Kasko, too, has had visions for a Village rebirth over the years. But unlike Larschan, she doesn’t see those visions as a lost cause. She imagines that with the right blend of funky stores and relevant advertising, the Village could become a retail destination à la the Lab in Costa Mesa, the Third Street Promenade in Santa Monica or 5 Points Plaza in Huntington Beach. “It’s such a unique feel, so cool,” Kasko says. “It’s a great place if you have a clothing boutique and you’re used to paying all this mall rent.”

In April 2008, Kasko founded the Old World Merchants Association, independent of the homeowners’ association, to encourage that kind of transformation. The idea came to her after talking to the owner of Scuda, one of the Village’s vintage clothing shops. So far, Kasko says, the going has been slow, and the economic downturn isn’t helping things. Early meetings were well-attended, but, she says, it’s tough getting the Village’s businesses to work together, contribute money and agree on ideas. And just a few weeks ago, Scuda closed up and moved to Long Beach.

Still, she’s hopeful that a promotional DVD set to be completed this month will help attract new businesses to the Village—though she wishes the homeowners would help with the effort. Instead of providing money for the merchants’ association, members of the homeowners’ board are looking to cut the amount of advertising they provide for the Village.

illustration by Stephen Weigl
While she still operates Gourmet Lollipops, Michele Weiss (center, 
next to mother Patricia and son Miles) says there's not enough business to keep her Jewish Gifts store open
John Gilhooley
While she still operates Gourmet Lollipops, Michele Weiss (center, next to mother Patricia and son Miles) says there's not enough business to keep her Jewish Gifts store open

Some take that as a sign they’re abandoning any chance of a turnaround. Larschan objects to that idea. “We’re not giving up anything,” he says. “You look around the village: Is it clean? Our job is to maintain.”

And for Kasko, who wants to do more than maintain, there’s the matter of that lawsuit between her family and the board-of-directors majority, set for a hearing in April.

“It seems like this Village has some weird omen above it that doesn’t let anybody move past it,” Kasko says. “All these tales from the past keep haunting us.”

skornhaber@ocweekly.com


For more photos, please see our slideshow here.

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