What’s the Real Reason Neiman Marcus is Pulling Out of Walnut Creek?

Last night, the Walnut Creek City Council decided to repeal its September zoning and height changes to allow a 107,000-square-foot Neiman Marcus to go up in Broadway Plaza, the Contra Costa Times reports

Macerich Co., which owns Broadway Plaza, asked the council to repeal its decision and promises to return with a new, improved plan for this upscale department store to come to Walnut Creek. Macerich said it wanted to adjust the project in response to a pending lawsuit, a referendum petition, and concerns raised by people in the community about the project’s size and impact on downtown parking.

But will Macerich do this? Can it deliver on this promise? I wonder if this is some kind of face-saving move on the part of Macerich and of Neiman Marcus, which isn’t doing so well financially.

I recently cited a news report from the Wall Street Journal, showing that Neiman Marcus reported an 84 percent decline in profit for its fiscal first quarter [ending November 1] as even wealthier shoppers cut back on spending.”

The Journal added: “Neiman said it expects retail demand and revenue to remain weak ‘for an extended period of time’ and said it sees higher markdowns putting pressure on margins in its fiscal second quarter.” According to another report, from Reuters, the Texas-based retailer, while not planning to close stores in the face of these financial losses, has decided to put major and minor remodel plans on hold.

Meanwhile, another upscale retailer, of which Walnut Creek is very proud to have in its downtown portfolio, is also hurting. That same Wall Street Journal story says that jewelry retailer Tiffany & Co. “is offering voluntary retirement packages to 800 U.S. employees after profit slumped 57 percent in its latest quarter.”

Anyway, I wonder if Macerich and the city are being upfront about the real reason Neiman Marcus is pulling out–at least for now, as they say.

I also wonder if Walnut Creek city officials are worried that their up until recently glittery downtown retail scene (and taxable sales) will be taking a huge hit this holiday season and in the ongoing recession. If any Macerich or Walnut Creek City officials want to to put in their two cents, or if anyone else out there has any theories, I’d love to hear.

3 thoughts on “What’s the Real Reason Neiman Marcus is Pulling Out of Walnut Creek?

  1. Neiman marcus will come to WC and the drop in profits has nothing to do with it. the people opposing the store are old fuddie duddies. The city’s got to tchange and progress. it cant be a small town anymore. Get over it. Neiman Marcus will be good for WalntuCDreek.


  2. Soccer Mom makes a good point. Luxury retailers are failing. No one has the money to spend at places like Needless Markup. The company is in trouble and doesn’t have money to build a new store any time in the near future and is using this caring about what the community thinks as an excuse.


  3. I guess I am an old fuddie duddie and quite frankly if expecting all developers in Walnut Creek have to adhere to the same rules, then I am proud of the title. The issue of Neiman Marcus coming to Walnut Creek is not about the store itself….it is about everyone playing by the same rules when it comes to development. The rules were made by the Council with years of input from the citizens and many of those same citizens were outraged when suddenly the rules were changed to accommodate one retailer thereby setting a bad precedent for future downtown development. Fortunately, whether it is financial or whether Macerich truly is listening to the citizens after extensive polling, they will be coming back to the Council with a revised plan sometime next year. This is how democracy works. To Anonymous #1: you got it right “Neiman Marcus will be good for Walnut Creek”. As the first plans stood, “Walnut Creek will be good for Neiman Marcus” was the result.Also #1, talk and listen to people all over Walnut Creek and you will find that very few are truly “old fuddie duddies” hence the ease with which the petition drive gathered so many signatures in such a short period of time. Citizens who care about the future of the town in which they have chosen to live come in all age groups. It is a good thing when people care enough to rise up in opposition to decisions with which they disagree.


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