Mendocino Crossings

Do you see what I see?


From Janie Sheppard
Mendocino County

Jeff Adams, the man on the ground for DDR (Developers Diversified Realty, aka, Mega Mall at the old Masonite site) resurfaced recently.  In a January 13, 2009 letter he informed the Governor that DDR intended to create a project that we could be proud of.  Looks like DDR isn’t going away any time soon.  I wonder why not when I contemplate what’s happening locally and on the national scene.  Why doesn’t DDR see what I see?

I see:  Lead article in the New York Times Sunday (2/1/09) Business Section, entitled Our Love Affair With Malls Is on the Rocks.  In the article, the reporter points to the nation’s bad habit of overspending as one of two causes of the economic crisis, the other cause being “mortgage-related financial insanity.”  But, the reporter informs us, because “personal consumption” accounts for 70 percent of the American economy, if we don’t spend, we don’t recover.  The reporter analogizes thusly:  “[T]he mall we married has become the toxic spouse we can’t quit . . ..”  So, why marry the mall?  If we can make DDR go away, we wouldn’t have to marry it and we wouldn’t end up paying alimony if things didn’t work out.  Seems obvious, doesn’t it?

I see:  Windsor Town Green, a mixed retail/housing development between Healdsburg and Santa Rosa, isn’t doing well.  When that development first opened, Laura Fogg and I visited it, describing what we saw  in an article published in the Ukiah Daily Journal (December 11, 2005).  Three years later, I revisited the area to see how it was faring in the face of the current economic downturn, depression, recession, whatever you want to call it.  I found lots of empty storefronts.  Why would DDR’s project, Mendocino Crossings, be different?

I see:  The localization movement is growing.  More and more people don’t like the idea of the money they spend going to distant corporate headquarters, never to be reinvested in Mendocino County.  Local shops reported good holiday sales while big chain stores mostly reported their sales were poor to awful.  We could continue our personal consumption without acquiring Mendocino Crossings, a toxic spouse.  So far as I know, it’s not even immoral to spend money locally . . .

So:  DDR’s matchmakers urge us to get married.  I say the odds are so against such a marriage working out that we should call off the romance.  Jeff Adams seems like a nice guy.  We could remain friends.


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