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Archived Newsletter Content


Newsletter #63 September - November, 2003

Used Book Sale

        Used books have been coming in by the car loads, but they haven't been going away by the car loads. Used books are piled to the ceiling. Piles of used books on the floor are blocking the aisles. So, we're going to have a used book sale.
        All used books will be 20% off, whether you have a discount card or not. The sale includes used paperbacks, used hardcovers, used magazines, and bagged books. The sale will run Friday, August 29 through Sunday, September 7 - that gives you two weekends to haul away bargains. We will be closed Monday, September 1 for Labor Day. The sale will only be for customers shopping in the store-it does not apply to mail orders.

Award News

        The Compton Crook Award for Best First SF/F Novel of 2002 went to Devlin's Luck by Patricia Bray ($5.99). The sequel, Devlin's Honor ($5.99) came out in June.

        The John W. Campbell Award for best SF novel of last year went to Probability Space by Nancy Kress ($24.95). Second place went to Kiln People by David Brin ($7.99), and third place went to Hominids by Robert J. Sawyer ($7.99).

        The Locus Award Winners (voted by the subscribers to Locus Magazine) include:
        Best SF Novel: Years of Rice and Salt by Kim Stanley Robinson ($7.99);
        Best Fantasy Novel: The Scar by China Mieville ($18.95);
        Best First Novel: A Scattering of Jades by Alexander C. Irvine ($7.99);
        Best Young Adult Novel: Coraline by Neil Gaiman ($15.99 hc or $5.99 tr pb);
        Best Collection: Stories of Your Life and Others by Ted Chiang ($14.95);
        Best Anthology: The Year's Best Science Fiction: Nineteenth Annual Collection edited by Gardner Dozois ($19.95);
        Best Art Book: Spectrum 9: The Best in Contemporary Fantastic Art edited by Cathy Fenner and Arnie Fenner ($35.00 hardcover or $27.00 trade paperback).

        The Shamus Award Nominees include the following:
        Best PI Novel: Blackwater Sound by James W. Hall ($6.99), North of Nowhere by Steve Hamilton ($23.95 signed hardcover or $6.99 pb), The Last Place by Laura Lippman ($23.95, $7.50 pb due early September), Hell to Pay by George Pelecanos ($6.99), and Winter and Night by S. J. Rozan ($6.99);
        Best First PI Novel: Westerfield's Chain by Jack Clark ($24.95), The Bone Orchard by D. Daniel Judson ($6.50), The Distance by Eddie Muller ($25.00), Open and Shut by David Rosenfeld ($6.99), and Private Heat by Robert Bailey ($21.95);
        Best Paperback Original PI Novel: Cash Out by Paul Boray ($6.99), Juicy Watusi by Richard Helms ($15.95), The Lusitania Murders by Max Allan Collins ($6.99), Paint It Black by P.J. Parrish ($6.99), and The Poisoned Rose by D. Daniel Judson ($6.50).

        The Macavity Award Nominees include:
        Best Novel: Nine by Jan Burke ($24.00, &6.99 pb due early September), Winter and Night by S. J. Rozan ($6.99), Savannah Blues by Mary Kay Andrews ($13.95), City of Bones by Michael Connelly ($7.99), and Jolie Blon's Bounce by James Lee Burke ($25.00, $7.99 paperback due early September);
        Best First Novel: A Valley to Die For by Radine Trees Nehring, The Blue Edge of Midnight by Jonathon King ($6.99), In the Bleak Midwinter by Julia Spencer-Fleming ($23.95 signed hardcover or $6.99 pb), and The Distance by Eddie Muller ($25.00);
        Best Critical/Biographical: The Mammoth Encyclopedia of Modern Crime Fiction edited by Mike Ashley ($12.95), The Art of Noir: The Posters and Graphics from the Classic Era of Film Noir by Eddie Muller ($50.00, but all of our copies were defective and we haven't yet been able to get non-defective copies), They Died in Vain: Overlooked, Underappreciated, and Forgotten Mystery Novels edited by Jim Huang ($13.00), and Intent to Sell: Marketing the Genre Novel by Jeff Marks.
        The Lamda Literary Awards included Gay Men's Mystery to The Snow Garden by Christopher Rice ($13.00), Lesbian Mystery to Good Bad Woman by Elizabeth Woodcraft ($22.00, $14.00 tr pb due early October) and Immaculate Midnight by Ellen Hart ($24.95), and SF/Fantasy/Horror to Queer Fear II edited by Michael Rowe ($17.95).

Neighborhood Update
by Don Blyly

        I started complaining about a year ago about the city's plan to replace the existing bridge next to the Uncles with three bridges. Just before the last issue of the newsletter went to the printer, the city announced it would finally hold a public meeting to let people know what was going on and consider the options.
        The city project manager and the consulting engineers did a very good job of explaining why the old bridge had to be replaced, the time frame that must be adhered to in order to use federal money for the replacement, and the relative merits of the one-bridge and the three-bridge option. They had large posters of each bridge option from various points of view and by day and night (to show the lighting effects). There was spirited discussion, with one person at one extreme pointing out that there are 30 bridges to be replaced over the next 30 years, and this is an unprecedented chance to produce 30 different pieces of art, so each bridge should be a unique artistic statement, and he felt that only the 3-bridge concept felt to him like a unique artistic statement. A woman at the other extreme talked about how you can now stand down in the former railroad bed and look down this series of identical bridges that are perfectly lined up, so that it was as if you were looking down a series of giant dinosaur vertebrae. She felt that the 3-bridge design would destroy the current unique artistic feel of the series of bridges, but she thought that with some tinkering the 1-bridge concept could still suggest the current feel without reproducing the current support pillars. After an hour and a half of debate, the vote was 11 to 1 in favor of the 1-bridge design.

