Baffling actions

Last week, I wrote our news story about how Developers Diversified Realty Corp., otherwise known as DDR, is dragging its feet by allowing two vacant storefronts in the Century Riverside 12 building to remain unrented, despite the fact that potential tenants are clamoring to occupy them. A third storefront also remains empty, even though it was supposed to open a full year ago as the On the Rocks wine bar.

The owner of On the Rocks, Bill England, stopped by after the article’s publication to talk to me about what’s been going on.

“It’s been pretty messy from the beginning,” he says.

England’s story starts in November 1999, when the Century was the brand-new Regal. England saw potential in the vacant storefronts, even when the theater building was the subject of public criticism and backlash. He saw a beautiful river and a location right next to Wingfield Park—a perfect place for a wine bar.

He contacted the building’s landlord, DDR-OliverMcMillan. And then he waited to hear back from them. And then he waited some more.

This would be the start of a trend.

Eventually, England became one of the first tenants to sign a lease at the Riverside 12, in June 2000. He and his business partner, John Stewart, had hopes of opening On the Rocks that summer.

But there was more waiting to do. DDR-OliverMcMillan split, with DDR taking over management of the building. The plans were ignored. The summer went by and turned to fall, then winter. A contract with a slot machine vendor fell through. Stewart decided to pull out of the partnership.

In February of this year, England submitted more plans to Premier Properties, which had been handling local management of the theater building. England then learned that DDR had fired Premier and was handling management of the building itself. He called Theresa Rooney-Malky, DDR’s regional leasing manager for Western states.

“She was very hostile and aggressive on the phone,” he says. “She threatened to evict us for not paying our rent.”

But England swears that he has been paying the rent on time every month. And he says the city turned a mysterious cold shoulder to him when he went to it for help.

That’s when he went to an attorney.

Since then, he says, he and DDR are at least communicating. But he sent more plans to DDR more than a month ago, and he has not heard anything.

All this means that even if he got the go-ahead today, it would be at least two months before his shop could open—after most of the busy summer events season has passed.

It makes you wonder …

Another illogical thing happened last week when Wick Communications, the Phoenix-based parent company of several Las Vegas publications, including Las Vegas CityLife, canned talented and well-respected senior editor Hugh Jackson in what was deemed a cost-cutting measure. Ironically, Jackson’s firing was announced the day after CityLife hit the streets featuring a cover story by Jackson on the increasing political power wielded by Latinos in Nevada.

You’ve probably seen Jackson’s work before, as numerous pieces of his have appeared in the RN&R as a result of a story-swap deal we used to have with CityLife.

Some folks, including labor activist and Sparks Tribune columnist Andrew Barbano, speculate Jackson was let go because he was never afraid to take on big businesses and sacred cows. However, others believe Wick let him go because he had a larger salary. Whatever. In any case, this may spell the end of the road, quality-wise, for what had been called the best paper in the state by some folks. This move is like lopping off your head because you want to lose weight.

It just makes no damned sense. It also makes you wonder …