Monday, February 5, 2007

Oro Valley Marketplace

Following is my letter from the Jan 31, 2007 Explorer News.

Oro Valley residents deserve better.

I was proud to have been part of a group of concerned Oro Valley citizens in forming our organization Stop Oro Valley Outrageous Giveaways, known as SOVOG. Our purpose was to allow the citizens of our community to vote whether or not they believed Vestar, a Phoenix-based commercial developer, should receive an incentive in the amount of $23.2 million of our future sales tax revenue, by developing the 114-acre parcel at the southwest corner of Oracle and Tangerine roads. After four court cases, we achieved our goal.

Although we were quite concerned that Vestar could not, or would not divulge any of their prospective tenants, we were assured the development would be “unique” and something to make Oro Valley citizens proud to have in their community. SOVOG attempted, as best we could, to caution our neighbors we were buying a “pig in a poke.”

Sadly, (from our perspective), Vestar convinced enough of the voters they were going to get a marvelous shopping mall with retailers not found anywhere around here. Within the last week Vestar (finally) announced their tenants for Phase 1. None in the SOVOG group was surprised by the list. Disappointed? Yes. Chagrined? Yes. Outraged? Yes; but not surprised.

What are we getting for our $23.2 million? How about a 175,000 square-foot Wal-Mart Supercenter? Sure, there are those among us who will be happy to save some money, as Wal-Mart is well known to offer low prices because of their buying power from overseas vendors. Who does Wal-Mart compete against? If you said Target, Home Depot, Office Max, Ross and just about every single retailer presently serving Oro Valley, you’d be correct.

What happens when you spend your money at Wal-Mart, or any of the other retailers Vestar has brought in, including Best Buy, Cost Plus, Linens & Things, Petco or Danny’s Car Wash? The chances are you’re not spending it at any of the retailers who have been serving Oro Valley, in many cases, for 10 years or more. And, how about this? For every $10,000 spent at our existing retailers, Oro Valley gets $200 in sales tax. But, buy your pet supplies at Petco, not Petsmart or your computer at Best Buy, not Target or Office Max or Radio Shack or anything at Wal-Mart, and Vestar pockets $90 of the $200 tax.

The term for this lost business from our existing retailers to those coming to Vestar’s “ill-conceived” Marketplace is known as “cannibalism.” How much of the business will be cannibalized has not been determined. However, unfortunately, it will be too much, and therefore, who gains, and who loses?

The answer is easy. Vestar gains! The losers are our existing retailers, our town and we, the taxpayers, who got “snookered” in by Vestar and certain members of the council who could not see the ramifications of their actions.

Try and remember this come the next election in the spring of 2008.

Art Segal,
Oro Valley


Phil Richardson said...

Finally! Oro Valley had a medium that EVERYONE can use.
Thanks to you and the crew that put this thing together.

Phil Richardson said...

The most recent revelations by Vestar Development and the majority of the Oro Valley Town Council concerning Oro Valley Marketplace must be a searing disappointment to those who were swayed by the promise of a "unique shopping experience." Is there anyone among those who were swayed by talk of another "Encantada" framed in a "Scottsdale-like" setting who does not feel betrayed?

Does anyone still believe that thousands of new shoppers will drive past the scores of big box stores and fast-food establishments serving a million shoppers south of Oro Valley to make their way to Tangerine Road and thereby generate a sudden $88 million dollars?
Between Oracle Crossings and Oro Valley Marketplace, the Town of Oro Valley has agreed to allow over 40-million dollars of sales tax revenues to be retained by developers and not paid into the Town's Treasury.

The result will bring hardship to current retailers, discourage many others from coming to do business and only deepen the shortfall in revenues, that residents are already being asked to relieve by suffering a greater tax burden.

artmarth said...

Letters to The Explorer for Feb. 7

Have Wal-Mart pay for it all

OK, I admit I was an unabashed backer of the effort to Save Oro Valley from Outrageous Giveaways (SOVOG) last spring. I believed in the town’s original description, “a Community of Excellence.” I shamelessly walked the streets, ringing doorbells, asking my neighbors to vote against giving tax breaks to a big developer in order to lure business to our town.

Our committee was up against big money — the kind that can afford to inundate our mailboxes with glitzy multi-color brochures promising “upscale boutiques,” “fine restaurants” and a movie theater. We relied on ourselves and photocopied stuff put together in each other’s living rooms.

Last week, I got a lot of e-mail from people who remember my dedication to SOVOG. Some e-mails were in commiseration over the arrival of yet another Wal-Mart (in the new Oro Valley Marketplace). Others vowed to keep fighting back. One e-mail stands out among them all. It was from someone I don’t know, but the theme was hard to ignore: You lost. We won. Get over it!

It made me realize how deluded I had been to believe Oro Valley was really dedicated to excellence. I mean, how many towns of our size qualify for not one Wal-Mart, but two? How fortunate we are to have this retail behemoth ready and willing to donate $250,000 to Oro Valley’s proposed music pavilion — a “desperately-needed” performance center. Think of what $250,000 represents to this retail monster, bigger than most countries. It’s pocket change!

Since I am becoming reconciled to living in an area noted not for excellence but for big box stores, I wonder why we shouldn’t allow those businesses to really contribute to our community. After giving Vestar those tax breaks for the Oro Valley Marketplace, why not give Wal-Mart the opportunity to pay the whole bill for a performing arts space? We could name it the Wal-Mart Performing Arts Center. Has a nice ring, doesn’t it? A town of excellence indeed!

Gabrielle Strandquist,
Oro Valley

artmarth said...

