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‘Save IOTA’ Campaign Gathering Steam Amid Uncertain Future

by Chris Teale — March 16, 2017 at 11:00 am 0

The campaign to save the IOTA Club and Cafe is gaining support, but organizers said there’s still much uncertainty about the redevelopment plan for IOTA’s building.

Organizers of the “Save IOTA” campaign — local residents and IOTA regulars Harry Blackwood and Melissa Mannon — said the lack of public, detailed plans from the developer is making them nervous.

Already, the pair launched a Facebook page for their efforts and have circulated paper petitions at the venue, in addition to an online petition.

“Right now, we’re in such early stages of the process that all we can really do is express concern about it and ask for more information,” Blackwood said.

A community meeting to discuss the redevelopment of a group of buildings on the 2800 block of Clarendon and Wilson Blvds by Regency Centers has been rescheduled from March 29 to May 10.

Eric Davidson, spokesman for Regency Centers, said the delay is because the firm has new renderings and video materials for the project, which includes IOTA’s current location.

“We just got some new visuals we want to get ready so we can tell the story of what we want to do here more clearly and get more community feedback on this project,” Davidson told ARLnow.com Wednesday morning.

The campaign brought more than 70 supporters to a meeting of the Clarendon/Courthouse Civic Association, where those present heard a presentation from Regency Centers vice president of investments Devin Corini.

And at that meeting, Mannon said, Corini emphasized that the company wants to keep IOTA in place. But organizers said those assurances are not enough to calm their fears.

“He [Corini] said some nice things about how they don’t want IOTA to go away, they want to work with the community and want them to stay,” Mannon said. “We like that sentiment, we just haven’t seen that proven in their actions yet. That’s very frustrating.”

Mannon and Blackwood said the petitions are just a first step, and they plan to continue to mobilize as the site plan moves through the county’s approvals process. The pair added they are seeking a private meeting with Regency Centers representatives to discuss the plans, but have been unsuccessful so far in scheduling one.

They said they have engaged not only local residents but those in the local music community, who all want to make sure the building and its mission are preserved.

“You have all these regulars and musicians and people who listen to music speaking from this very emotional place,” Blackwood said. “They have a lot of emotional attachment and affection for a building and a place and a location.”

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