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As expected - and predicted - the Boyer Company has finally confirmed what everyone knew, the world and the economy has changed.
This new – and unfortunate – dynamic has doomed the Trinity project and we are now in a very bad place.
This is made worse by the fact that those in county government have refused to be honest with us and have not told us of one thing they have done to prepare themselves for this occurrence.
That is not leadership.
Yet as recently as June 30 the council chair answered the concerns of a local resident in an e-mail thusly, “As the Chair of the Council, I would personally like to address your e-mail, even though I know that all of us on Council appreciate your note of concern about the Trinity Site Revitalization Project. Please rest assured that the County is still very much ‘on track’ to build this exciting new mixed-use lifestyle center through a lease agreement with The Boyer Company. You may not have heard this, but Boyer completed negotiations with a major anchor this year, and has since that time reaffirmed more than once to our local news media that the anchor is still very interested in locating in Los Alamos. This has come long after news of an economic downturn became a top news story in the media.”
But this is not what Boyer has said and is not saying now. Quite the opposite.
And we are now apparently left in a mess.
In February we warned that the county needed to prepare for this. We stated then that businesses in malls and shopping plazas were closing and emptying and the project here was in danger from the collapsing national economy.
But as recently as Wednesday, Councilor Vincent Chiravalle decried our warning, saying talks with Boyer were on track. How can the comments from Boyer be taken so?
Again, it should have been clear to the council that after all these years and the state of the economic conditions that there were serious problems. So what have they done to prepare for this? We have asked and that has been shot down over and over.
But the question remains to be answered.
Just look at the reports stating that nationally the amount of retail space being abandoned is at its highest level in 28 years. Many retailers have filed for bankruptcy and closed up. We stated this in February.
Why do we know this and the council does not?
Given the state of the economy, how could we think things will be different here with new spaces to fill when the national example says just the opposite?
It is long past time to look at other avenues to assist the economy here, at other options. It is clear the mall approach is a failing concept.
The International Council of Shopping Centers, in its most recent forecast, expects that 6,100 chain stores will close this year, the highest level since 2004.
This space we have on Trinity MUST be looked at for mixed community use like schools, libraries and new housing.
And - Heaven forbid – maybe a new municipal building and theater?
It is long past time to take some hard looks. We are in a crisis and just thinking we can continue with business as usual will not get us anywhere.