Existential Dilemma

Campus Issues: The Store Operations Board needs to prove it can find stores capable of providing the type of revenue it wants.

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The discussion over what to do with the Bear's Lair Food Court has hovered over the Berkeley campus for over a decade, and right now a solution is a little closer to being realized. Now that the Store Operations Board knows that one business in the food court-Healthy Heavenly Foods-will leave due to a rent increase, it falls to the board to prove it can be replaced with a more profitable business.

In discussing new lease agreements with the three businesses currently in the food court, the board found it in the ASUC's best interest to raise the rent for two of the stores by over twice their current rate. Essentially, the board has made it clear that it wants businesses with the ability to bring in more revenue than the current rate, whether those businesses are local mom-and-pop shops or larger organizations with more resources.

But the board must know that before they can convince anyone that they've been doing the right thing-for both the ASUC as a campus organization and for the students who spend money at the food court-they must show that there are, in fact, businesses out there that are able and willing to fulfill the board's new requirements.

Otherwise all their arguments, preferences for businesses in Lower Sproul Plaza and talk about needing to find new sources of revenue will be hollow and weightless.

Although talks about how best to revamp Lower Sproul Plaza have resulted in much rhetoric and no real results for over a decade, the ASUC in general and the Store Operations Board in particular can now take an actual step towards that goal.

They need to prove that they can find the kind of businesses that can integrate with Berkeley culture and bring the ASUC the money it needs.

If not, the Bear's Lair Food Court will start to look much like Berkeley's downtown area-the number of vacant spots on the rise with no incentive for new business, much less a reason for overhauling Lower Sproul Plaza.

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