A presentation by the developer of a controversial shopping center at the Oro Valley Town Council meeting on Sept. 3 could prove contentious.
David Malin, a project manager for Vestar Development Co.’s Oro Valley Marketplace, intends to update town leaders on the roster of tenants who have signed leases at the 800,000-square-foot mall.
“Since we are sharing tax revenue, we need to know what’s going on,” said Councilman Bill Garner, who requested the Vestar update.
Discrepancies about tenants on the company Web sites prompted Garner’s request.
Some confirmed tenants include DSW, Wal-Mart and Best Buy.
But a brochure on the company Web site shows Linens ’n Things as a tenant even though the retailer announced dozens of store closings and plans to scuttle new openings.
In a previous interview, Malin confirmed that the store had rejected its lease at Oro Valley Marketplace.
“My concern is what are you bringing into the community?” Garner said he would ask Malin.
Controversy has plagued the Vestar development even before construction crews broke ground in 2007.
An economic development agreement will split as much as $23 million in sales tax revenue that the new shopping center will generate in the coming years between the town and Vestar.
The tax-sharing deal has drawn protests from activists ever since voters approved it 2004. Vestar’s deal with Wal-Mart to anchor the shopping center only amplified those protests.
Then, in a July letter, Town Manager David Andrews took Vestar to task for allegedly flouting building codes, bogging down town staffers with plan reviews and not following building plans.
Andrews also accused the developer and its subcontractors of ignoring markers and breaking a water main.
But in an earlier interview, Malin blamed town employees for the break.
The town workers marked the wrong area, he told The Explorer on Aug. 6.
Andrews also accused Vestar of causing delays to the Oracle Road widening project, and creating erosion that caused $440,000 in damages to a town water reservoir.
Town leaders have filed an insurance claim to get Vestar to pay for the damaged reservoir.
Malin has denied that contractors caused delays to the Arizona Department of Transportation widening project. A spokesperson with the agency also said the company had not caused delays.
But town officials point to other problems they say plague the project.
Crews recently painted at least one building at the site the wrong color, according to Andrews.
While the town amended development plans to allow for that mistake, Andrews said that in another instance, contractors failed to follow Oro Valley’s specifications for a sidewalk.
The area should have had a colored walkway. But workers apparently poured un-colored concrete.
Town building officials may force the contractor to rip out the section of sidewalk and re-pour dyed concrete.
At another building, contractors also installed window frames that did not comport with the color or material specified in development plans.
Andrews said the contractor would have to remove the frames and install the approved ones.
Vestar officials have met with town leaders since Andrews sent the company the warning letter.
“We said, ‘We’ll hold you to a higher standard,’” Andrews said.
Since the meeting, the town manager noted, no new problems have emerged at the mall site.
David Malin, Vestar’s project manager, did not return calls for comment about his planned Sept. 3 presentation to the town council.