Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Real Estate

I think I’ve mentioned that one of things I really love about living here is that I get to see how Brindisi changes. I don’t think I noticed new things in Indianapolis like I do here (again maybe I’m becoming too Italian as I see what’s going at all the stores as being “my business”). I like to watch new stores open up. Who knows what it will be!! Then sometimes it actually hurts when they close because you lose friends. The pet store where I used to buy everything for Nello and Mara closed without warning and I ran into the lady that worked in it and she said that her brother owned the store and he just wanted something further outside of town that was cheaper to run. It was shame as she was very friendly and quick with help. When Mara arrived at my place she sent me directly to the Pharmacy to get “Milkazoo” or something like that. It’s powdered milk made for cats and dogs still nursing but without a mother. She kept pictures of many pets around town in her store and knew all of them by name.
Then there are the other stores I don’t miss, like when a store opened next the gym. I knew it couldn’t last. This new store had the brilliant idea to sell cell phones (we really needed ANOTHER cell phone store) and…wait until you hear this…perfumes! What a combination. That was a store destined to close and it didn’t make 6 months.
And it’s not just stores that have changed over time. Piazza Vittoria in town was completely redone and made off limits to cars. Almost every church in town has been, or is currently, covered in scaffolding during the time I’ve been here. Some one-way streets have changed direction 3 times now! I never cease to be surprised. Right now there are 71 houses, although some are not real “houses”, that are being bulldozed just North of town because they were built without zoning approval and too close to the sea. The owners built illegally on purpose and then planned to fight in court until they are allowed to leave their house in place. It didn't work this time. The current mayor is always talking of a new “water front” project. The whole area from the Bar Betty to the Vertigo could become a piazza with no cars. That would be great but we would loose a lot of parking that’s needed in the summer. Well, not for me because I walk down there. I wonder how this mayor will get it done and what compromises will be made. I'm staying tuned!
Closer to me there are two big pieces of property that could be interesting developments in the months to come. Across the street and next to the old wall is an abandoned building that is now up for sale. I see my neighbor two floors down, the one with the yapping dog, wrote about it in the newspaper. He expressed my sentiments too. It would be sooo nice to knock it down, which would expose more of the old walls that used to surround Brindisi and maybe make a nice little piazza there. We’ll see.
The other property is just on the other side of that old wall from my apartment. It too has been abandoned the whole time I’ve been here. Recently they had the steel shutters open and I saw into it for the first time. It turns out the building itself is not very deep because there is an internal courtyard completely hidden from the street. I was immediately thinking “that is so cool” and it’s been abandoned for who knows how long. I asked Mino at “il Salu..mino” what is being done with the building and he said no one is sure but the rumor is that a “Fabbrica di birra” is going in. What? A brewery? Surely he means a bar, as it would have to be a true “micro-brew” to fit in that place. Also I can’t imagine a brewery inside the centro storico. Anyway there’s always something to watch or listen for in news (be it official or through the grapevine).


Kataroma said...

Even here in Rome I notice that businesses don't turn over nearly as often as they seemed to in New York or Sydney (other big cities where I've lived.) Is that to do with the ridiculously long leases here, the inherent conservatism of Italy or something else?

Jeff Gromen said...

I've never noticed changes like this so I can't say. I know a friend of mine signed a 3 year lease on a bar but he only managed it one summer and then moved on so they don't honor the long leases.
I think the banks may give too much money to businesses that don't have a chance in hell of succeeding.