City Hall

City Hall

Retail stance divides field

Candidates see city shopping health at different levels

March 27, 2007

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Here's why Wal-Mart and other retailers matter inside the walls of City Hall: 42 percent.

That percentage represents how much the city relies on sales taxes to pay the bills at City Hall. Of the $54 million general fund the city has in 2007, it is projected that 42 percent of the revenues will come in the form of people paying sales taxes. That's nearly twice the amount the city collects in property taxes.

With dollars like that at stake, keeping the city's retail market healthy has become a key issue in the City Commission election. The issue also has divided the field of six candidates into two camps.

In one camp are Commissioners Boog Highberger, David Schauner and candidate Carey Maynard-Moody. They've been preaching caution when it comes to new retail development.

In the other camp are candidates James Bush, Rob Chestnut and Mike Dever, who have expressed concern that Lawrence is losing sales tax dollars to Topeka and Kansas City because the city doesn't offer enough shopping options to keep consumers in town. They have pointed to a 2005 study commissioned by the city that shows the community is losing shoppers to Topeka and Kansas City, and that the city's retail market is not close to being overbuilt.

The general election is April 3. Voters will determine the winners of three at-large seats on the commission.

Comments

Michael Capra 8 years, 3 months ago

acording to Moody,Boog,Schauner the camp slogan is WELCOME TO LAWRENCE KS THE ANSWER IS NO

Michael Capra 8 years, 3 months ago

What not posting on this one Merrill 42 percent and they say no to biz thats why tour taxes are going up

blackwalnut 8 years, 3 months ago

We need another department store, like a Macy's or Nordstrom's. I'd like another grocery store, like an Albertson's. A Costco would be a great addition to Lawrence.

What we do NOT need is a #2 of any existing store. We need competition and variety.

OT: My Highberger, Maynard-Moody and Schauner signs were stolen from my yard. What gives?

JohnBrown 8 years, 3 months ago

LJW: fair and balanced news.

24 words to introduce and describe one set of candidates. 77 words for the candidates LJW supports. PLUS, the topic (sales taxes) is presented in vacuum.

So, if Wal-Mart gets built, and the heavier traffic requires $25 million in 6th St. and 6th & Wakarusa upgrades, then Wal-Mart will have to generate $416 million in NEW sales to generate the sales taxes to pay for it. Anything less is a taxpayer subsidy to Compton's business plan.

That's NEW sales, not sales taken from competing retailers.

Godot 8 years, 3 months ago

Let there be more retail, and put it where the shoppers are.

And, Blackwalnut, your signs were probably just borrowed by another GRA supporter. Maybe the good ship H-S-M ran out of sign money. Mi casa, su casa, right?

blackwalnut 8 years, 3 months ago

By what logic would a Wal-Mart #2 keep retail dollars in Lawrence?

Does anyone truly believe Lawrencians are driving to Overland Park to shop at a Wal-Mart?

Cindy Wallace 8 years, 3 months ago

I agree with "blackwalnut". I seriously doubt that those shopping in Kansas City are travelling to shop at Wal-mart. Thus, building a second Wal-mart will create minimal additional Sales Tax revenue, if any.

However, I don't believe that Lawrence needs an upscale Department Store such as a Macy's or Nordstrom, as there are upscale shops in our downtown area with a large selection of items found in the mentioned department stores at comparable prices.

What Lawrence would likely benefit most from is a Costco or Sam's Club.

samsnewplace 8 years, 3 months ago

I hate shopping at Wal-Mart, I loved K-Mart, similar stores you might think but oh so different. I think K-Mart had better quality and more variety whereas i've always hated Wal-Mart's parking lot......who in the world invented it was not using it that is for sure. My choice now is Target but would like more choices, so therefore I shop in Topeka. I can't afford downtown shopping like City Hall wants everyone to do, so it has to be affordable because I do work in Lawrence not Kansas City after all. Bring back K-Mart and add more variety to Target and you might have a winner for the lower incomes in town.

jafs 8 years, 3 months ago

The important point above should be stated again - the sales generated by a second Wal-Mart would have to be NEW sales.

According to many studies, Wal-Mart generally puts other local businesses out of business, and so the sales are not new, but rather redistributed.

If this is the case, then they will not generate new revenue, and certainly should not be subsidized by taxpayers.

