Letter: GGP blew it by withholding information about mall plans

January 23, 2012

As one who was told, by name, to "shut up and listen" by a fellow resident at the recent pre-submission meeting concerning GGP's plans for the mall, I feel compelled to comment on three portions of your article, "Mall plans draw tepid response" (Jan. 19).

One: You claim that residents were "unconvinced at first that (GGP's) hands were tied" in terms of sharing more information about their plans. Actually, we continue to be unconvinced.

Contrary to GGP's assertion, the county's development approval process clearly allows them to share whatever additional information they want to share about their plans. In addition, though at first they maintained that they were not hiding anything, under persistent questioning by residents they finally let us know crucial additional information they had withheld at first.

Two: Ms. Lancos claimed that residents who spoke "lacked the proper understanding of the county's process for land development." Not so. Though she and the GGP representatives asserted that residents wanted details that were premature to ask for, all anyone actually asked for was the answer to a simple question, "Why are you undertaking this redevelopment?" No details — just the concept.

Three: You claim that "(t)he mood only calmed after a few residents stood up in support of the (developers)." This is patently false as it was one of those residents who uncivilly told a well-respected original Columbia planner, a member of the CA board, and the spokesperson for the largest citizen's group focusing on Downtown development to "sit down and shut up". The mood only became pricklier after that. What actually calmed the mood down was GGP finally sharing their concept for the project.

If GGP had led off with this information, rather than forcing residents to pry it out of them, the whole meeting would have been totally calm and over in a fraction of the time, since the proposed redevelopment seems essentially innocuous.

Ironically, the GGP spokespeople took great pains to share their connections with Jim Rouse. I just can't imagine Jim presenting development ideas to the community without first sharing why he was planning the development in the first place.

Alan Klein



The Coalition for Columbia's Downtown

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