In through the back door.


     Yesterday was the ground breaking ceremony for the controversial Oro Valley Marketplace. The project was delayed when a $23,000,000 tax rebate approved by the town council was sent to the voters. The initiative in favor of the rebate passed overwhelmingly after a massive public relations campaign paid for by the Phoenix based developer Vestar.

     Oro Valley Marketplace was touted as a high quality project but the developer was careful not to commit to which stores would or would not be involved. Many local residents were surprised when it was finally announced that a Wal-Mart Supercenter would be going in at the site.

     Most people that I have talked with were hoping for something a little higher end but they are not ready to jump out of any windows.

     Some people are getting near the edge and have set up several web sites. One of them can be found at Let Oro Valley Excel. There you will find a link to Oro Valley First. The page encourages support for local businesses but quickly devolves into classic Wal-Mart bashing.

     (I was surprised to learn that Wal-Mart lowers the value of surrounding residential properties. I wonder what the million dollar homes in Tucson National would sell for if there was not a Wal-Mart located in the vicinity. Rich people must be delighted that they only have to pay $1.4 instead of $1.6 for their winter golf house just because there is a large retailer down the street.)

     The Oro Valley First has a place where you can register and pledge not to shop at the Wal-Mart or even any stores at the Oro Valley Marketplace. I wonder what will happen with all those names and addresses in the future. At the bottom of the Oro Valley First page it says Vistoso Media, which seems to be connected to Salette Latas.

     Salette and her husband Jeff (former Democrat candidate for congress) live in the exclusive gated community of The Estates at High Mesa. (Not exactly the Wal-Mart crowd.) Salette has announced that she is running for a seat on the Oro Valley Town Council. Would I be cynical if I wondered if some of those names and addresses from the pledge to stop Wal-Mart from coming to Oro Valley ended up on a mailing list for Salette’s campaign? It would be a good fit since she seems to be making the Wal-Mart store one of her issues.

     Oro Valley is overwhelmingly Republican but due to the non-partisan nature of the vote by mail election it would be very possible for someone like Salette to end up on the council. She may do well by tapping into the community angst about Wal-Mart and the planned Crematorium.

     This is a classic battle of the hate Wal-Mart crowed vs. the business / development crowd. I wonder if Vestar will poor a little more money into Oro Valley so that we don’t end up with a partisan Democrat on the council now that they have given her a great issue on which to run.


  1. kralmajales says

    Wow…that does sound like a bait and switch in a major way though. You have to admit. I mean that project was touted as something pretty substantial, neighborhood friendly, etc. Now they learn its a Walmart Supercenter????

    I tell you what, there will be hell to pay on that one for sure. It aint just Walmart bashing either. I mean, would you want your house near one? And…add to that this, what if you were expecting a nice little richy rich plaza like the one on Oracle and Ina and instead got this?

    Eh its ok though. No biggie. The market at work. I hope they pass that crematorium up there too!

  2. Hi.
    Personally I don’t care what political party a person belongs to.
    To me this is an issue not a republican or democrat issue.
    Well so far, not one politican on the OV council has voiced any concern about the “bait and Switch”.
    What political party endorsed Vestar and told us to vote yes? Let me guess!!!
    Hooray for Salette Latas for taking a stand!
    Sign the pledge and put the pressure on
    Oro Valley residents were duped by Vestar.
    We should not share with Vestar the developer one cent of our sales tax money until they fulfill their their part of the bargain to bring beautiful Oro Valley a unique shopping center, please tell me one thing unique about Wal Mart. Upscale is one thing, lots of run between Wal Mart and upscale. you can sign on line.

  3. cactusmouse1 says

    In addition to giving Vestar the tax credit, late last year the town council voted in a 2% utility tax. Then the annoucement was made that WalMart would be going in to the Marketplace. If I’m not mistake, to soften the blow, Walmart made a generous donation to Oro Valley for the new park that’s planned. I’m certainly not in the loop but I’m going to go out on a limb and say it’ll be a cold day in OV before the bond package for the new town park is passed.