        About the time that the last issue of the newsletter went out, the city sent out Requests For Proposal for the old Sears site. The city only received 4 proposals, all from local developers. I'll give my summation {and comments} of the presentations of the 4 proposals, in the order they were presented to the Project Review Committee.
        Fine Associates is a major developer of housing, and they propose to primarily put housing into the old Sears site. They would convert the building over the former railroad tracks into a 110-unit hotel to primarily serve the hospital market. They would put retail and offices into the first 2 floors of the main Sears building, and housing would take up the 3rd floor on up, with a combination of rental at market rate and condos. They would also put in a pool and fitness center for the use of the residential tenants. Because the floors of the Sears building are a block wide, and zoning code requires that all the apartments have windows, the apartments will be BIG (900 to 2000 square feet each). The primary market will be employees of the local hospitals and Wells Fargo Mortgage. They plan to put in a total of 291 apartments and condos, and they figure they can put 280 parking spaces into the basement, which they think will be adequate parking for the residents. {When they did a presentation to the Chicago-Lake Business Association, they were strongly criticized for making a tight parking situation even worse. Nobody thought they were providing enough parking for the needs of the employees and customers of the retail and office tenants on the first 2 floors. Nobody thought that 280 parking spaces in the basement were enough for the 291 apartments and condos, which would be large, expensive, and probably need two incomes to afford to live there. The presenters insisted that they had provided adequate parking for their needs, and besides surface parking is tacky. They probably could come up with the financing to do the development, and they might be able to make money by putting a yuppie fortress into the site, but I don't think their proposal would help the rest of the neighborhood.}
        The second proposal is from Ryan Companies, another major developer with lots of experience and the financial strength to get the job done. They've also put together a top-notch team of people with expertise to handle the various aspects of the plan. They plan to put a medical research lab in one part of the basement, with Re-Use Center having the rest of the basement and a small part of the first floor. A large piece of the first floor would be used for an international market, with the primary emphasis being food, both cooked on-site and uncooked for people to take home to cook, with a total of 70-80 different small businesses including sit-down restaurants, ethnic delis, bakeries, and fish markets. This space would be managed by people with experience helping small business start-ups and a person with experience from the Pike Place Market in Seattle. Part of the first and second floor would be taken by Hennepin County. Much of the rest of the first floor would be restaurants and the lobby area for the Sheraton Hotel (135-150 sleeping rooms, plus lots of function space to handle wedding receptions, educational conferences, etc.). Upper floors would include 176 units of "active senior" rental housing (managed by a local company with lots of experience developing and managing such housing in older buildings nation-wide), 109 units of "artist loft" rental housing (managed by a different local company with lots of experience developing and managing such housing in older buildings nation-wide), plus more office space. They plan on having about 450 surface parking spaces on the west side of the building plus 1100 parking spaces in a ramp on the east side of the building. {The only aspect of their plan I'm significantly unhappy about is their plan to tear down the building over the former railroad tracks, which I understand they think they have to do to provide windows for the Sheraton Hotel overlooking the Greenway, since every hotel room must have windows to comply with the building code.}
        The third proposal came from Basim Sabri, a small local developer who said some neighborhood activists talked him into putting in a proposal at the last minute. He had no team assembled, he didn't seem to have much of an idea what he wanted to do, and what he did discuss was often strange and self-contradictory. {I can't imagine the city giving the project to him, and I can't imagine him being able to get financing for a $100 million development.}
        The fourth proposal seemed to come from a bunch of local people that had each had some experience with some aspect of re-development. So, they decided to pool their experiences to put together a proposal. They seemed to want to start by putting up a bunch of new buildings on the open spaces where the Sears parking lots had been, and then get around to the actual redevelopment of the Sears complex only after they've started making a profit from the new buildings. {But they propose to put a hotel and parking ramp directly across the street from Uncle Hugo's, on a smaller foot print than would be taken for just the 110-unit four-story hotel proposed by Fine Associates, but new buildings on that site are limited to a single story in order to maintain sunlight into the Greenway during the winter.} They would plan to use the first floor of the main building for retail, and residential for the upper floors. {Some parts of their plans for the main building seem a little strange (like using the 2nd and 3rd floors of the old Sear building for parking), and other parts seem very strange (like converting the most valuable piece of the old building, the frontage on Lake Street, into a huge four-story atrium looking down into an indoor soccer field in the basement, in order to draw people further into the building to visit the shops located farther away from Lake St.)}
        The original city plan called for a developer to be named (or all the developers to be told "No Thanks") in August. Now, the city is shooting for September to make a decision. The city really wants to sell the site by the end of the year.
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