The Contra Costa Times' Elisabeth Nardi must have been right there at the very moment (or immediately thereafter) when documents were filed at 2 p.m. Monday with the Walnut Creek City Clerk. The documents reveal the identity of the mysterious key financial backer of a referendum campaign that could have stopped Neiman Marcus from coming to town.
And that mystery bankroller is? No, not forces supporting San Ramon's effort to build its new City Center, one of the suspects mentioned as recently as Sunday by Times Political Editor Lisa Vorderbrueggen.
The stealthy entity that refused to reveal itself to Times reporters is the Taubman Group. According to Nardi, the Taubman group is "a competing mall company based in Michigan that built Stoneridge in Pleasanton and still manages Sunvalley in Concord." The Taubman Group, Nardi reports, spent almost $95,000 to mobilize residents against the city's actions that would have allowed the luxury Texas-based retailer Neiman Marcus from building a new store in Broadway Plaza.
Last month, Marerich, the owner of Broadway Plaza, announced that it was scaling back its plans for the new Neiman Marcus in response to public objections to the project's proposed height and to the additional burden it would place on downtown parking.
The new (and maybe improved) 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.