

    By next Friday, our lives will be back to normal and the bus riders will be stopping on Main Street to buy their knick-nacks and sodas and everything will settle down.

    If a business can’t survive without revenue for TWO WEEKS then it’s not a very strong business to begin with – and reveals just how weak our city’s core is.

    • May 3, 2013 at 10:59 am Rachel Barnhart responds:

      Kind of heartless. How about you do without your next paycheck…after all it’s only two weeks.

      • anyone should be able to do without 2 weeks of income. it should obviously be hard, but any financially healthy individual or business should be able to survive 2 weeks of no income (and further, why didn’t these business just close for 2 weeks)

  9. May 3, 2013 at 11:17 am wkeber responds:

    I truly didn’t mean it to come across as heartless, just exasperated. I’m lucky to be in a position to survive for two weeks without a paycheck. But it hasn’t always been this way for me and I’ve felt the pinch of paycheck-to-paycheck living. I’m not wishing ill upon any business owner, I just wanted to make the point that this situation isn’t going to last forever. I’m concerned that with all the fuss we’re making, it will lower Rochester’s chances for getting picked again for a project like this!

    There’s so much talk about how Rochester wants to grow up and be a real city, but when real city things start happening (like movie shoots), immediately there’s a focus on the drawbacks. Sure, there’s no economic benefit to have Spidey film here – no argument about that. But there’s a certain buzz about Rochester this week! It’s been a glorious week of weather, and between Spring fever and the activity downtown, it just seems more FUN here. And next week, Spidey will go home and it’ll probably start raining, and life will go back to normal ::sadface::

  10. May 3, 2013 at 11:30 am theodore kumlander responds:

    that’s why I moved to Ontario County. the biggest problem we have is the over building on RT.96 .

  11. May 3, 2013 at 11:46 am justaguy responds:

    A buzz where? Here? We blow our own horn enough. Is there news in Buffalo, Syracuse or Toronto about the filming? How about in Hollywood or NYC? No the buzz is on local news, some hotels and restaurants. You’ve fallen for the hype instead of looking at reality. Reminds me of how we ended up in Iraq, political cheeeleading, a complicit media (other than Rachel) and a willingly ignorant citizenry. Buzz….. hah!

  12. May 3, 2013 at 3:55 pm Bruce Smith responds:

    I’ll bet the only people happy to have the crew here are the extras.

  13. May 3, 2013 at 8:50 pm Orielly responds:

    “If a business can’t survive without revenue for TWO WEEKS then it’s not a very strong business to begin with – and reveals just how weak our city’s core is.”

    Let me guess, you never owned or ran a business did you? No way a business owner would say that.

    But the real question is, why should a private business owner have to pay in lost income or revenue, and in essence, pay to have the movie film here in Rochester.

    And the second question is, why do we ALL need to go through all this hassle for whats said to be under 80 seconds of film for a movie most of us won’t see?

    And finally a weak city economy is not always directly related to a business’s operations and success, and vice versea. And God bless those that try and make a go of a business in the city, and if they just make it by, so what good for them.

    • May 4, 2013 at 2:55 am wkeber responds:

      As a matter of fact, I have owned a business (1997-2007). Under ideal circumstances, I would strive to have 60 days cash-on-hand, granted it would vary month-to-month. In my MBA curriculum, we were taught to have 120 days cash-on-hand or more (in order to make payroll and cover inventory/operating expenses.) That way business owners could take a vacation – or better yet close down for a week or two while Spiderman is filming in town – and not go under.

      Anyway, I digress. Obviously, you’re right: we’re all paying to have Spidey here in one way or another! I just want us to stop complaining and enjoy the excitement this has brought us. This isn’t the end of the world. Have a scotch and lighten up!

      • May 4, 2013 at 12:40 pm Orielly responds:

        “In my MBA curriculum, we were taught to have 120 days cash-on-hand or more (in order to make payroll and cover inventory/operating expenses.)”

        Yea they “teach” great things in MBA Classes, reality is another thing altogether. I would dare to say that most successful business started out without 120 days cash on hand at many times. And I doubt Wegmans or Paychex has 120 days “cash on hand”. They can get it but its not “cash on hand”.

        But again, why should a private business owner take a hit in revenue and profit for a movie to be made that they have nothing to do with?

        And because they are losing money and speaking out about it isn’t complaining, because its not complaining when they are RIGHT! Its a free country, free to say what you want, and you’re supposed to be free to start a business and complete in a free market that does not limit you to reach your customers.

        I’ll lighten up, when our politicians and taxes lighten up and become pro business … for ALL business vs picking winners and losers and in the city’s case even competing with private business owners.

  14. May 3, 2013 at 9:27 pm Animule responds:

    This is economic development pornography. The lasting effect of this charade will be zippo. But it’s a teachable moment, though, that shows that government has no business whatsoever pushing “economic development.” But this is small potatoes. Check out how much Cuomo wants to bribe some computer company to set up shop in NYS for “Project Azalea” – “tens of millions of dollars” the D&C tells us in a story buried in the paper today to create 1,000 jobs. You’d be better off dropping the money from a helicopter over any city in NYS – it would have more of a lasting effect. And King Cuomo is also spending $140 million to tell the world that “New York is open for business.” What a crock. http://www.nytimes.com/2013/05/04/nyregion/new-york-states-ads-to-attract-business-also-draw-complaints.html?_r=0

  15. Rochester is famous for doing stuff like this that the leaders think is cool but which kills small business – When we owned Lakeshore Record Exchange on Lake Ave. in Charlotte in 1984 they closed off Lake Ave at Kodak Park for the Tall Ships Festival at the beach. You had to have a sticker on your windshield as a resident or as a business owner to get through the barricades – The hundreds of thousands of people attending the festival were bussed into the site at Port Of Rochester at the end of Lake Ave, and snow fences kept them from leaving the site to patronize any of the nearby businesses. The end result was that the only businesses in Charlotte to benefit from the festival were the ones who contracted with the city to set up on the festival site – Even the Penny Arcade, right across from the site at the Port Of Rochester, had their entrance blocked by the city with snow fences. Every other business in Charlotte basically had four zero business days with their regular customers not being able to get near them. What is happening now with the Spider Man movie is typical of the way the Rochester city fathers do things – If it’s something that can make the city look less bush league and more major league they jump at it and screw the little guy – One of many reasons why I don’t live in Rochester any more.

  16. So that is why it was named Lakeshore.
    That story reminds me of how Nick Tahoe’s had a place at Frontier Field when it opened and within one season the other vendors bitched that everyone was buying plates and not their food. So what do they do? Kick Tahoe out of course. Don’t celebrate a local thing or tell others to up their game, no, take the idiot’s way out. Oh and then bring in Red Osier because ‘everyone’ craves a sandwich made with a slab off too thick and tough roast beef at the game.
    It is the company town/Smugtown way………..

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