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