City Hall Dabbling in Smoke and Mirrors?

By Steven M. Lee | August 20, 2018 |

In last Friday’s edition of the Elk Grove Citizen, Mayor Steve Ly took sole credit for getting the new Costco built. The store is currently under construction at the corner of Elk Grove Blvd and Bruceville Road. Interestingly, the article stated that the project was nearly lost to the new I-5 shopping development, Delta Shores, located just north of Elk Grove.

According to Ly, the Elk Grove site was “a dead deal” before he stepped in to save it. The Costco project was approved by both the planning commission and the city council in May 2016, months before he was elected mayor.

The city was excited about the huge tax revenues a Costco would bring to the city, yet why is it that the city admittedly let the “deal die” in the first place? The Bruceville site has been penciled in for Costco for over 10 years.

Who’s responsible allowing this cash-cow to die off without even a whimper?

Is this person still employed by the city?

If so, why?

Back on May 5, 2016, Costco reps unveiled their project to the planning commission and the public. Late into that meeting, I approached Jennifer Murillo, Director of Real Estate Development for Costco, and privately inquired as to why she was not considering our unfinished mall site for their big box store rather than the off the freeway site at Bruceville. Many citizens who spoke that night had the same question. 

Murillo looked perplexed and inquired as to where this mall site was located. She said that she hadn’t even been informed by city officials about the presence of our mall site. I explained to Murillo it was along the highway, easily visible to highway traffic with a brand new six-lane overpass and zoned for commercial and specifically big box facilities. She said she knew nothing about the mall site. I informed her it was just two exits south of city hall. She again claimed to know nothing of it.

Wouldn’t a Costco be better situated near the highway, with better ingress/egress than our main city artery that is already severely impacted with our daily commuter traffic?

Why wouldn’t our city officials make the Costco reps aware of this site?

Wouldn’t having the Costco at the ghost mall site kick-start the leasing agreements for the mall to the point that the mall could reasonably be under construction right now had the city promoted the mall site to Costco?

It seems from the mayor’s comments that Costco was looking to place their store in the Delta Shores mall site rather than in our neighborhood. We have a mall site Costco could build on if they preferred, if they had known of it.

What exactly is going on at city hall?

The city says they are trying so hard to get Howard Hughes Corp to promote the site and push for rebooting construction at the site. A couple of years ago, then-Mayor Gary Davis told the media he was “going it light a fire under Howard Hughes” to get the mall construction back on track. I guess Mayor Davis overestimated his power to force a multi-million dollar conglomerate to move on his command. My bet is that Mayor Ly will have the same result. At one point Mayor Ly indicated that Howard Hughes wouldn’t even return his calls. Now that he’s up for reelection, it seems he’s in hardball negotiations with Hughes Corp. Go figure. It all seems like smoke and mirrors at city hall yet again.

My bet is that the mall will never be built. People are shopping online, that is the future of shopping….heck, it’s the present. Malls are becoming obsolete. Don’t believe it? Check out the easy parking available at Arden Fair these days, as well as the pristine new Delta Shores.

Let’s hope for the best.

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D.J. Blutarsky said...

Mr. Lee, thank you for the stroll down memory lane. Our tap-dancing 'leaders' prefer to create new headlines each day as they run from their history. But all 10 of the EGN readers have pretty good memories, and it is nice when things are put in the proper historical context once in awhile.

My guess is the city got greedy. They wanted to subsidize Costco on the Pappas property in town because as one of the other 10 EGN readers noted recently, Pappas is the "father of our city" and needed Costco to help lease his strip center. This in turn kept the option open for a mall as well--more sales tax if you get both! Then for a trifecta, throw in the casino and you get cash pouring in from all sides!

The old adage, be careful what you ask for, will be at play here. When Costco and Pappas's strip center opens, watch that taxpayer-funded signal in front of the center jam up the east-bound traffic up to the Bruceville intersection; and the left turn lane going into the center back up up the fast lane of west-bound EG Blvd traffic heading towards Bruceville.

We're in the money.....

Capt. Benjamin Willard said...

If I am not mistaken, was it not Mr. Davis who spent taxpayer money in the Houston Business Journal saying, if I am not mistaken, 'Don't mess with Elk Grove".

Given Mr. Davis' propensity for all things Lone Star State - recall his fixation on the soccer stadium in Frisco, Texas - perhaps he is hoping to become a character in the next Larry McMurtry or Cormac McCarthy novel.

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