by Kelly Vance
This week, "Back to Square One": A group of developers is trying to remake Jack London Square into a knockoff of San Francisco's popular Ferry Building Marketplace, complete with food stalls, artisanal whatnot, and throngs of happy, prosperous, cash-bearing customers. The anchor is to be a building dubbed Harvest Hall. These days, however, Jack London Square looks more like Famine City. The developers (wouldn't you know it, they're pals of Don Perata) have been accused of getting the potentially valuable waterfront property at sweetheart prices. But since they took over, businesses have been tanking right and left, and there are more vacant storefronts than going concerns in the area. Some people accuse the developers of having sneaky ulterior motives. But others are tired of waiting for Jack London Square to reach its commercial potential, and would welcome even a Slow Food vision of upscale foodies crowding out folks who can't afford $118 for two ounces of caviar or a $9 bowl of phÃ´. So who's zooming who? Staff writers John Birdsall and Robert Gammon roll up their sleeves and tuck in.