Former Elk Grove Mayor Gary Davis Calls out Howard Hughes Company, Or is He?

July 13, 2017 |

What a difference a year makes, or so it would seem.

During the summer of 2016, then Elk Grove Mayor Gary Davis expressed glee when a sign erected on the grounds of the unfinished Outlet Collection at Elk Grove proclaiming the long languishing shopping center was coming in 2017.

With more than half 2017 in our rear view mirror, other than the shopping center's owner, the Howard Hughes Company, selling off a portion of the property to the Wilton Rancheria for their proposed $400-million casino resort, there has been no visible or reported activity regarding the resumption of construction. 

As with last summer, HHC has recently installed a new sign on the site saying that the facility will open in the fall of 2018.  

This time around, former Mayor and now private citizen Gary Davis took to social media on Wednesday, July 12 and called out HHC. In his commentary Davis noted the sign "magically appeared" and said "It is becoming increasingly clear that Howard Hughes Corporation doesn't have what it takes to finish the job. Elk Grove deserves better than this. #Howard Hughes Corporation get it done!"

Interestingly, current Elk Grove Mayor and Davis protege Steve Ly also commented on the installation of the sign at the moribund facility on Tuesday, July 11. In his remarks to the Elk Grove-South County Democratic Club, Ly took the installation of the sign as indicator progress was being made towards opening the shopping center.

Ly did acknowledge that he has been unsuccessful in his efforts to schedule a meeting with HHC to discuss their timetable.

For those who have followed the long and tortured history of the facility first named the Lent Ranch Mall, then the Elk Grove Promenade, and now the Outlet Collection at Elk Grove, Davis' new-found indignation is rich with irony.

As noted, last year he was cheerleader in chief when the first sign went up, but now he is apparently striking a different chord. For those who have followed Davis' various proclamations through the years will undoubtedly understand the pattern.

Perhaps the greatest irony is the Davis' protege, Mayor Ly, is undercutting, maybe inadvertently, what minimal credibility Davis has left. 

At his Tuesday night engagement, Ly undermined his mentor's credibility in discussing the relocation of Fremont, Calif-based NRC Manufacturing to Elk Grove. When Davis announced the recruitment of NRC during his March 2016 State of the City address, he made it appear as a done deal.

In his comments, Ly noted that at the time of Davis' announcement the two parties were still in "talks" and there was no guarantee of their relocation. Although he did not come right out and say the deal was dead, it was revealed that NRC was requesting an economic incentive from the City, read cash, which Ly characterized as unfeasible. 

Along with the NRC announcement, Davis had a propensity as Mayor to make grandiose promises. Some of his more infamous ones included a world-class aquatics center complete with a 10-meter diving platform that would attract Olympic time trials, and of course the $100 million dollar soccer stadium and fields that would help the city, with the assistance of former California Assembly Speaker Fabian Nunez, land a Major League Soccer franchise. 

Of course, Davis should never be, as George W. Bush might say, misunderestimated, and this calling out of HHC could be feigning indignation for some other political or personal economic purpose. Given the legislative advocacy Davis has endeavored for the Wilton Rancheria, for all we know this could be a ruse leading up to a statement, which he could take credit for, that HHC is selling the entire development to the tribe or something to that effect. 

In the meantime, we will see if this new sign and the 2018 opening date crumble in the winds of economic uncertainty facing brick and mortar retailers like the one installed last year. 

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1 comment

D.J. Blutarsky said...

Translation: HHC, sell your land to Wilton Rancheria so we can get rich!

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