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October 1, 2009

Walnut Creek's mayor is right: There were better ways to use $1 million than to spend on the Neiman Marcus battle

One million dollars: That's what rival developers, on both sides of the Neiman Marcus battle, have spent since January in their fight over bringing this upscale retailer to Walnut Creek.

There is little over a month left to go before Walnut Creek voters go to the polls to decide on Measure I, which says "yes" or "no" to the 92,000-square-foot retailer coming to Broadway Plaza.

The anti-Neiman-in-Walnut Creek force, Taubman Centers, has spent $571,042 since January trying to defeat the measure, according to campaign finance documents filed September 24 and reported today by the Contra Costa Times. Taubman Centers had been hoping to defeat Walnut Creek's chances of winning the Neiman Marcus so that the Texas-based retailer would build a store in San Ramon's long-awaited new city center.

Meanwhile, the yes-on-Neiman-in-Walnut Creek force, Macerich Co., which owns Broadway Plaza, has spent $536,272 in support of Measure I. Macerich authored the Measure I initiative, one of the many controversial matters in this big, messy controversy.

Most of the money on both sides has been spent on lawyers, consultants, pollsters and mailings, the Times says.

Mayor Gary Skrel, who supports Measure I, says the amount spent on this battle is "staggering, especially when there are many causes in need of funding," the Times says.

No kidding. I'm sure each side will blame the other for how heated and expensive this battle has become. I just hope that Taubman and its local citizen representatives won't get in the way, via another lawsuit, with this election taking place November 3.

And I hope that each side will accept the results of the election.

I hope Taubman especially gets this message--if the results of the election don't go its way. We need to get this question of whether or not Neiman Marcus is coming to town resolved as soon as possible.

Taubman probably won't get the message. Sigh. Or Grr. The Michigan-based company has a long, nasty history of pouring lots of money into fighting rival retail developments.

24 comments:

Anonymous said...

"I hope Taubman especially gets this message--if the results of the election don't go its way." And if Measure I is voted down? Will the Macerich Co. and their supporters accept the decision of the voters?

Jojo Potato said...

The million dollars didn't just disappear. It went into the economy, to printers, mailing list vendors, post office, staff etc. I say let em spend another million, just be sure to use local vendors.

Anonymous said...

F--k Taubman. What a waste of space and air. Obviously Saks doesn't want to work with him, that's why he has to chase Neiman so voraciously. Also, f--k Alex Mehran, he's the one who's really footing this bill to save face with the Bay Area. He doesn't even live in the east bay -- too provincial -- he's a Pac Heightser.

Anonymous said...

Hopefully, another positive aspect of this campaign will be that the council accepts the fact that there is a lot of frustration among residents All they have to do is look at surveys and they would know there are many who would welcome a more reasonable approach to development.

Anonymous said...

Build it and they will come.

Anonymous said...

Who cares what these corporations spend their money on. It's their money and they certainly wouldn't have spent it WC charity anyway.

If the city council wants to whine about misspent money they need look no further that across the street and the underground garage at the library, $185,000 per spot. Now That is a waste of money that they could have controlled.

Anonymous said...

I saw the "No on I" truck cruising through downtown today. Made me wonder why if the No on I folks really are against traffic and gridlock in Walnut Creek, would they use a gas guzzling truck with a billboard to drive around the city? Which just goes to show that the traffic argument is just a red herring to get votes.

And I thought there were no cruising laws in Walnut Creek. Why is the city not stopping this non sense? I really don't want advertising trucks cruise the streets if they have no other purpose to be out and around than advertising.

Anonymous said...

Anon 7:26,

The No on Walnut Creek crowd are too lazy to do any work or contribute any funds for their cause, so they sold their souls to Taubman.

It's not surprising to see the absurdity of traffic obstruction by Taubman and Friends when they are trying to recue us from the very same thing.

Strange fruit from a scary tree.

Castle Hill Bill said...

Jojo Potato is right. the bucks have been dispersed, much of it in the WC economy. Thanks Macerich & Taubman. However, Mayor Skrel is not being upfront about the reason all this money is being spent. Had the City Council not tried to get around the General Plan and again usurp the will of the people (just like the library)Taubman might not even be in the picture and NM might be starting construction by now. One thing for certain is that not one new parking space for the Broadway Plaza employees will cost anywhere near as much as an underground library parking space nor will a large percentage of the Broadway Plaza parking be earmarked to park/store police and other city vehicles like the new library parking garage. That's right. How much of the new outrageously expensive library parking will be designated for the exclusive use by City Hall & cops? How many do you think Mr. Mayor? How much more of our tax money will the city be paying the library for parking?

Bob said...

Castle Hill Bill,
These are some outrageous accusations from you. I await a response from folks in-the-know. As it stands now, I have heard that City employees are assigned garages where they are allowed to park when they come to work.
By the way, have you got something against our police department? They and their fellow City employees seem sincere and dedicated to me. What is your beef?

Anonymous said...

I've got it. Measure I fails and we move Neiman Marcus into the library building! All problems solved, plenty of parking, how about that RAMPART, no 'general plan' issues.
The 'financially struggling' city won't have the costs of maintaining the library. All solved. Like it?

