The Austin Chronicle

Naked City

No Foley's for Galleria

By Amy Smith, December 6, 2002, News

Either bad luck or a well-organized opposition campaign has placed another stumbling block in front of plans to build the Hill Country Galleria, a proposed $250 million shopping center in the Village of Bee Cave.

Last week, the May Department Stores Co., which owns Foley's and Lord & Taylor, notified mall opponents led by the Save Our Springs Alliance that it would not be joining the mall project. Galleria developer Chris Milam had said he had a letter of intent from Foley's, which would have been a key anchor tenant.

The May corporate office notified SOS just two days before a planned boycott of Foley's at Barton Creek Square Mall. In a letter to SOS, May spokeswoman Sharon Bateman wrote, "Please be assured that the [St. Louis-based company] is not opening a Foley's store or a Lord & Taylor store at the proposed Hill Country Galleria." Milam, through Galleria spokesman Don Martin, said, "We have a policy of not commenting on the status of any of the pending leases at the Hill Country Galleria at this stage of the project."

Village of Bee Cave officials gave Milam their blessing on the project early this year, with the understanding that there would be no big-box retail at the 114-acre Galleria site, located at the confluence of three well-traveled roadways, State Highway 71, RM 620, and RM 2244. The site lies within the Barton Springs Watershed, and opponents say the 1.35-million-square-foot project and the traffic it spawns will cause irreparable environmental damage and destroy the pastoral nature of the tiny village.

Bee Cave officials are offering a $30 million package as an incentive for Milam to pull in swank anchors -- the same prospective tenants that SOS and unhappy residents have targeted in letter-writing campaigns. Last fall, a spokeswoman for one sought-after tenant, Saks Fifth Avenue, told Naked City it had no plans to open a store at the Galleria.

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