The Dalidio property's saga continues

jtarica@thetribunenews.comAugust 17, 2013 

Show yourself.

That’s about all I have to say to whoever’s had a hand in undoing the retail fabric of the latest Dalidio Ranch proposal, which is living up to every bit of the property’s history of histrionics.

When we first heard word of the Clint Pearce-Gary Grossman partnership less than a month ago, I was happy to see them presenting a mixed-use project that on its face seemed to have a greater chance of succeeding than Ernie Dalidio’s previous incarnations.

Heavy on workforce housing and featuring a high-tech office park, open space and agriculture uses, the new project shifted the emphasis away from retail, although the plan still included some 200,000 square feet of shops and restaurants.

Now, not even four weeks later, we’ve gone from an ambitious but balanced plan guided by a pair of prominent developers with seemingly complementary skills to an increasingly tangled vision, only one developer and far more questions than answers.

Such is the position in which the project finds itself following Clint Pearce’s exit last week.

The Madonna Enterprises president pulled out of the project, saying Tuesday that he decided it was more than he or his company can handle given their other responsibilities, and all I can ask is, why didn’t you figure that out before getting our hopes up with that pretty little artist’s rendering?

Said erstwhile partner Gary Grossman, “Clint just doesn’t really want to deal with how much energy (it’s) going to take. ...There is nothing easy about this.”

That’s true and always has been.

There was nothing easy about it 20 years ago. There was nothing easy about it 10 years ago. There was nothing easy about it two months ago before the developers shared the news of what looks more and more like yet another unmagic carpet ride.

We presumed that the developers knew that and were prepared for whatever controversies lay ahead.

We were hoping that, with the Madonna name behind him, Pearce would be able to do what Ernie Dalidio couldn’t.

However the plans change, most of us aren’t going to be buying a home there. But we would love to shop there, maybe eat there and certainly take advantage of a new overpass on Prado Road.

So it’s discouraging to see the threads of this partnership unravel so quickly, with very little discussion of why.

Which leads me back to the question: Who’s pulling the string?

What caused Pearce to suddenly work his loom in reverse?

Were the questions over big-name retailers like Macy’s or Nordstrom Rack just a miscommunication between Pearce and Grossman?

And even if they were, what made Pearce refocus the retail attention on brands that could never be included because, well, they were already here? (OK, maybe they were only examples, but they were uninspired ones.)

Finally, what caused him to leap off the rug altogether, before it could even really take shape and, presumably, before it could be completely pulled out from under him?

I don’t know, but everything about the rapid twists and turns suggest outside interference.

Obviously, if I were the accusing sort (and I am), I’d point my finger at the most logical suspect: downtown.

But just like two weeks ago, no one from that conveniently quiet power base is talking, and for some reason, both Pearce and Grossman are speaking rather nonspecifically when explaining the reasoning on their end.

To his credit, Grossman is forging ahead, and I did like how now as a party of one, he’s put the department store option back on the table.

“My eyes are open and my ears are open, and I’m trying to do exactly what I should be doing, which is listening to the public and listening to the council and staff and entertaining what demand is out there,” Grossman said last week.

Good, keep doing that. Listen to the public.

Don’t listen to the naysayers, but if you do hear from them, tell them to quit bending your ear and make their case publicly.

Joe Tarica is the presentation editor for The Tribune. Reach him at jtarica@thetribunenews.com or on Twitter @joetarica.

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