Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Shopping for Someone to Blame at the GardenWalk

Today's Register covers more than one tragedy. The first is the report that "The Shops at GardenWalk" has defaulted on their sizable loan, and may face foreclosure. Let's face it, no bank wants a shopping center on their hands, so I hope they are able to work out a deal on the payments. I happen to love the GardenWalk, I love the shops, I love the restaurants, and their movie theater has spoiled me for anywhere else. Those who complain about its stark concrete have clearly not been there recently, as the center has grown out of its "new construction" look, and the greenery is filling in beautifully. If you have not visited lately, brave the parking garage (yeah, its disorienting, but its not brain surgery, and they have been working on signage) and go do some last minute Christmas shopping with deeply discounted quality merch and (sadly) no crowds.

The second great tragedy of this story was that the Register chose to interview Coucilwoman and wine bar owner Lucille Kring of all people for feedback. As usual, Lucille plays the blame game, laying the fault for her poor business decisions on the shoulders of the GardenWalk. Councilwoman Kring claims the management of the center somehow tricked her into signing a lease for a bad location. Once again, Lucille fails to think ahead, regrets a poor choice, and then blames others to excuse herself. Lucille, the reason your business is failing has nothing to do with the center you are in. Before opening a wine bar, or any other endeavor in the hospitality industry, one should actually LIKE people, and want to welcome them. Abrasively insisting that others concede to your wishes, whether it is what they want to do or not, does not make for good public policy, and it sure doesn't sell wine.  "If we had a crystal ball, we wouldn't have signed the lease", she says. Well, lots of folks are successful in business, without the use of crystal balls. We use a little something called common sense. The people of this town did not need a crystal ball to see that the SunCal deal, which benefitted Lucille's best developer-buddy while shafting the rest of the city, was a bad idea. Had we gone with the unholy trinity of Kring, Hernandez, and Galloway, we would have sacrificed the potential of a TOT generating property, and been left with a half-finished construction project, abandoned when SunCal went under. But run into her today, and she will tell you she never would have voted for that project (then why did she?) and that she had a compromise. Well the time to demand a compromise from a developer is BEFORE you approve their ill-conceived project, and the time to negotiate a better space in a center is BEFORE you sign the lease!

Lucille's judgement is not to be trusted, but it has nothing to do with an otherwise delightful shopping center.

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