Howard Hughes Issues Statement on Elk Grove Petition Drive Seeking to Reenact Development Agreement

November 14, 2016 |  

In light of the petition drive under way in Elk Grove over the last several days, the owner of the unfinished Outlet Collection at Elk Grove issued a statement regarding the efforts to reenact a development agreement with the City of Elk Grove.

The petition drive, whose backers are not known, is seeking to reverse a unanimous vote by the Elk Grove City Council that released the Howard Hughes Company (HHC), owner of the shopping center, from a longstanding development agreement. By releasing them from the contract, HHC was able to pursue the sale of 36-acres to the Wilton Rancheria for a proposed $400 million casino resort.

In the statement issued by the Sacramento-based public relations firm of Stutzman Public Affairs, HHC said the following:

"The casino resort will be an ideal complement to the retail, dining and entertainment offerings of The Outlet Collection at Elk Grove and a highly-valuable asset to the local economy. We believe it is essential for continuing our leasing momentum as well as serving as a critical demand generator, bringing thousands of additional visitors to the destination year-round. We consider the casino resort, spa and convention center as vitally important for both The Outlet Collection and for the entire Elk Grove community, creating new jobs and spurring growth in the southern sector.

The Howard Hughes Corporation is extremely concerned that an outside organization has hired paid workers that are not part of the community who are engaged in gathering petition signatures with scare tactics intended to block a project that is a crucial catalyst for growth for Elk Grove and The Outlet Collection. We will work closely with local  stakeholders, the city and others to ensure that Elk Grove’s future rests with those best suited to lead and serve the community’s long-term interests."

If the petition drive succeeds in placing the matter up for a popular vote, and should Elk Grove voters approve the proposal, it would reenact the development agreement between the City and HHC. Of greater significance, if reenacted, it is believed that the Wilton Rancheria could not purchase the parcel as it would have title encumbrances which are not permitted under Federal regulations for Indian casinos. 

In a separate development, California Assembly Member Jim Cooper (D - Elk Grove) issued a statement through the Sacramento-based advocacy group Region Business, criticizing the petition drive and reiterating his support. Cooper was a member of the Elk Grove City Council that approved Elk Grove Promenade project, as the shopping center was previously known, over 10 years ago. 

“The people of Elk Grove have been waiting for eight years to see this blighted site turned into something positive for the community,” Cooper said. “They want to see this mall built, see it create jobs and drive economic growth for the region. It is a goal shared by all of us who care about the future of Elk Grove and the Sacramento region.”    

Wood, who has been at the forefront of criticizing the efforts, has also hired sign-wavers to be positioned near signature gatherers and send out a robo call this afternoon to Elk Grove voters. 

 “They are coming from out of town, taking secret money and lying to voters," Wood said. "I have one question for them: Why do they want to kill this mall?”

Employees of the petition drive are employed by Arnol Petition Services, who has not returned calls seeking comment on their activities or who is their client. One of the gatherers told Elk Grove News yesterday they have already secured 4,000 signatures. 

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