This is without even considering the many other issues involved with Wal-Mart.

opinion 8 years, 3 months ago

I am not sure but I believe if you block Wal-Mart, you block all similar stores. You would not be able to say not Wal-Mart but yes to Costco or Kmart. That is probably why it is rather silly to say "why don't we bring in so and so?." We don't say who we want and then they show up. THEY choose based on THEIR business plan and most of those plans don't like highly restrictive cities.

Godot 8 years, 3 months ago

"According to many studies, Wal-Mart generally puts other local businesses out of business, and so the sales are not new, but rather redistributed."

Is that why there isn't any place to shop in Olathe?

altarego 8 years, 3 months ago

How come when we go to Sears or JC Penny we are the only ones in the store? Is there some tax reason these compnaies are running losses for years on end? I doubt they even pay the light bill off revenues at Sears.

Godot 8 years, 3 months ago

IMHO, the real reason some folk do not want another Walmart in town is because it will most likely attract more retail, as it does in other growing cities. The problem is, it probably will not attract more retail to downtown.

There is more to this town than the small area from 6th to 11th on Vermont, Mass and New Hampshire.

Jamesaust 8 years, 3 months ago

"...there are upscale shops in our downtown area with a large selection of items found in the mentioned department stores at comparable prices."

Still laughing about this one.

lelly 8 years, 3 months ago

Why was this article written? Golly, could it be more obvious what the LJW wants us to think?

lunacydetector 8 years, 3 months ago

retail is desperately needed in this town. it is too bad the people in charge only care about the downtown.

how about convenient places to shop that are close to where people live? isn't that a smart growth idea? instead of a park every half mile, how about a place to shop? too bad there are too many people drinking the kool aid at city hall.

Meatwad 8 years, 3 months ago

Blackwalnut said, "By what logic would a Wal-Mart #2 keep retail dollars in Lawrence? Does anyone truly believe Lawrencians are driving to Overland Park to shop at a Wal-Mart?"

Also, by what logic does CVS (i.e. Walgreens #3) keep retail dollars in Lawrence?? Do we really NEED another pharmacy?? We have 2 Hyvee, 3 Dillons, Target Pharmacy, Walmart Pharmacy and several independently owned pharmacies. (CVS is being built now at the corner of 23rd and Iowa)

fletch 8 years, 3 months ago

"retail is desperately needed in this town"

Please elaborate. You've got your choice of a few dozen big box retailers and every store you'd find in a mall. You've got numerous car dealerships. You've got hundreds of restaurants and bars. You've got hundreds of locally owned shops that sell items across the spectrum. What retail opportunities are missing from Lawrence?

The only field I see is high end consumer goods (Pottery Barn, Banana Republic, etc), but those are supposedly coming to the New Urbanism development on 6th at the east end of town.

So what development is really being blocked? Walmart? We already have one. New Walmarts don't bring in new revenue. They shift revenue from one source to another.

blackwalnut 8 years, 3 months ago

Posted by offtotheright (anonymous) on March 27, 2007 at 9:23 a.m. "Hate to break it to you, but yes, the walmart in Olathe is 10 times better than the Lawrence walmart, they also have better prices!"

To offtothetheright: Why is that true? Could it be because the Kansas City area has a LOT of competition for Wal-Mart? That they have a Costco and a bunch of similar stores that force Wal-Mart to compete?

Competition is good. Letting Wal-Mart drive off all their competition in Lawrence would be bad.

blackwalnut 8 years, 3 months ago

Meatwad: I agree about the too many chain pharmacies. I switched everything to Round Corner at 8th/Mass and love doing business there. It makes a huge difference in service when the guy who owns the store is on the premises. And the cost is exactly the same.

Stephen Roberts 8 years, 3 months ago

Don't we have have 4 Dillons.

2 on 6th street 1 on 23rd street 1 on Mass

Isn't that too many grocercy stores too?

MyName 8 years, 3 months ago

How come when we go to Sears or JC Penny we are the only ones in the store?

I have no idea. What time and day do you usually shop there? When I've been to Penny's (which is usually on a Sat. or Sun. afternoon) there seem to be enough people. Besides, it's not always the numbers of people but the amount of stuff they buy. I don't go there more than a few times a year, but I usually buy alot of stuff when I do go there.

Jamesaust 8 years, 3 months ago

Q: "Do we really NEED another pharmacy?" A: Obviously so seeing that one is being built.

