Reader Mail Bag: An irate downtown condo owner

riversideonthejames1When it rains, it pours. We got more emails on Wednesday than any other day in our brief history.

A quick overview: On Wednesday ran a story that said around half of the balconies in the two downtown condo towers – Vistas on the James and Riverside on the James – have no patio furniture. We suggested that maybe the towers weren’t as inhabited as the sales data might suggest, and concluded that maybe closer to 50% of the units were inhabited by living breathing people. Our reasoning: Most people living there would have furniture, or a plant, or something. I later learned that Style Weekly ran a similar piece in 2006 about Riverside. They counted lights at night and parking spots and concluded the same thing.

Most readers who emailed us thought it was a neat way to tell the story. A few thought it was a ridiculous method. But one man went berserk. It was the most vitriolic email I’ve ever received.

I’ve taken off his name and edited out any identifying details to protect him. Yup. I’m that kinda guy. See my response following his diatribe.

I have been quickly scanning BizSense frequently. NO MORE!

Your article on Riverfront Condos puts your “publication” right down there with other trash cluttering our inboxes. I happen to live in those “half empty” buildings you “feature” in your article and have to ask myself what possible motivation you would have to demean and degrade and otherwise attempt to neutralize the commitment to and growth of our downtown. You do great disservice to those who live, work and love being part of our community’s rebirth. Your vanity, if that is by what you are motivated to think up such an off base analysis, should be just about at rock bottom. You certainly could not be motivated by your sense of civic duty or you would have found some productive issue about which to have written. Your journalistic skills and “professional business sense” are certainly not on par with those who write and critique on a substantive level; this is for sure.

The excitement of the solid press coverage of our canal district and downtown featured in Monday’s Richmond Times Dispatch has been attacked by you – for what possible reason I do not know. I have lived in Riverside on the James It is an exceptional place to live. By the way, we didn’t have furniture on our balcony for quite some time; it just wasn’t a priority.

My wife and I have made a major investment in downtown Richmond because we believe in our City. We believe deeply in reurbanization from positions of supporting environmental and business issues, personal freedom and, pay attention now, CIVIC PRIDE!!

You owe your readership and the City of Richmond an apology for your juvenile self centered attempt to fill up your duplicative and possibly derailing business venture – or is this just a time filling “ego-hobby” for you.

Please take me off of your distribution list. I didn’t ask to be on it in the first place.

Furious on the James (Name withheld)

AK responds:

There’s flattery buried deep beneath the hate. Furious on the James starts out by saying he scans our daily email. For that I thank him. Maye he can tell more of his friends, although I doubt it. But then things quickly digress.

I’m amazed at several things here, including the peculiar overuse of quotations. Leaving that aside, I’m amazed the writer, whom I’ve met once, took the risk of sending such a passionate note. Doesn’t he know we can post it for all to see? Trust me, it was tempting.

His logic would be as embarrassing as his use of quotation marks. Why doesn’t he cite a statistic or an anecdote about a building teeming with life? Instead he knocks my civic duty. He said I do “a great disservice to those who live, work and love being part of a community’s rebirth.” The irony is that we called this particular guy before filing the story but could not reach him.

Promoting Furious on the James’ condo tower – and presumably helping to prop up the real estate values – has nothing to do with civic duty. If that was the case, then reporters should still be recommending subprime loans. We all know where that got us. He’s also giving us far too much credit, believing that we can do a great disservice. How so?

Instead BizSense tries to present the facts. That’s our duty. As residents of the region, we hope that by doing the best job we can, local businesses armed with reliable facts can make solid decisions and grow accordingly.

Now, sometimes the facts are hard to assess. Everyone has an agenda, and realtors and developers generally don’t like to share anything that doesn’t make them look good. So we needed creative ways to tell the story. Hence the furniture count.

After we ran the story, I was told that the balconies at Vistas are too small for patio furniture. That’s a story in itself. Why would you build a tower called “Vistas” if there isn’t room on the deck to sit and enjoy a vista. (Vista is Spanish for view, for those of you who don’t habla Espanol.)

I’ve taken out all the identifying information, but in the email he says he does not have patio furniture because he was busy with remodeling and such.

Perhaps it’s time to get some. Then he could relax.

Editor Aaron Kremer does not live in a downtown condo — but he does have patio furntiure and a little Weber grill. He can be found grilling all year.

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