Matthew Lickona 2:29 p.m., May 24
CCDC Kills 7th and Market Project; Chairman Maas Says Related Group May Be Victim, Attacks Local Developer
Centre City Development Corp.'s board killed the proposed project at 7th and Market this morning (Sept. 10), but was disrespectful to the previous runner-up developer, Robert Green of Encinitas, according to attorney Larry Sidiropoulos, co-owner of the nearby Clermont Hotel, which the Black Historical Society of San Diego wants incorporated in any project at that location. The project was killed because CCDC's recently-resigned president, Nancy Graham, was receiving money from an affiliate of the developer, Related Cos., while she was president of CCDC. As revealed in the Reader in late 2005, Graham had been criticized for her cozy relationship with Related back when she was mayor of West Palm Beach, Florida, then head of downtown development, and finally a private sector developer. Karen Huff-Willis, head of the Black Historical Society, says she will push to have the hotel become a part of any development at the location because of it importance in San Diego African-American history. "We supported every developer except Related. It was so fishy," she says. According to Sidiropoulos, CCDC Chairman Fred Maas suggested that the California branch of Related, which was supposed to do the project, may have known nothing about the Florida branch of Related and its relationship with Graham. If so, the California Related group is pathetically uninformed; stories about Graham's conflict with Related were all over South Florida newspapers in 2005. At today's meeting, "Robert Green got up to speak and Fred Maas got up to attack him; there was no mention of how we were the victims; we spent hundreds of thousands of dollars" on a proposal. Maas "was interrogating Green with a derogatory tone," says Sidiropoulos. "The fact that he said that Related is a victim does not give me a lot of confidence that Maas is being fair and impartial." In my opinion, the arrogance and corruption of CCDC is so blatant that the City should take the opportunity to get the money Centre City owes to San Diego, and then kill the operation. CCDC is nothing more than an extension of the real estate development industry.