December 9, 2009

Was Walnut Creek's Neiman Marcus gain San Ramon's loss?

Was perusing the Contra Costa Times, and I came across this bit about how the start of construction of San Ramon's "long-awaited" city center project will be put off "a little longer."

"The {San Ramon] City Council voted unanimously Tuesday to extend until 2015 certain portions of its agreement with San Ramon-based Sunset Development for a new civic and retail destination. Construction of the city center was supposed to have already begun, but the slumping economy put a kink in the timeline. Now the first office building may be constructed in 2010, with perhaps an opening in 2012, depending on the economy."

Hmm. Could the loss of Neiman Marcus as a retail anchor have also figured into this new development?

This new city center project, with Sunset Development founder Alex Mehran as a major player, was to be 2 million square feet. And it would feature a new city hall, office space, public plaza, shops, restaurants, hotel, movie theater and housing.

One thing this Times story doesn't mention is that San Ramon really, really wanted a high-en department store, like Neiman Marcus, to come to its new City Center. And Neiman Marcus looked very seriously at the San Ramon proposal--as Neiman Marcus executives disclosed during Walnut Creek city deliberations on the Broadway Plaza project.

But San Ramon's Neiman Marcus hopes stalled when Broadway Plaza expressed interest, and the rest is--we hope--Measure I/mega-millionaire-developer-battle history. And, if you're Neiman Marcus, who are you going to choose? A city with a historically and geographically established downtown and retail center, or a city with no downtown--as of yet.

I don't mean to knock San Ramon. It has a lot of other things going for it, just not a downtown. Also, the construction of a new department store in Broadway Plaza--and it's never been guaranteed to be Neiman Marcus--may be a mixed blessing for Walnut Creek.


Anonymous said...

I agree that Neiman Marcus will be a mixed blessing for WC.

Anonymous said...

As residents of Walnut Creek, we need to peddle back on the superiority routine. Too bad that this superior attitude eminates from city hall.

Pride in where you live is one thing, but we are no better as a city because we "won" the battle to have a Neiman Marcus store.

Every city around us has many things to be proud of and looking down our noses as any other town is childish and ignorant. What kind of example are we setting for our children by acting this way.

We are not perfect. Just look at what overspending because of poor financial in the past five years has done to our current financial situation. I am sure that if you dig under the "glitzy" facade we present to our neighbors there are plenty of other warts to be found.