February 2, 2009

Sneaky Neiman Marcus opponents unmasked!

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.


Anonymous said...

That's business folks.

Anonymous said...

That's only 16% smaller, not a big difference.

Anonymous said...

In these dire economic times it is rather refreshing to see two large mall operators battling it out for development superiority. Only in America!

I agree with ANON above, 16% smaller is not much of a change from the original plans approved by our city council then rescinded at the request of the applicants after the successful initiative campaign. However, don't be surprised to see this latest version sail right through the approval process without much dissent from the city folks. It is a matter of pride now and they will be willing to do anything to have Neiman Marcus in town to prove to the naysayers (otherwise known as concerned citizens)that they have great vision when it comes to the future of Walnut Creek.

From what I see of the new plans, the old issues of parking are being patched with a bandaid and traffic flow impacts are still not resolved. The design is somewhat better but still is not pleasing to the eye because of the massive building out of that corner.

Anonymous said...

Guess nobody really cares about the "Sneaky Neiman Marcus opponents" being unmasked.

What these "sneaky" people did was point out how unhappy the citizens of Walnut Creek are with the rush to over-develop every somewhat open piece of land in their city. That was a good thing and we should all thank Taubman for spending the money to do this no matter their agenda, hidden or not.

Just points out that ordinary citizens are unable to fight the cronies of city hall without outside funding which levels the playing field.

Thanks Taubman! Let's hope that the "boys" downtown get the message.