As reported by the Contra Costa Times, the proposed project will be two stories instead of three. And, perhaps most important for anyone who attempts to shop in downtown Walnut Creek, the smaller, 92,000-square-foot project (as opposed to the original proposal's 107,000 square feet) will require fewer additional parking spaces, meaning it will not need the five-story Broadway Plaza garage to be transformed to valet parking during peak shopping times.
The Times says:
Because the size of the store building is smaller in the new plan, [Broadway Plaza owner] Macerich Co. only has to add an additional 175 spaces. They will propose to meet this demand by installing a mechanical car-lift system parking for employees only, which will free up 150 spaces. Also for employees would be attendant or valet parking on the top level of the garage, which will net another 40 to 50 spaces.
A mechanical car-lift system? Not sure how that will work.
Marcerich says it scaled back the size of the high-end department store in response to public objections to the project's proposed height and to the additional burden it would place on downtown parking.
Macerich officials told the Times that this plan is not set in stone, and that they will participate in community meetings to discuss it, starting in a few weeks.
Meanwhile, we should note that, as Texas-based Neiman Marcus plans to build its Walnut Creek outpost, the luxury retailer, like other high-end retailers, was hit especially hard during the holiday shopping season. The economic recession has dampened the enthusiasm of luxury consumers; Neiman Marcus saw same-store sales sag 27.5 percent in December, the Associated Press reported.
Same-store sales, or sales at stores open at least a year, are a key indicator of retailer performance since they measure growth at existing stores rather than newly opened ones, AP says.
Such news about Neiman Marcus’s struggling fortunes continue to make me wonder if, and how soon, a Neiman Marcus will rise in Walnut Creek.