Monday, October 29, 2007

Magic Lamp is no more

I'm surprised it took this long, but the Magic Lamp on Middle Road is suddenly no more. I went there a few times. At times it was great. Other times it wasn't. Their prices were too high for this market, which isn't supportive of things even slightly exotic. I dropped like $20 plus for lunch for just me once, and I wasn't having lobster or anything. I think it was just a chicken kebab, which was great. I went again for the same thing and it was terrible. The dinner and lunch kebab were the same high price, which doesn't work here. Tourists didn't know about them. It was at least an interesting place that a few people will miss.
I asked someone in the know about all the construction going on given the tons of empty space already here, and he said it was a rush to beat federalization and the rising minimum wage. Plus, land lease prices are so depressed it is a buyer's market. I have to wonder if all this empty space will just rot away unmaintained like La Fiesta Mall right now. Based on visual evidence alone, what investor is going to see all the dead space on island and be encouraged to invest here. Garapan is a similar situation. I seldom find myself there, and if I am it is at Godfather's so I'm not in the thick of it, but I was there a few weeks back walking around for one of the few times and the message that place sends is is that it is all about hostess bars and scantily clad women enticing karaoke patrons. Garapan is decidedly not family friendly. This is not to say that these places shouldn't exist somewhere, but the heart of the tourist district is just not the place.

Are these karaoke bars just straight up prostition rings or not? Do people see a young woman in the high heels and miniskirt and promptly say, "I sure would like to sing with her," and then leave happy only having exercised their vocal chords? I find that hard to believe.


Missy said...

We went once this year. It was okay, I liked the fact that they used fresh ingredients and seemed to really care about how the food was prepared. What I didn't like was the prices. It is sad, but I figured that it was only a matter of time.

BTW, any idea what is going in that new building in Garapan on the same side as DFS? We live near La Fiesta, so one day we walked up there and walked around (I know, trespassing and all). I wish that it could be restored to its former self, looks very nice for a mall. Now it is just an embarrassing eyesore.

: )

glend558 said...

All the new empty spaces are to be casinos when the SCA passes...Ha!

launder me said...

I understand that there are a number of operations motivated by the need to launder money coming from Japan and Korea. Historically, it has been Japan. Lately, Korea is realizing that the CNMI is also a great destination for money laundering. Anyone care to comment on whether this might also be a reason why construction is on the rise, so to speak?

SteeleOnSaipan said...

Unfortunately, the empty spaces don't only rot away but are cannibalized to the hilt. La Fiesta had nearly a half-million bucks worth of electrical infrastructure stolen and is not worth re-inhabiting. Same goes for the old Basic Construction on Beach Road, everything has been taken and any contractor will tell you that the building isn't worth moving into now.

lil_hammerhead said...

Landlords will sit on these places for years. No kidding, many of the vacanies you see around island have been that way for years. There is little incentive to rent them out at a fair market price. Why rent a place out for $300.00 a month, when you can take a gamble, sit on it for two years, and maybe dupe a Korean or Japanese into renting it for $2000 a month.

We need commercial property taxes now! When you get a new building permit or you decide to rent out apartment or commercial space, you must register it as a commercial property and you must pay annual commercial property taxes on it. A fair annual property tax will "motivate" landlords to get those places rented out at the current fair market value. It will also help foster small businesses, because regular people may be more likely to be able to afford the rent.

If you're a landlord paying $500 dollars a year in taxes on a property, you're more likely to get that space rented out ASAP.

Rose said...

I am sad to see Magic Lamp closed. On all three occasions I ate there the food was excellent, as was the personal attention by the owner/chef. You do have to pay for quality/fresh ingredients, and I didn't think the prices were that pay $6 for a chicken sandwich or salad at Mickey D's here for Pete's Sake! One of the things I love about Saipan in the culinary diversity here. The owner's name is escaping me right now, but I think she is one very interesting and talented lady. Maybe now she will have time to offer some cooking classes or belly dancing classes... :)