Surveyors at Rumours…So Soon!?

A survey crew mapping the Rumours property—are bulldozers next?

It was a bit gut wrenching to see a survey crew at work this morning at 2304 12th Avenue South. It’s real now. IF the next step is demolition (I had a little too much wine and nostalgia last night, so forgive me if I’m jumping to conclusions), in the bulldozers’ wake, what would replace the patio that’s become my second backyard over the past few years? Apartments? Retail outlets I can’t afford to shop in? Surface parking?

I’m not naive: I get that one person’s community gathering place, home, and beloved watering hole is another person’s real estate investment. When it comes down to dollars, who can afford to be all touchy-feely? There’s no room for sentimentality when it’s time to write the mortgage check.  Business is business, right?

What’s tough for me to grasp is why business sometimes has to feel so…unfeeling. Is it even possible to merge commerce and caring? It seems that we, as a society, tend to think not. When an artist chooses to trade successfully in his creative work, we label him as a “sellout.” We root for social entrepreneurs but secretly believe that they will fail. And too often, the ways people choose to do business make the world a little worse for the rest of us. (Think Massey Energy.)

Is it really so impossible to do well and to do good, at the same time? To create something beautiful that changes the world for the better, and to cash in? I imagine that Steve Jobs, J.K. Rowling, Thomas Keller, Nicholas Kristof, and Somaly Mam would say no, it is not impossible. It’s just rare. It takes vision.

Halcyon Bike Shop—Mission+Commerce+Character

We apparently believe that there’s no room for the artist’s brain in the world of hard-nosed economic realities. Transactions must be devoid of feeling, we think. It’s a zero-sum game.

And where has that gotten us, exactly?

A lot of people tell me that I should be glad that 12South is doing so well, economically speaking. It can only increase the value of my property, they say. The thing is, I don’t much care. I’m not planning to sell. What I value isn’t the appraisal report on my house. I value the ability to walk up the street and hold court on a beautiful patio with my urban tribe. I value the artistry of Rumours owners Christy Shuff and Jenn Doherty McCarthy—the way they make me feel right at home every single time I walk in, and the way Jenn always knows what to pour. And I value the un-corporate cuteness of our little stretch of 12South—the old houses painted funky colors, the little gardens, the patio laughter on a perfect fall afternoon.

Do you know what pure, unadulterated commerce tastes like? Olive Garden. Applebee’s. I’ll pass, thanks.

I’m starting to feel as if these marvelous property values of ours have made our street smell a little too much like money, and as a result, a little less like a community. I hope I’m wrong. I hope that developers who may have grander plans for my favorite patio and wine bar really do intend to make lots of money and to make a small corner of the world a little bit better for everyone. Unfortunately, those two concepts do not always go hand in hand.

Related post: On Food, Love, and Artistry

Related post: Halcyon Days – One neighborhood’s “evolution”

9 thoughts on “Surveyors at Rumours…So Soon!?

  1. It’s so sad to hear about Rumors. It’s depressing to watch our most beloved quirky places disappear. What needs to happen before it’s to late…the community must be part of the building process. If you don’t like the design (like the place next to Savant) say so! Have community meetings. There is a reason everyone moved to the 12 South area. Make sure it stays that way.

    • Thanks for the note, Colleen! I refuse to lose hope entirely. I get mad and rant, but I’m at my core not capable of falling into hopeless bitterness. (Believe it or not!) Nor helplessness. Words have power—I’m thinking of the protest signs you put on your dangerous chihuahuas. Love that image! I see your videos of Fenix and feel hopeful and excited about old and good things rising anew.

  2. I find it all too depressing! We don’t even have a deal signed and the people I am trying to close things up with are being difficult, to say the least, down to the bitter end!!! SO WHY ARE THEY SURVEYING MY PROPERTY ALREADY AS IF THINGS ARE SIGNED, SEALED & DELIVERED????????

  3. Just found your blog via the 12South FB group…I’m a Wedgewood-Houston resident, and since there’s not much going on in our ‘hood, food & retail wise, I spend a lot of time over in 12South (also I love taking our pooch for walks over there). I’m also bummed about the closing of Rumours, it’s a great spot. Hopefully they can find somewhere nearby to relocate? I’d be a shame to lose them altogether! Great post.

    • Thanks for your note! Maybe I’ll see you around one day. They are looking for a new spot, although real estate for lease in 12South is scarce and not particularly affordable. The downside of “progress.”

  4. Pingback: The best Margaritas in Nashville – Growing up Gibson

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