Monday, May 01, 2006

Beleaguered Blackhawk Plaza Tries Again

Blackhawk Plaza recently announced the signed lease to bring the tony Draeger's Market to the beleaguered mall.
See press release
This is the second time this shopping center has tried an upscale grocery store. You may remember Blackhawk Market, which opened in the early 90s with splashy gold shopping carts that came with mobile phones. However, the practical Safeway soon opened across the street and drove Blackhawk Market out of business. Seems that the rich did not get that way by spending money frivolously on fruits and vegetables. However, Draeger's does have the name and reputation to be able to pull off a successful store. In addition, the cooking school and amenities create a regional draw.

The press release went on to say Draeger's is replacing the Gottschalk’s department store. Apparently, Gottschalk's and Blackhawk Plaza thought this store would go quietly, echoing a series of failures since the inception of the mall. Bad press is sure to ensue with the abundant fodder. Saks Fifth Avenue came and went, a museum extension came and went, and the original Bonwit Teller idea never came to fruition. Only the Automotive Museum, a pet project of Blackhawk developer Ken Behring, remains the mall’s anchor. Some locals, well adjusted to complaining, want retailers that others will look up to, such as Neiman Marcus. However, not only do most locals take their money to the thriving downtown Walnut Creek, Neiman Marcus would never build a store in such a remote location. Like other department stores, it counts on regional traffic, which this mall does not have. Meanwhile, Blackhawk Plaza lives in denial that their concept just is not working. The lushly landscaped mall is stunning, but there are few other reasons to visit repeatedly.

The question now is, will Draeger's help this mall or will it continue the path to additional failures?

Read my Guide to Blackhawk Plaza

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