VIE DE BOHÈME
In mid-August we received a letter from our landlord's attorney terminating our current rental arrangement, and giving us until the end of September to vacate. The City of Portland's Bureau of Development Services (BDS) decided to come down hard on certain code issues related to our building. Although well aware our venue posed no risks to its occupants, they proceeded with a bureaucratic one-size-fits-all approach, where impact on the community somehow never factors into the calculus.
Though we were willing to bear a considerable burden of expense for the upgrades they demanded, our landlord was not willing to pay for the other improvements required that would have allowed us to stay. In addition, we were informed that any new lease signed would mean a near doubling of our rent. There is no way that we could absorb that kind of increase.
With our hands tied, we say goodbye to the beautiful dream that was VDB - a quirky, bohemian, Euro-inspired, multi-generational, TV-free dream zone for building community and sharing a wildly eclectic musical, cultural, and theatrical richness.
It's hard to express all the emotions that we're feeling at this time. It's a sad outcome for all the amazing performers we've had the honor to meet and to host, not to mention the community groups and non-profits we have made it our business to support. As we wrote to our landlord: "Look around Portland, and see all that is disappearing. What we feel is not just anger and sadness, not just pride in having made something beautiful and unique. What we know is that what was created here was precious -and rare -and that the blow to this community is incalculable."
Sadly, we are now seeing this all over Portland, with live music venues steadily disappearing, along with many other small businesses and once affordable housing that gave this City its uniqueness and character. Unless the citizenry becomes more involved and vocal about the decisions being made and the direction things are headed, the Portland that we loved, the Portland of livable neighborhoods and entrepreneurial risk-taking, will be a distant memory. We will have allowed ourselves to be colonized.
We'd like to express our love and thanks to the many musicians and other artists it has been our privilege to host here, and to our vendors and patrons, who have contributed so much to the spirit of Vie de Boheme. To our staff, former staff, and friends, who offered us their encouragement, their love, and their many talents to help our business grow and develop, we want to offer our deepest thanks for having been a part of this Bohemian life - and our promise that you will never be forgotten. -Leni & Dennis