As Elk Grove Turns 16 is City, Howard Hughes Playing Blanche Dubois to Wilton Rancheria?

July 1, 2016 | Today, Elk Grove celebrates its 16th anniversary as a California charter city. During that time, there have been pl...

July 1, 2016 |

Today, Elk Grove celebrates its 16th anniversary as a California charter city. During that time, there have been plenty of peaks and valleys, but one constant, at least for the last eight years, has been the unfinished mall now known as the Outlet Collection at Elk Grove that haunts the City.

Like an unwanted guest who lingers for hours after the party ends, the unfinished mall stands as a reminder of a time when shopping malls were relevant. With the advent of internet shopping and smart phone apps that can beckon any good to your door, malls have lost their grip on consumers.   

The Outlet Collection, known in its previous incarnations as the Lent Ranch Mall and the Elk Grove Promenade, was originally conceived of over 20 years ago. Following Elk Grove's 2000 incorporation and environmental lawsuits, ground broke on what was supposed to be a major source of sales tax revenue over eight years ago.

As we have seen over that span of time, that just has not materialized. Oh sure, we have had all sorts of promises made from the dais of the Elk Grove City Council assuring us that its opening was just around the corner all to no avail. 
Playing Blanche Dubois is the Elk Grove City
Council, and their understudy is the Howard Hughes

And if truth be known, did we actually think five city council members from some milquetoast podunk Central Valley municipality could light a fire under the pants of a Bill Ackman and  a publicly traded multi-billion dollar real estate development corporation? Of course not - they could care less if the Mayor placed ads in the Houston Business Journal or how much council members and city staff plead their case.

At this point in time, however, there is reason to believe that construction on the Ghost Mall could actually resume sometime in the next couple years. That hope comes from the Wilton Rancheria's plans to build a $400 million casino resort on a portion of the shopping center's parcel.

After all the supposed efforts of economic development directors Darrel Doan and his predecessor to bring tenants to the mall by attending trade shows in San Diego and Las Vegas, when development starts at the Outlet Collection, it will be because the City of Elk Grove and Howard Hughes will have played Blanche Dubois to the Wilton Rancheria and big Las Vegas money.

In the end, should the Wilton Racheria tribe receive approval for its casino, for better or worse, that will be the reason development restarts in the special planning area. If that is the case, the City of Elk Grove and the Howard Hughes Corporation will have been shown themselves to be nothing more than broken down former debutante Southern belle's that will have come to rely "on the kindness of strangers." 


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Capt. Benjamin Willard said...

Elk Grove - "Proud Heritage, Bright Future".

Ironic, is it not if you think about it. Elk Grove's "heritage" was cowboys forcing Miwok's off the land. Fast forward and now it's "future" is dependent on the Miwok's bailing out the five cowboys on our city council.

I just wonder how long before we start seeing campaign contributions to the cowboys?

Ace of Spades said...

What they need, and what they have needed all along are more rooftops. During the height of the boom, the original mall developer was betting on (1) the city getting approval of the SOI to expand its boundary by 8,000 acres and convert farmland to rooftops; (2) the building boom to continue; and (3) beating Delta Shores to the punch. Just as in baseball, three strikes and you are out!

But just as in sports, it takes time to rebuild a team. The same three factors above are still necessary, but (3), Delta Shores throws a wildcard into the equation. Can both projects co-exist? Delta Shores has the advantage of light rail, I-5 access (as opposed to the 'working class' 99 freeway), and closer proximity to the revitalized downtown. I would look for Delta Shores to get the cream of the crop retailers (relatively speaking of course-this ain't Roseville, Davis, or Folsom), and the Grove to get second and third-tier tenants. Just look at the new plans for the corners of Promenade and Kammerer for a preview: drive-thru's galore. Now throw in a casino, half-a-mall, and our version of the twin towers-the Suburban propane tanks as a backdrop, and you have just another interchange stop along Highway 99 between Bakersfield and Yuba City-yawn!

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