Perhaps you were one of the many (OK, dozens) of people who were deeply offended by the callous disregard of Church Street's "history" by sneaky developers and an uncaring city bureaucracy. Perhaps you wept when the wrought-iron bridge railings came down, or when ornate metal brackets were ripped off the side of the Western-themed attraction. "Orlando's history is being destroyed," you might have sobbed, head in hands. "Our children will never have a sense of place. How can they know our city if it keeps changing faces? How can we know where we're going if we don't know where we came from?"
Well, dry your eyes and get out your wallet. Church Street Station, as you knew it in the glory days, is up for sale lock, stock and Phineas Phogg's sign. (There's probably a barrel on the block, too, but I'd rather avoid the cliché.)
The folks bringing you the new and (some would say) improved Church Street Station have opened a new store, the Antiques Emporium on Church Street, to sell you pieces of the old Church Street Station. Nostalgia, it turns out, will cost you dearly.
Interested in a four-foot chunk of Rosie O'Grady's Good Time Emporium, perhaps the same one you vomited on in 1988? That'll be $7,000, please. A poker table from the Cheyenne Saloon? $1,800. A wooden airplane propeller that used to grace the wall at Lili Marlene's? Only $3,000, plus tax, of course.
They've got everything from etched glass that once adorned the front of Rosie's, to the nickel-beer mugs for which the bar was so famous. And, in the ultimate challenge to put your money where your mouth is, you can buy a chunk of the same wrought-iron bridge railing that caused so much consternation among preservationists for just $1,750. No, you don't get the whole bridge for that price, just enough of it to pretty up your garden, or something.
The store opened Dec. 17 in the old Bumby Arcade building. A cynic would point out that only a few days earlier Church Street developer Robert Kling formally requested that the city pay him the first half of a $1.5 million construction loan which, by the terms of his contract, isn't due until Church Street is at least 50 percent complete. It isn't, and Kling admits as much, but what the hell, $750,000 of taxpayer money sure buys a lot of Christmas cheer.
A cynic would also note that if Orlando makes the first installment -- city officials are reviewing the status of Church Street Station right now to see if Kling is eligible for the money -- it would essentially be financing Kling's efforts to sell artifacts back to its citizens.
But it's Christmas, so the cynic took the day off. To the victor goes the spoils, and it's a pretty cool store anyway, if you can stomach the prices.
Party till you puke
Or until 3 a.m., whichever comes first. The Orlando City Council once again gave O-Town tipplers a New Year's gift of one extra hour of boozing to celebrate New Year's Eve. The one-day extension, passed with little fanfare on the city's Dec. 8 agenda, applies to all bars within city limits. A harbinger of harder-drinking days to come under the Dyer administration? Perhaps.