Letters to the editor for Feb. 7

Feeling shortchanged in Oro Valley

The letter to the editor of The Explorer on Jan. 31 by Art Segal, when compared side by side with the guest opinion from David Malin, Vestar spokesperson, certainly justifies SOVOG’s concerns. It appears Oro Valley knows how to overpay for mediocrity, while jeopardizing our future revenue!

The city’s lack of negotiation skills and expectations is illustrated in Malin’s recent opinion outlining the problems of acquiring top end stores that residence wanted, then settling on the world’s largest retailer, who already has retail space close to town. There definitely isn’t anything unique, and most importantly, it looks like the Vestar decision has subsidized $23.2 million of our future sales tax revenue for 114 acres of retail space which will cannibalize from our existing retailers.

It is quite troublesome that Vestar will pocket $23.2 million of our town’s revenue by competing directly with existing businesses. This is one of several ill-conceived council decisions that will cost the residents in the long run.

As a longtime Oro Valley resident, it is disheartening to look at the Skyline and Campbell La Encantada retail site knowing something unique and attractive could have been built here. On top of it, that developer, Westcor, provided the road improvement! Instead the only option provided by Oro Valley shaping our future was Vestar, Wal-Mart, and, most recently, a 2-percent utility tax on the citizens to pick up the budget shortfall.

I, and many others feel we certainly got “shortchanged” by our officials who were elected to serve their constituents. One must wonder whose priorities they are serving.

Don Milliken,
Oro Valley

Kathy Pastryk said...

Congratulations, Guys, you are providing on a super service to OV. This blogspace will be a meeting place for an exchange of ideas. Ideas DO occur to us every day -- not just once a week. We shouldn't have to rely on The Explorer to know what people in OV are saying...

One of the things that everybody is talking about -- the arrival of Wal-Mart -- is no surprise to anyone who is familiar with Vestar's malls up north. Vestar and Wal-Mart are like hand in glove. Bobbsey twins. Abercrombie & Fitch -- but no, wait, those names represent quality. Vestar and Wal-Mart do not. What a shame for OV...

There is something to be said for quality.

My husband bought an alarm clock that didn't work. After being late for a couple of early appointments, he said, "OK, I'll get rid of it. It's a piece of junk made in Tinambacan or some place.

I agreed, "It's trash," I sighed.
"Don't buy any more foreign cheapies."

"But I had a coupon," he explained.

So he went out and bought another one, and guess what? First of all, it was a struggle to set it.
"Oh, brother," I said, "Where did this one come from? Wal-Mart?"

Well, no, actually it came from the corner pharmacy, "But it was on sale and there was a rebate."

It sounded it's alarm whenever it felt like it, like at 5:00AM. "This has got to go," I said. "Not only was it undependable, but it sounded like someone had stepped on the cat's tail.

After repeated rude awakenings, he agreed.

I wonder where the next one will come from.

There are some things in life that I try to avoid. Rude awakenings is one of them.

In general, most of us, I venture to guess, would agree that we shouldn't have to put up with shoddiness -- It's a waste of our hard-earned cash and a waste of time!

I deserve better, you deserve better, and so does Oro Valley.

Yes, there were some who wanted Wal-Mart, but even in David Malin's own poll, the vast majority of residents in Oro Valley asked for a department store, not a big box gargantuan emporium that sells cheapies.

This town prides itself on being a community of excellence. Most of us agree, so let's live up to that slogan and refuse to accept the latest drek that's blown our way!
I, for one, will do my shopping elsewhere. My husband will, too.

Kathy Pastryk

misspat said...

I agree with what Kathy Pastryk
has to say.

artmarth said...

AZ Star Feb,8,2007
To the editor:
When the Oro Valley Marketplace was being discussed and introduced to Oro Valley residents, it was going to be a regional shopping center which would draw people from all over Tucson and throughout the area.
Now I wonder, why would someone come to Oro Valley to go to an Olive Garden? There are already three of them in town. Will Oro Valley's be that much more special?
And how special is a Wal-Mart that it would draw people from the region to shop in Oro Valley? Aren't the several other Wal-Marts in Tucson close enough to their homes to accommodate their unique shopping desires?
And Best Buy? Will the one in Oro Valley have different merchandise to draw people away from the other two in town?
No, Vestar and the Oro Valley Town Council have taken the easy way out. This marketplace will not draw people from other parts of Tucson. It will provide the same old shopping that you can get elsewhere in the city — the super store, the adequate dining and the electronics store.
But we'll certainly be able to see these stores because the council has permitted these places to advertise with whatever disjointed signage they want — signage that homeowners in parts of Catalina Shadows and Rancho Vistoso will be able to see at all times of the day and night because of another special concession Vestar was given by the Town Council.
Vestar has seen that we will now accept mediocrity and lack of originality in enticing stores to come to the Oro Valley Marketplace instead of providing residents with upscale, unique dining and shopping opportunities for Oro Valley residents and others who would like to visit our wonderful corner of Tucson.
If only the Town Council and Vestar had been honest with us and told it like it is: They don't want the Oro Valley Marketplace to be a regional shopping and entertainment area. They just want to keep Oro Valley residents from having to go outside of Oro Valley to shop (probably to help us pay back that $23 million Vestar has been promised).
At least then we would have known what to expect instead of getting our hopes up for a truly inviting new mall.

Devon Sloan
Oro Valley

Richard Furash, MBA said...


Apparently, honesty at the Town Counsel level is not their standard. Perhaps they feel the we just "Can't stand the truth".

CS said...

SOVOG (Stop OV Outrageous Giveaways) lost 42% to 58%(Vestar). All that was needed were 9 percentage pts. to have had SOVOG prevail... I wonder what the outcome would have been if the public knew that there was a very strong possibility a Super Walmart was coming to town.
Oro Valley has lost its soul to greed, poor planning and councils with no vision and with little courage or integrity.