The Shredder is too new in town to know whether previous shopping centers hurt downtown SLO ("Don't mess with us, Texas," March 31-April 7). They did.
I arrived in town in 1970, shortly after Madonna Plaza opened. Downtown was a ghost town due to the shopping center's sucking the blood out of it. About a quarter of the stores were empty, even with rents of 25 cents a square foot. There were many really run-down stores and buildings, and lots of thrift shops. It was a dreary, depopulated place.
Downtown fought its way back - it took 15 years or so of being propped up by the city for prosperity to return.
Madonna Plaza was about one-third the size of the proposed Marketplace. The Marketplace alone will have as much shopping space as all of downtown. How could it not have a huge impact?
All the shopping at the Marketplace will be cannibalized from someplace else. Where? It's not all going to come from Santa Maria, as Marketplace promoters claim. Most of it will come from other outlets right here in SLO.
The tragedy of the Marketplace is it has so much retail space it will foreclose for decades the need for any more. We'll be stuck with its schlocky stores and crappy location, and will never get the good stores people here say they really want because the shopping dollar will be so diluted those good stores cannot make a go of it here.
If you love SLO, vote no on the Marketplace.