  4. Ms coyote says

    Hi CactusMouse. Wal Mart made a 250,000 donation to the park . Yeah that is funny, that would be like us giving less then a penny!!!
    Even though I think the town is spending like we have a credit card we don’t have to pay off, maybe it would pass , look people fell for that Vestar PR, they really did not pay attention.
    I wonder if they are sorry now!!!
    Wal Mart and or Vestar should be paying OV the 23 million for being allowed to build here.
    Shame on our council members for not speaking up!

    Even the ones who were not around when they voted for the tax sharing will mostl likely feel the wrath of citizens who are disugusted with this whole mess.

  5. kralmajales says

    Wow again…

    Based on what I am hearing, I would be furious at Vestar and especially for the council for allowing this to happen and probably with knowledge.

    I would want heads to roll for this. I mean, wasn’t this a really contentious issue in the first place? Then once the idea was that it would be a nice shopping center adding to the town, then it passed a bit? Can anyone provide more history?

    The thing that makes this sicko is that this isn’t at all about laws keeping Walmart out, or about where they can build if they buy the land and all, this is about the Town SUBSIDIZING the move of Walmart there.

    THAT is different. I wouldn’t care whether they were Republicans or not. This is either A) a mammoth screw up that should be paid for with a “no confidence vote” or a “recall” or B) Corruption in a major way.

  6. If shoppers really feel peeved about Vestar’s bait-and-switch, they’ll never darken the doors of the OV Marketplace! It’s an action that’s elegant in its simplicity: Why should we bother to shop at any of Vestar’s stores after such deception? Think of it! We ignore the Marketplace Mall…

    …and how long would it take before the other Marketplace tenants put pressure on Vestar?

    And what of our oh, too silent town council that has allied itself with Vestar instead of sticking up for the people they were elected to represent? How refreshing it would be if we could elect more good, independent, candidates like Salette who would represent the people.

    And what exactly happens if the Big Box stands empty? Empty warehouses all over the country stand witness to hundreds of former Wal-Marts that went bust, many of them because people supported their friendly local merchants and stayed away from mega-malls like The Marketplace.

    We can go about our lives very nicely without supporting this mall. Let Vestar get hit in the purse — hard. If they’re smart, they’ll send Wal-Mart packing and give us something more unique and upscale, in keeping with the Oro Valley we want it to be.

    It’s up to you, dear readers. I’ll sign the pledge, will you? Find it at

  7. ms coyote says

    Interesting that 3 council members attended the groundbreaking ceremoney , Dankwerth, Loomis and Parrish.
    Maybe some of our council members will also support the pledge not to shop in order to put the pressure on Vestar.
    Interesting note if you click on the link provided in the article “overwhelmingly” republican it takes you to the Pima County Board of Election website, Yes Oro Valley has 11,473 registered republicans and 6,194 registered democrats, but check out the other column, 6,805 who are neither.
    This madness goes beyond the party politics, this is something that I see forever changing our town of “excellence” into town of strip malls with no heart.
    Our town really blew it.

    I really don’t want to subsidize this developer Vestar by giving them almost half of our sales tax money!!!!
    I can’t imagine why any person would.

  8. cactusmouse1 says

    I agree with Ms. Coyote. This isn’t a partisan issue. The free market is what it is but this wasn’t free. Our tax dollars are involved.

    I’m not a NIMBY type; I’m for the free market and have been known to shop at Walmart, but like much of what has gone on lately with the OV Town Council, this was unethical.

    If I have to have three Walmarts within six miles of my front door, fine, but I shouldn’t have been lied to about it and my tax dollars shouldn’t have helped supplement it.

  9. kralmajales says

    Well said Cactusmouse

  10. Zev Cywan says

    For people like Terry Parrish, Wal-Mart might be upscale. For people like Dankworth who think that ‘a shoping experience’ will [make a woman happy and in turn will make her husband/family happy]; yes, women like to shop – but not for low grade bicycles, cheesy clothes, televisions, boom boxes, etc. – that wont make the family happy. Wal-mart is a lower than low end store. – NO PLACE HERE!

  11. Thankyou for this informative post. I am keen to see more on this topic in the future. Thanks again

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