The constant destruction of local landmark small businesses to make way for corporate chains and apartment complexes is detrimental to San Marcos culture—a loss that will be felt by both students and residents for years to come.
Officials at development company Carson Properties have drafted plans to buy out some local businesses along the 200 block of Edward Gary St. in order to build a new, nine-story complex containing space for retail, apartments, parking and a community center, according to a Jan. 15 University Star article. Carson Properties officials have already acquired signed contracts from two of the three businesses on that block—Triple Crown and Eskimo Hut.
Authentic San Marcos culture has seen a steady decline during the past couple of years. The town used to be known for its live music venues—now the scene has been reduced to tumbleweeds.
Tantra used to host live music almost every night. In 2012, the coffee shop trimmed live music down to a paltry weekly bluegrass night. The Coffee Pot Bistro used to periodically host local bands, but the café was ousted from the location it occupied for decades only to be replaced by yet another bar. Now Triple Crown, one of the last remaining venues that regularly offers live music, has been signed over to a company that wants to build a commercial megaplex likely to be occupied by flavorless nationwide chains.
The Square is slowly being taken over by 21 and up only venues, a distressing problem for the huge crowd of underage students who live in San Marcos. Triple Crown is one of the few locations with live music that offers 18-and-up nights.
Although Triple Crown owner Allen Manning has said he plans to relocate if construction plans for the megaplex are approved, the likelihood of that actually occurring is doubtful. Coffee Pot owners said the same thing when their original location shut down more than a year ago, and San Marcos still does not have a clear successor to the now-defunct coffee shop.
To be clear, the editorial board is not criticizing local business owners who sign over the rights of their properties to development companies. When owners are presented with once-in-a-lifetime monetary offers for their properties, it is only natural that they accept. However, the fact that more and more of the iconic local businesses that make San Marcos unique are disappearing is distressing and needs to be addressed.
Chain stores and bars should not be frowned upon as a whole, but when development comes at the cost of landmark San Marcos businesses that have stood for decades, students and residents have a right to speak up and voice their concerns. Business growth is beneficial to the community, but only when it is responsible and does not come at the cost of local culture.
There are plenty of places in town where chain stores, apartments, bars and other businesses could be built. For instance, Springtown Shopping Center, located off Thorpe Lane and Springtown Way, is in a prime location and has long stood largely vacant. It would make sense for corporations such as Carson Properties to develop commercial interests in such an area because a revitalization of the Springtown area is desperately needed.
While growth in San Marcos should definitely be encouraged, new developments must not overtake time-honored local favorites. Residents and students need to make their voices heard about the destruction of local culture now if there is any hope of halting the homogenization and corporate takeover of San Marcos businesses in the future.