Also, I read the NO ON I ad in the WC journal, what a joke. I don't care what side of the issue your on.

Anonymous said...

Well Bob, I agree with Castle Hill Bill, on this one. I don't have anything against to police or the city employees, but I have long suspected certain privileges to be passed along to city "management" staff with this project. The shear vigor with which elements inside the city pushed for the extravagances should be clue enough. Lets see when its all said and done how much "reserved" parking in a nice cool underground spot there will be. My bet, more than 10%. We really needed a $1000 per square foot library...oh well people with glass libraries shouldn't throw stones I guess. Funny though that now the city is scaling back the commitment to the actual contents and the furniture for the library. I had always thought that the contents were the point of having a library.

Anonymous said...

I just don't agree with the far reaching effort and spending to install or not a Neiman Marcus outlet in town. Why bother when we have already been told that (some of) the merchandise they plan to carry will not be the high end fashions we expect to find in San Francisco. I certainly am not interested in shopping in a Neiman Fakus. Cut to the chase and just bring in outlets if that's what the community will indeed sponsor. Not to be insulting to the great minds behind this venture, but we will still drive our Mercedes to Union Square to shop and lunch in quality surroundings. Besides, I can have Drew take my picture while I'm sitting with the rest of the ladies who lunch.

Anonymous said...

Interesting how we've all become retail store experts.

Anonymous said...

It is indeed interesting, fortunately by adding a cafe and for rent conference rooms and god knows what other retail needs to the actual library, while at the same time skimping on books, we can all get up to speed on the wonders and goodness of retail. Od that while pumping as much retail, food and booze as possible the poor city still has to cut back on staff like the police, who have been over extended cleaning up the riff raff weekend evenings. Point being if we cant handle what we have got, adding more is not going to "make it better".

Anonymous said...

Who and how was Cindy Silva ever elected? And Kish? Geez, did you ever read what he did?

Anonymous said...

I just got around reading the NO on I add in the Walnut Creek Journal, and I have to say I'm quite appalled by the fact that the RAMPARTWC seem to think that the citizen of Walnut Creek are simply stupid.Or how else can anybody explain that in the same add they claim:

-Merchandise sold at NM would mean fewer sales at Tiffany, Davidson & Licht, Coach and Nordstrom.

- NM will have to attract tens of thousands of new customers from as far away as a 50 mile wide marketing radius.

You can't make both arguments, what is it? Shifting of sales from one store to another by the existing customers or new customer adding traffic? By trying to make both arguments RAMPARTS shows that they can't be trusted.

Shame on you RAMPART for thinking voters are that stupid.

Anonymous said...

RAMPART is funded solely by the Taubman Corporation whose owner Albert Taubman did federal jail time for price-fixing. The consultant that got him a cushy federal jail cell also is working to get Bernie Madoff a cozy place.

The facade of local citizens opposing Neiman-Marcus is just that. Those so-called concerned local fols have not put a single dime into the effort.

Castle Hill Bill said...

Bob- Cool your jets. I've got nothing against the cops or a beef with city employees. When I was talking about earmarked parking spaces for cops, I meant WCPD patrol cars and other Official WC city vehicles. All you have to do is walk Civic Ave between Main and the entrance to Civic Park and see how many police and city vehicles are parked on the street in (what some used to be) metered spaces. Then look inside the police dept garage and see how there is no more room for any more vehicles. You don't think that Parness never mentioned it to city staff? You don't think the last city council didn't notice that? You don't think that didn't cross their minds when they approved the new library plans with lots of $180K parking spaces? I am not backtracking from my assertion that much of the new library parking will be used by city hall. As far as what kind of parking perks cops and city employees get, I can only guess that it's better than what food servers on Main St get.

Anonymous said...

Hey 7:05pm, if you're appalled by the No on I campaign then in all fairness you should be appalled by the yes on I campaign. Their "Like a Good Neighbor" brochure arrived today announcing "Broadway Plaza wants to replace the vacant David M. Brian store with Neiman Marcus". Well that sounds pretty reasonable...there are just a few details that are omitted. They fail to mention that David M's will be torn down along with 3 other stores at the Plaza and the existing parking lot will be built over. Throughout this campaign Broadway Plaza has downplayed the size and visual impact of their plan. After all, "they'll only be half the size of Nordstroms". When Nordstroms was built there was room, now we're crowded and a store half the size of Nordstroms will negatively impact parking and traffic. Let Neiman Marcus move into the vacant David M's, it would be great to have a nice store in that spot.

Anonymous said...

Tear down that empty David M. store. It's ugly. That parking lot is useless also as it's all valet.

City of WC employee said...

As far as city parking, the PD takes up one space on N. Main in front of city hall. That's for the Watch Commander who's office is on that side of the building. All the other PD vehicles are parked in the garage, and there is barely enough room for all of them. If the City of WC ever had the wits to expand its police force (hasn't been done with any significance in 25 yrs) and had to add to its fleet, then finding a place for the extra PD cars would be an issue.

As far as city employee parking, the city provides free parking for all employees who have a choice of the N. Locust St. garage or the Broadway garage.

Anonymous said...

Please Vote Yes on Measure I!

Anonymous said...

Please vote for Measure "I" cause it would really help keep us up sh"I"t creek without a paddle.