by Dale Sandore
The situation at the Kaleidoscope entertainment center reminds me of Mission Viejo Councilman Bill Craycraft's poorly thought out attempt three years ago to bring the Vigilantes 'Bush League' baseball team to the city.
The team whose wildly inflated attendance figures proved to be a sham left town after two seasons, leaving the taxpayers with only an empty redevelopment bag to show for a $1.4 million subsidy.
The Kaleidoscope certainly isn't 'bush league;, it is owned by the $20 billion Samsung conglomerate, and as reported in a Our Times article, Mission Viejo has given the developer $1.6 million in redevelopment money to help fund the project.
The center seems to be using the same old Craycraft-Vigilante type hype. In last week's article, Kaleidoscope V.P. Dan Paskewitz said, "This whole Kaleidoscope is now pulling in a cross sectional array of people, in a sense we are offering every kind of entertainment". In a May 8, 1999 Our Times article, Pasjewitz said, "We are being very choosy, we're looking for the right mix". In last week's article he used exactly the same words, in spite of sending out hundreds of fliers in December to prospective businesses offering rent deals, moving expenses, flexible leases, and stating that all types of businesses will be considered, the building is still more than 1/3 empty a year and a half after opening.
Hype and mixed signals didn't help the Vigilantes and it won't help the Kaleidoscope. There has been much skepticism about the site, which the Mission Viejo Co. left vacant for over 20 years. In accepting public money, Kaleidoscope has made its future a public issue. It needs to take a straightforward approach and a new strategy. Since the May 1999 article, I know of only one new tenant, a small ice cream store.
Meanwhile, Craycraft and associates on the city council once again proved that using public money for private development is risky. Perhaps they could use the Kaleidoscope for a city hall instead of building a Taj Majhal behind the library. They could then pretend to listen to public comments under the canvas with the wind and freeway noise to drown out the chorus of dissent