BRIDGEPORT — Someone has decided to remind the neighborhood of Halsted Street's former splendor by applying snarky stickers to vacant storefronts.
The stickers, which read "Ugly Ol' Halsted: You've Really Let Yourself Go," have been spotted on several buildings in the last couple of weeks.
It's unclear who made the stickers, but local business groups and 11th Ward Ald. James Balcer are dismissing them as vandalism.
"No different than gangbangers and graffiti. If they're caught, they'll be held accountable," Balcer said.
The busy stretch of Halsted Street in Bridgeport, once anchored by the shuttered Ramova Theater in the 3500 block, is lined with both new businesses and shuttered storefronts.
Just in the last couple of years, there's been an influx of new stores on Halsted — Soluri & Sons Deli, Hardscrabble Gifts, Bridgeport Comics and Games and a Save-A-Lot grocery store among them. This month, boxer Frankie "Time Bomb" Scalise opens his Bridgeport Boxing Club on the site of a vacant liquor store.
Still, the street remains pocked with shuttered stores and boarded-up windows.
The ongoing work within the old Ramova Grill, which records show would transform the beloved diner into a Chinese restaurant and upstairs banquet hall, has no end in sight.
And those holding out hope for a renovation of the Ramova Theater were dealt a blow last month with the death of Ray Shepardson, a longtime proponent of the theater's preservation. The city owns the property and wants to lure developers to make it a "community anchor with an as-of-yet-undetermined use."
Both groups emphatically deny the sticker campaign is some form of guerrilla marketing.
Rob Warmowski, a spokesman for the business association, wrote in a blog post that the sticker's message "is as wrong as its vandalism. It needs to be said clearly that none of BBA’s officers, its members or our friends are thoughtless and idle enough to have done something so pathetically stupid as this. Imagine what kind of a moron could think: This street could look better. I know! I’ll call attention to it by … vandalizing its windows."
"It boggles the mind."
Donna Sukacz, a spokeswoman for the chamber, said her group's goal is to promote Bridgeport's business districts by hosting things like an upcoming summer cleanup on Halsted Street and seminars for small-business owners.
"Our whole goal is to revitalize [the area], and do it in a more positive way," she said.
As for the message on the stickers?
"I get it. We're working on it."
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