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"But on a more important note, if you ever decide to run for public office LJ, please have the good sense and insight to include the CITIZENS of Alexandria in any downtown development. Ultimately, it's our money and word of mouth that will make or break it," says U Know. This is a good point, and I agree with you 100%. That said, we welcome any interested investors to participate in our conversion project. None of us want the project to appear exclusive, and I think it is absolutely essential that the entire community is as enthusiastic about revitalization as we are. There is no way this can be a success without the support of the community. Clifford Moller of GAEDA approached me with an excellent idea that I have somewhat embellished. For now, the window space at Weiss and Goldring is not utilized, and we think we should use it in order to feature local artwork. I don't count Gnat Marks's "For Sale" sign in the window as a piece of art, though some may say it's post-Warholian. So, allow me to use this forum to introduce an art competition, open to anyone in the community. Your work will be displayed for at least two months, and the top prize will be determined by the pool of donations we can collect. Right now, we can safely guarantee a top prize of at least $250. For more information, e-mail me at lamarw@gmail.com, and I will get you in touch with Jonathan Bolen (yes, the son of the former councilman, Jay Bolen). In other news, Horatio and I met with Myron Lawson and Marvin Johnson today. We heard their grand plans for downtown and Lower 3rd Street, and I must admit: I was surprisingly impressed. While they spoke often of the walking trails (which I still believe to be a low priority), I think they understand that the only way to get people downtown again is by converting existing commercial property into residential property. "People like to live near where they work," was a mantra I heard repeatedly. I know people have their own opinions on this city council, and I probably share some of their views. But the funny thing is: Almost everyone I speak with is on the same page; there are just too many chiefs. It seems like everyone wants to be in charge, even though we all want the same thing. Instead of this infighting about who should be in control, let's just focus on getting the job done and working together. The ego b.s. has got to stop. You may not like the current council, but it is what it is. Another interesting thing that was discussed: Mr. Johnson told me that Pat Moore's plan only called for 30-something thousand dollars of investment in Lower 3rd. And let's face it: Downtown must be revitalized in coordination with investment in the surrounding neighborhoods. Today, I drove down Lower 3rd for the first time since I moved back. I'm slightly ashamed to admit this. But I noticed a lot of positive change in the area. I also noticed a plethora of awesome vacant warehouses, buildings that could easily be converted into studio spaces for artists or commercial spaces for small businesses. I'm also pitching this idea to the council: We need to create incentives for homeowners near City Park, particularly those in the Ivy Leagues neighborhood, in order for them to renovate the facades of their homes. (This type of incentive already exists for downtown property). I'd like to see the Ivy Leagues become Alexandria's version of Mid-City New Orleans; indeed, most of the structures are very similiar. All we need is a little paint and some landscaping.