Richard Heckler 8 years, 3 months ago

Just because speculators purchase property does not guarantee that construction will be allowed for it is NOT the duty of the taxpayer or local government to maximize profits for speculators. Speculating=gambling. Land speculators know these things.

New retail is suppose to create NEW ADDITIONAL revenue and NEW ADDITIONAL employment for a community NOT merely spread current retail dollars to the point where nothing NEW or ADDITIONAL is realized. Certainly it is not to replace existing retail for nothing is gained. Otherwise taxpayers realize TAX INCREASES to cover the cost of additional demand on community services.

Specific projects should be accompanied with independent Retail Impact Studies,Economic Impact studies,Traffic Impact Studies etc etc.

Richard Heckler 8 years, 3 months ago

Specific projects should be accompanied with independent Retail Impact Studies,Economic Impact studies,Traffic Impact Studies etc etc. For any candidate to not respect these tools in order to make decisions of substance is simply irresponsible.

Jamesaust 8 years, 3 months ago

"New retail is suppose to create NEW ADDITIONAL revenue and NEW ADDITIONAL employment for a community..."

Not so. Most new retail just runs old, inefficient, consumer-unfriendly retail out of business. The Soviet Union provided an excellent example of what happens when all-powerful government decides what the people "need".

BTW, merrill - its been determined its best for "the people" that you may only buy your shoes at Weaver's on Mass. Its been determined that sufficient retail opportunities exist for you there. It has been determined that the price, availability and service offered there are optimal. You will be issued a Rundle-coupon for one pair with nominal value of $20. Note: it is a criminal act to use any other form of payment in excess of this amount or to buy more than one pair. This is the only pair you are allowed for 2007. You are not, of course, required to buy there (it is still a quasi-free country) but please keep in mind that if you don't buy there than you are obligated to go barefoot (watch those mower blades).

Richard Heckler 8 years, 3 months ago

"Not so. Most new retail just runs old, inefficient, consumer-unfriendly retail out of business."

Maybe....maybe not. If addtional revenue is not realized then what has been accomplished? One new business comes in some others go out = no net gain and no tax relief. However additional cost of community services has been incurred to be paid by the taxpayer.

==================================== The biggest problem for Wal- Mart is they do have a pattern of putting others out of business. Locally another big problem for Wal-Mart was a petition from some 400 residents in the neighborhood who do not want the Wal- Mart at that location not to mention it was in violation of code. Personally I am making a statement by not shopping Wal-Mart because as an employer they stink,employees need social services to survive and everything Wal-Mart is NOT a huge bargain.

Richard Heckler 8 years, 3 months ago

42% will not be the net from both stores because a 2nd store will take revenue from the existing store which is said to be the largest in the state of Kansas according to a former employee.

THE FREE MARKET IS SOCIALISM FOR THE RICH. The public pays the costs and the rich get the benefit-markets for the poor and plenty of state protection for the rich.

There is no such thing as a "free market." Never has been. Never will be. In fact, the government has always interceded in the economy, most consistently on the side of large corporations against the interests of the majority of American citizens. The important question, then, is not whether or not the government should intercede in the economy, but, rather, on whose behalf they should act and toward what end.

Michael Capra 8 years, 3 months ago

ok MERRILL lets try one more time.Merrill buys land for 100.000 and you plan to put up biz there comish changes zoning on you now you cant do what you planed to do now your out 100 grand and now you want to kill the three commisioners that did this to you.Then you go to jail and dont have to pay 100 grand back,or you sue them spend 500 grand and get to put biz up. Times all of this buy a 100 and now can you see

Richard Heckler 8 years, 3 months ago

I am not out my 100k because I still own the land which is still an excellent and safe investment. Just because speculators purchase property does not guarantee that construction will be allowed for it is NOT the duty of the taxpayer or local government to maximize profits for us speculators. Speculating=gambling. Land speculators such as myself know these things.

Bad planning not regulation has created retail vacancy problems. Studies were not done thus many vacant spaces. Also the cost of real estate & doing business in Lawrence must have some impact and that has nothing to do with city commissioners unless of course they are connected to the real estate business community.

It is likely when the New Urbanism retail center opens up at the 6th and Wakie area it will take time to fill the space and/or create empty space elsewhere. There are only so many retail dollars in Lawrence,Kansas. Why build another retail center at K-10 when the New Urbanism is not yet off the ground?

