What do you think about how Neiman Marcus is taking shape?
Rounding one of our downtown Walnut Creek corners recently, my eyes were suddenly filled with the sight of it. That would be the new Neiman Marcus store that is under construction and due to open next spring.
I'm always in downtown but there was something about the latest stage of construction of this 92,000-square foot luxury department store that made me stop and immediately think; "Wow. It's big!"
I'll leave it at that, because as we all know the effort to bring Neiman Marcus to Broadway Plaza was a mighty touchy subject here in town.
Remember Measure I? Before we had the contentious City Council election this past fall, we had the Measure I special election in the fall of 2009. It was part of a long, ugly and costly civic debate. There were lawsuits filed by longtime slow-growth advocates and annoying petition gatherers--paid for by a rival developer opposing Neiman Marcus in Walnut Creek--stopping us outside supermarkets.
As I reported back in 2009, developers on both sides of the debate about Neiman Marcus and Measure I spent around $2 million combined on their campaigns to sway Walnut Creek voters. Broadway Mall owner Macerich spent around $1.3 million on the Yes on I campaign, while Taubman Centers, which owns Concord's Sunvalley Mall and had hoped to develop a Neiman Marcus in San Ramon, spent $700,000.
In the end, 71 percent of Walnut Creek voters gave Measure I--and Neiman Marcus--a resounding yes, and the project was able to go forward.
Of course, the building is not finished yet. It will have lovely public art components, and it's hard to judge its final look and how it will fit into this valuable corner of downtown at Main Street and Mt. Diablo Boulevard.
Meanwhile, in a newly released Long Range Financial Plan for 2010-2018, the city says it expects sales tax revenues to increase 4 percent annually in the 2012-13 fiscal year and to see additional revenues coming in from Neiman Marcus.