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David and Goliath both win

February 25, 2011

It appears that after weeks of negotiating, a brutal battle regarding private-property rights vs. economic redevelopment has been avoided.

Attorneys for Americana at Brand developer Rick Caruso — the billionaire Goliath in this story — and Golden Key Hotel owner Ray Patel told a judge in court this week that the two parties had settled on terms that would allow the 15.5-acre mall to expand its reach and overtake the entire block along Colorado Street.

But it would be a misnomer to give Patel the title of David for what has turned out to be a public tussle that included dramatic public staging and the resources of private-property-rights groups — all employed by a scrappy hotel owner who in December rejected Caruso’s $6-million buyout offer in favor of what is expected to be a far sweeter deal.

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Caruso is no stranger to playing the chess board of public opinion for his own ends, but this time, it appears Patel will be the one claiming checkmate, despite the outcome paving the way for an expanded Americana.

The battle could have turned bloody, but with a settlement, both sides get what they want, and City Hall escapes a political fiasco. It will even likely mean the city gets out of Patel’s lawsuit against Caruso and the Redevelopment Agency alleging negative impacts to the hotel during the Americana’s construction.

It’s a three-way win, with Patel laughing all the way to the bank. But in the end, we wouldn’t blame some members of the public — especially those who packed City Hall on either side of the debate — if they feel a little duped.

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