Considering 12,000 - 15,000 commute to Topeka and Kansas City is it any wonder why Lawrence retail dollars show up in the Topeka & KC metro area? That is consistent with a commuting population.

Like it or not Lawrence is part of that retail market which surrounds our town. Frankly if we cannot find something in Lawrence we are OK with a drive to KCMO metro once in a while. A lack of shopping centers in Lawrence was a primary factor in our decision to locate here. As stated before we knew a drive to KCMO metro once in a while would be the order of the day which may also include a first Friday with dinner and a drink = fun.

Art Fairs bring people to town that spend money so let's close off Mass Street 4 or 5 times a year and promote art shows that which Lawrence is known. The Plaza shouts down several blocks yet people manage. Just one idea.

bearded_gnome 8 years, 3 months ago

Merrill said: "Art Fairs bring people to town that spend money so let's close off Mass Street 4 or 5 times a year and promote art shows that which Lawrence is known. The Plaza shouts down several blocks yet people manage. Just one idea. "

LMAO...falling off chair!
... okay, trying to recover...

whew! funniest thing posted on these forums in months! close off mass st. wow, that really helps the businesses already located there!

these do not bring that much money to the city's economy.

whew. okay...if I read it again...I'll have trouble concentrating...no not reading...not looking.

Richard Heckler 8 years, 3 months ago

Do ciitizens really want Wal-Mart to build another grocery store in the 6th&Wakie area if Dillons or HyVee go out of business as a result? This would produce no net gain in jobs or tax revenue for our city. These stores put their money at risk long before hundreds and hundreds of homes became the order of the day. Don't other small business owners in the 6th and Wakarusa area deserve some respect for filling in spaces, generating revenue and providing employment?

Michael Capra 8 years, 3 months ago

I knew MERRILL WOULD NOT GET IT you still owe the bank how will you pay now that you dont have biz,spend more money that you dont have on studys you my son are just riding the short bus the rest of your life and you know what no one will care so stay poor and go bankrupt

Michael Capra 8 years, 3 months ago

VOTE DEVER,CHESTNUT,BUSH

have a great day

just_throw_bozo_from_this_bus 8 years, 3 months ago

I think Merrill may have something there. The free market economy is no good. Instead, let's follow the lead of Hugo Chavez and do the reverse. Take from the rich and give to the poor. Lawrence could confiscate the land from 6-Wak. What a great farmer's market we could make. Add some free housing for the homeless and there would still be room for a library.

Michael Capra 8 years, 3 months ago

perfect pay 11 milion and its all yours they spent more on studys and roundabouts perfect lets do it

Richard Heckler 8 years, 3 months ago

458 casul,

I bought the land as an investment and just because Wal-Mart should not be there is no indication that I will lose money. I will cut a deal with the Nature Conservacy and get my 100,000k back in an annuity over time after recreating a nature park and maybe get some tax relief in the process.

Or I could set up a organic gardening supply headquarters to include plants/trees started and grown in organic planting mediums. An organic nursery would make tons of money at that intersection. Please pass this on to Bill Newsome and Doug Compton.

It would be far more beautiful than a Wal-Mart!

Richard Heckler 8 years, 3 months ago

The entire organic nursery would be surrounded by beautiful rocky landscape scenes that would sell the merchandise.

blackwalnut 8 years, 3 months ago

Having lived in several of those cities, I question that list. Source? Based on what criteria?

Not that it matters. What was the point???

Godot 8 years, 3 months ago

merrill wrote: "Do ciitizens really want Wal-Mart to build another grocery store in the 6th&Wakie area if Dillons or HyVee go out of business as a result? "

FINALLY. It has taken so long, but it is so worth it, to see the self appointed blogger of the PLC to admit the real reason for the opposition to the Walmart of West Lawrence: the Merc cannot withstand the competition.

Mentioning Dillons and Hy-Vee, which are not even locally owned, is a smoke screen.

Hey, Merrill, why not demand the city impose an "unfair competition" tariff on any goods sold at Walmart, the proceeds of which would go to raise the salaries at the Merc to the "living wage."

