News that the long-troubled Grand Avenue Mall - - lately known as The Shops Of Grand Avenue - - is being included in an auction is not a surprise.
Go back to the beginning, when the administration of Henry Meier and the business community thought 30 years ago that the salvation of the city's downtown lay in transplanting the basic suburban staple with something revolutionary - - an indoor mall, with a food court !! - - to the heart of the central commercial district.
Years later, when the market had absolutely changed, and speciality stores and condos were popping up everywhere in the downtown, there were demands made upon Mayor John Norquist to pony up $100 million of city revenue to subsidize a Nordstrom's department store to anchor the mall.
Norquist said no, though smaller loans were made for improvements in and near the development.
The Journal Sentinel editorial board and some opinion-makers then hammered the Mayor for failed leadership - - an unfair charge - - but he was right to decline (imagine having to eat that unrecoverable IRB or TIF loan balance!) and let the market play a bigger role in determining what tenants - - now including a hotel, lofts and offices - - would be in the development by choice.
Even in a down economy, the iconic property is too valuable to sit idle too long - - look at the success of The Public Market, the entire Third Ward and all the development along the Riverwalk - - so there will continue to be a mix of housing, retail and commercial space on some or all of the multi-block Mall site.
The mistake was to pretend that a little piece of Brookfield was the panacea for the heart of the city.
Some interesting reuse of buildings, like the old Plankinton Hotel.
But a bad model.
In the wrong location.
And...enjoy Eugene Kane's Grand Avenue/Chris Rock segue way. Now that's journalism.