February 11, 2009

Neiman Marcus: Not going quietly into the good night and totally committed to Walnut Creek!

Not sure this is the news that some of you want to hear. And I'm not sure whether to take this proclamation with the proverbial "grain of salt," considering the plight of high-end luxury retailers in today's difficult economy.

But a representative with Texas-based Neiman Marcus, as well as Walnut Creek Mayor Gary Skrel and representatives of Broadway Plaza, say that the department store chain is, like, totally committed to Walnut Creek's Broadway Plaza.

No way were those involved with the Neiman Marcus project going to let a referendum drive--bankrolled, it turns out, by the builder and manager of Pleasanton's Stoneridge mall and Concord's Sunvalley mall, respectively--"shoo them out of Walnut Creek."

This declared commitment to Walnut Creek's Broadway Plaza comes from a report today in the Contra Costa Times. In this same report, we learn that, indeed, yes, as long-time rumors hinted, Neiman Marcus considered locating in Stoneridge mall and in San Ramon's long-anticipated City Center.

But apparently, Walnut Creek has what it takes to lure such a retail prize as Neiman Marcus: Location, location, location! As well as a hip, happening, and thriving retail and cultural scene--at least, until we were hit with the Recession (with a capital "R") or, as some pessimistically say, GD2 (Great Depression 2).

"Walnut Creek would be best for our customers and the best environment conducive to our business," Wayne Hussey, a senior store development vice president for Neiman Marcus, told the Contra Costa Times. "When the opportunity for Walnut Creek came, we began working with (Broadway Plaza owner) Macerich."

I know, not the most captivating quote I've ever read.

But what might be captivating to you Neiman Marcus fans out there--or Neiman Marcus detractors--is this admission, as well as the forecast for when the store might eventually open up in Broadway Plaza.

Remember, Neiman Marcus scaled back its plans for its Walnut Creek store--from 107,000 square feet to 92,000 square feet--"largely in response to the concerns raised by referendum and lawsuit backers," say Neiman Marcus and Broadway Plaza reps.

As I said, I take these proclamations from Neiman Marcus, Broadway, and Walnut Creek city officials cautiously. After all, current economic woes have prompted other stores to close, declare bankruptcy, or delay expansions. Neiman Marcus' sales were down 21 percent nationally for the three-month period ending Jan. 31, the Times says.

So, can the players in this project really make it happen? Can they bring Neiman Marcus to Walnut Creek? Is this something that the residents of Walnut Creek or the region really want or care about?

Those involved in the project express tons of optimism, with Hussey saying that he hopes the Broadway Plaza store will open in late 2011.


Anonymous said...

City Hall has been falling over itself to accomodate this so-called asset to Broadway Plaza. It's still way too big for that spot. Perfectly good buildings are being torn down and a parking lot is being removed for what? A store that doesn't accomodate the residents of WC.

Anonymous said...

The 'spin' was evident in today's article; how NM wanted to go with the wishes of the citizens, and other such lies.
The reality is, the wishes of the citizens were disregarded, as usual, the General Plan advisories were ignored, and the only was this was modified was by threat of lawsuit.
Creeksters, that is the only voice heard in this town.

Bernie said...

Just look at Macerich's stock price. The symbol is MAC. Not a good looking chart. And, are they seriously going to pay out that 20+% quarterly dividend? Yeah right! You never know, Macerich may not be around long enough to see this Neiman Marcus project through.