Neiman Marcus is coming to Walnut Creek. And all sides seem to indicate that the mall war that has rocked the city for months, is finally over.
With all 26 precincts reporting, unofficial results show 71 percent of voters were in favor of the upscale retailer setting up shop in Walnut Creek.
Walnut Creek voters went to the polls Tuesday to decide whether the city's outdoor mall, Broadway Plaza, should be allowed to expand — likely to pave the way for the city's first Neiman Marcus store.
Voter approved Measure I allows a two-story, 92,000-square-foot anchor store to be built at the corner of Mt. Diablo Boulevard and South Main Street, the site of the former David M. Brian store. A majority was needed to win. Out of the 41,000 eligible voters 21,398 cast ballots.
It's been a long and expensive fight for Broadway Plaza owners Macerich Co., which spent $1.3 million on the campaign.
"We are overwhelmed at the amount of support we have seen and we are very appreciative of the effort ... The community took ownership of this and it humbled us," said Macerich Spokeswoman Patti Hazlett, from a campaign party Tuesday night at the former David M. Brian store. "People were so engaged, it's a real testament to the community here."
The mall giant has a long-term lease with Neiman Marcus.
Rival mall giant Taubman Centers, which owns Sunvalley mall in Concord, spent $700,000 funding opposition. Taubman backed a group of residents who opposed the project mainly due to traffic and parking concerns. Measure I called for an attendant and mechanical-lift parking system at the Broadway Plaza garage, creating about 175 spaces specifically for employees.
That group, led by Ed Dimmick, a former mayor, and Selma King, a former planning commissioner, put out a statement early this morning . The group which includes resident Ann Hinshaw and former Mayor Ed Skoog said because they spoke out Walnut Creek will get a better store in the end.
"The voters of Walnut Creek have now spoken at the ballot box and we respect their decision," according to the statement. "Measure I pertained to planning and zoning issues and was never truly a vote about whether the community wanted a Neiman Marcus store."
The statement went on to say that the group will continue to watch "large-scale developments" and promised to "remain vigilant and ... not hesitate to make our positions known."
Separately, King said she was ready for election day and for the campaign to be over.
"I have lost more elections then I have won," King said. "I am able to say that we did the best we could."
Proponents who wanted the store in Walnut Creek argued that Taubman only got involved because it wanted Neiman Marcus for itself for the City Center project in San Ramon.
This mall battle has rocked the city for the last several months. Proponents said the upscale retailer would bring in $400,000 in tax revenue and help keep Walnut Creek's downtown vibrant. Opponents argued that the environmental report for the project was flawed from the beginning and that city leaders had given Macerich special treatment in approving plans.
The fight went all the way to Contra Costa County Superior Court, where a judge ruled that political concerns motivated the City Council not to act on two referendums that could have blocked the project.
As for Neiman, Broadway Plaza leaders say the store could open as soon as spring 2012.
Reach Elisabeth Nardi at 925-952-2617.