‘Save IOTA’ campaign gathers steam amid an uncertain future

The campaign to save the IOTA club and cafe is gaining support, but organizers said there is still a lot of uncertainty about the IOTA building redevelopment plan.

The organizers of the “Save IOTA” campaign – local residents and IOTA regulars Harry Blackwood and Melissa Mannon – said they were nervous about the developer’s lack of public, detailed plans.

The couple has already set up a Facebook page for their efforts and distributed paper petitions at the venue in addition to an online petition.

“Right now we are at such an early stage in the process that we can only raise concerns and ask for more information,” said Blackwood.

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

Eric Davidson, spokesman for the Regency Centers, said the delay was due to the company having new renderings and video materials for the project, which includes IOTA’s current location.

“We just got some new visuals that we want to prepare so that 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 on Wednesday morning.

The campaign brought more than 70 supporters to a Clarendon / Courthouse Civic Association meeting where attendees heard a presentation by Devin Corini, Vice President of Investments at the Regency Center.

And at that meeting, Mannon said, Corini emphasized that the company wants to keep IOTA. However, organizers said these assurances were not enough to allay their fears.

“He [Corini] said some nice things about not wanting IOTA to go away, they want to work with the community and want them to stay, “said Mannon. “We like that feeling, we just haven’t seen it proven in their actions. It’s very frustrating. “

Mannon and Blackwood said the petitions are just a first step and they plan to mobilize further while the site plan goes through the district approval process. The couple added that they are seeking a private meeting with representatives from the Regency Centers to discuss the plans, but have so far been unsuccessful in planning one.

They said they hired not only local residents but also 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 listening to music that speaks from this very emotional place,” Blackwood said. “You have a lot of emotional attachment and affection for a building, a place and a location.”

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