WatchSonoma Watch

Did public market developer ditch Sonoma County for Niagara Falls?

It looks as if Sonoma County may have been jilted by a two-timing developer who ran off to the “honeymoon capital of the world.”

As Robert Digitale reported today, the much-anticipated plans for a $10 million, 68,000-square-foot public market at the Sonoma County Fairgrounds are dead. The Boise, Idaho-based developer, Mark Rivers, who fairgrounds officials hadn’t been heard from in months, confirmed as much in a brief statement, saying, “the financing environment and political climate just weren’t conducive” to developing the MarketHall project.

What did he mean by a non-conducive environment? It’s not clear. He wouldn’t respond to Digitale’s request for clarification.

As it turns out, his heart apparently was elsewhere anyway. While Sonoma County was waiting on Rivers to deliver on his promises, he was on the other side of the nation courting Niagara Falls, N.Y. with a somewhat similar proposal.

Rivers, a native of western New York, has received tenative approval from Niagara Falls to develop a European-style outdoor market downtown that would be open during the holiday season from the end of November to January. The Holiday Market project apparently has been in the works since at least February.

Click here to see the latest story on the project in the Niagara Gazette.

Not everyone is happy with the plans. In a column from the Niagara Reporter, a weekly newspaper, Rivers is described as “an elegant huckster with a glib tongue.” The March 15 column by Frank Parlato Jr., a Niagara Falls developer/businessman turned publisher, contends “Rivers is a man who favors private/public partnerships, especially when the public comes up with all the money.”

I don’t know whether Rivers was straight with fairgrounds officials or not. But maybe being left at the altar wasn’t such a bad thing for Sonoma County.

- Paul Gullixson


6 Responses to “Did public market developer ditch Sonoma County for Niagara Falls?”

  1. Fiscal Conservative says:

    Does the statement need clarification? I don’t think so.

    Sonoma County has an non-conductive business environment.

    The ability to leverage financing from a bank will be greatly reduced if the local regulations/regulators are concidered unstable. ( Sonoma County is concidered extreme.)
    Bank board of directors know how to google!

    This socialist/greenhouse gas agenda government can not even attract a farmer’s market to our fairgrounds.

    Leaving….That’s what business does best in Sonoma County.

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    Yeah I’m sure he was a slimebag anyway. I mean, who would want to open an outdoor market in California where you could be open most of the year when you could be in Niagra Falls where you can be open about 5 months. He was probably lazy too.
    He is just another of those capitalists that seek to either not come to California or leave California because they just prefer to open their businesses someplace where the weather is lousy and the population is smaller.
    The fact is California as a whole and Sonoma County in particular gloat at how business friendly they are; that is until one seeks out the necessary permits, requirements and fees associated for the privilege.
    You got “dooped” because your cost of doing business here is too high compared to other truly business friendly states.
    End of story.

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  3. Steve Klausner says:

    “Rivers is a man who favors private/public partnerships, especially when the public comes up with all the money.”

    The developers of the Railroad Square project also fall into the above category.

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  4. Peter says:

    Is it possible that the City of Niagara is far more effecient then Santa Rosa when it comes to wading through red tape? I can not imagine that it is not. This is just a more public example of things that happen all the time. I have attended a handful of Economic Development related seminars in Sonoma County in the last six months. Everytime there has been a local business person asked about the problems in our area, the first response is always the City or the County’s inability to keep up with the pace of business. The quality of life, geography, climate etc. is great. The stupids in charge can not get out of the way and let business prosper. As a young business man in the private sector it is very frustrating to know that the people that are not great at there jobs now will be paid for the rest of their lives for their poor performance. And I will be footing the bill. Our system is set up in a way that nobody wants to make a decision; nobody wants to be resposible. Great oppurtunities will continue to slip through our fingers until something is done.

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  5. Sarky Fish says:

    What did he mean by a non-conducive environment? Duh—maybe the waterfall of local and state regulators breathing down his neck? Then there’s the local newspaper that was sure to support any whacked out progressive or fanatic environmentalist who might object to the capitalistic nature of a project that harmed defenseless vegetables.

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  6. Originalist says:

    Yeah, keeping businesses out of Sonoma Cty. is great for those seeking jobs and the local economy!

    Maybe he bailed out because the climate in Buffalo is nicer is December too? Isnt it amazing how this area can justify its failures or at least try to! It is always the other guys fault!

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