By the way, does the Merc provide free health insurance to all of its employees, part time as well as full time?

zimmerman 8 years, 3 months ago

I really have to say this. I am appalled by this article. No wait, to call it an article is to give it way too much credit. This is obviously an opinion piece diguised as a news article. Mr. Lawhorn shoud be ashamed and the Journal World should be embarrassed.
First off, he name drops Wal-Mart as being the reason why retail matters to City Hall. This leads the reader to believe that Wal-Mart is the main source of tax income in town. This is not true, but is also not surprising given that most of Mr. Lawhorn's stories dealing with Wal-Mart have definitely had a pro-Wal-Mart stance.
Next, he shows two groups and their respective ideas on economic growth. However, he only gives the facts for one side of the argument. This is very bad journalism. If this weren't an opinion piece, then the reporter might actually site the long list of facts that are causing Highberger, Schauner, and Maynard-Moody to come to their conclusions. The reason these people don't feel Lawrence should keep developing at the pace that it is, is that currently our retail development is growing faster than the amount of retail dollars spent in the town-- this can be seen from census data-- not to mention the traffic boosts, the tax money spent on water lines and electricity, and the crumbling infrastructure which overdevelopment has caused.
Also, look at the wording in the piece. Mr. Lawhorn describes the retail tax dollars as "being at stake", as if there is some insuing danger that we might loose these tax dollars if one group goes in and another doesn't. However, there hasn't been much debate over the chance of losing current tax money generated by retail. The debate is centered on development, or how new business might affect the town. In other words you can't really lose something you never had.
Also, he describes one group as "preaching" and the other group as having "expressed concern".
This type of language and a lack of important facts obviously tries to finger one group as the crazy radicals that will cause the town to lose all of its retail taxes and the other as the calm, rational thinkers, that have facts on their side.
Now, I obviously have an opinion on retail issues in Lawrence, but this post is not placed in the newspaper as an unbiased news article. I would hope that Mr. Lawhorn will at least try and explain the reasoning behind why BOTH sides have come to their conclusions. Perhaps an interview or at least a tiny amount investigative journalism might bring this information to light. If not, maybe the next piece should go in the opinion page.

Jamesaust 8 years, 3 months ago

right_thinker, you made me laugh with your list.

Of course, the list could also be a proxy of cities with large minority populations (a/k/a, "liberal") and those mostly white (a/k/a, "conservative). (Wow, Provo! There's got to be at least 2 black people there. Anchorage? A cesspool of illegal Mexicans. Colorado Springs? Isn't that where that gay prostitute loving, coke snorting minister had(!) his megachurch?)

Two notes: 1. I note that while Plano, Texas, and Arlington, Texas - both large suburbs of Dallas - are listed, Dallas is not. Could it be that the second largest Texas city synonymous with big oil and the likes of "J.R." voted 49% for John Kerry in 2004? Yet, who in their right (or right_thinker) mind would call Dallas anything but conservative - at least, really conservative?

  1. Doesn't Overland Park - conservative city #23 - have a Democrat Congressman who you regularly denounce as "liberal." Hmmm...makes me wonder if the conservative cities cut off around #22 and then remaining 300 municipalities with populations over 100,000 are all "liberal".

jafs 8 years, 3 months ago

Zimmerman,

Thank you for pointing out the obvious bias and lack of good journalism at the JW.

I recommend the book "Wal-Mart: The Bully of Bentonville" by a respected Wall Street Journal journalist for those interested in how Wal-Mart does business and what the net effect of their presence is on a community.

His conclusion is that generally there is a net zero gain for their presence and supports that with a multitude of examples and clear analysis. The jobs lost/gained are balanced, as is the tax revenue.

Because of their huge size, Wal-Mart is able to keep their costs down by intimidating suppliers into lowering their costs, offering 35hr/wk part-time jobs with no benefits, etc.

In our system, there are supposed to be laws preventing companies from getting so large that they are impossible to compete with - why are these laws not being enforced?

While they espouse a sort of patriotic pro-America rhetoric, their suppliers are almost completely Chinese and overseas - now that China is becoming more powerful and perhaps a little bit more expensive, they are looking for even cheaper, less developed sources of supply.

Wal-Mart provides a large number of fairly decent goods at very reasonable prices, but that seems to me to be their only positive feature.

Thats_messed_up 8 years, 3 months ago

Here's a concept...people from all over Douglas county come to the Lawrence Lowes or the Lawrence Sams or the Lawrence Costco instead of going to the KC stores then after they spend $200-500 they go downtown to eat and have a beer and walk around and make a day of their shopping trip IN LAWRENCE! More tax dollars coming to Lawrence! DUHHHH!

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