By JOHN HARLOW | Editor-in-Chief
At an exclusive gathering within the Jonathan Club on Pacific Coast Highway on Tuesday, Feb. 27, Rick Caruso revealed a large-scale architectural model of the Palisades Village project—and its opening date.
It is, as many now know, Saturday, Sept. 22—technically the last day for the “summer” opening long promoted by the developer.
It is clear that, although the Caruso team appeared to catch up after last spring’s “40 days and nights” of rain that slowed the initial evacuation of the Swarthmore site, they are being careful about signing off on the mix of retail, dining and eight leased apartments.
So careful, indeed, that they are not releasing images of the model they displayed for club visitors—the revealing images above were culled from various guests’ mobile phones.
While some guests said it looked wonderful—Palisadian-Post Junior Reporter Gavin Alexander has described it as “incredible” (full report coming next week)—others said it felt more “urban” than they expected from earlier Caruso images.
Caruso reminded his guests it was no easy task fitting around 42 “doors” or tenants into a space as large as Nordstrom in The Grove.
It lacks the fountain Caruso said he would consider when last speaking to the children of the community. But it does have high walls to baffle noise for neighbors.
And although Caruso has said he has leased 80 percent of the space, without revealing half the names, the date gives his team time to infill—as well as keep an eye on the lead contractor, the $5 billion a year construction giant Tutor Perini.
Tutor Perini is famed even in the always-tough world of construction as a player of hardball.
In the 1990s, a century after it was founded by an Italian immigrant, Perini was rescued from financial difficulties by Californian entrepreneurs Ronald Tutor and Richard Blum, Senator Dianne Feinstein’s husband. He has since disinvested in the company.
It enjoys a colorful history of cost overruns and legal battles.
According to the Center for Investigative Reporting, 11 major projects in the Bay Area completed by Tutor Perini divisions since 2000, including a San Francisco Airport expansion, cost $765 million or 40 percent more than original estimates.
In Los Angeles the company has faced courtroom hearings involving a crumbling runway at LAX and Red Line Metro problems near downtown where 2,000 feet of tunnel wall was only half as thick as required.
And yet in January the LA Metro authority contracted Tutor Perini to help build the Purple Line before the 2028 Olympics, because of its low bid. It has offered to do the job for $145 billion, nearly $500 million lower than its nearest rival.
California has commissioned Tutor Perini to help construct the inter-city high-speed bullet train—a project that has already run into massive political concern about overruns.
A spokesman for Tutor Perini in Sylmar said that the client (Caruso) did not want the cost of the project revealed in their quarterly log report but as it was a building rather than a civil project, it was relatively low margin and would not “move the needle” for the corporation.
Zev Yaroslavsky, who was a Metro director during past legal battles, told the LA Times: “You have to wonder how rigorously the financial aspects of the Metro bid were analyzed. There is an old saying I subscribe to: ‘Once bitten, twice shy.’”
As Tutor Perini has already worked once with Caruso, on its Montecito Rosewood oceanfront resort, such issues may not dog the Palisades Village project—now due to open in 198 days.