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Letters to the Editor

Retail opportunity

September 2, 2010

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To the editor:

Tuesday’s letter to the editor titled “No gain” says there is no economic benefit to adding a new business in Lawrence.

The main premise seems to be that economic growth is a zero sum where all financial transactions net to zero. If that were true U.S. GDP would not have grown by about 50 percent in ten years. Economic growth occurs by increasing the economic pie.

The arguments offered sound like “communist central planning” versus “free market” economics. There is a presumption to know Lowe’s demographic criteria better than they do. After all, Lowe’s is the one investing in and betting their financial future on Lawrence. Lowe’s sees future growth for Lawrence. We should be shouting hurray, an outside company has faith in Lawrence’s future.

If we have empty storefronts, ask why. Could it be the product offered is not desired by the public or could not stand up to competition, that Lawrence’s cost of doing business is excessive? Could it be the national economy?

For years Lawrence has complained about “sales tax shrinkage.” Lawrence’s sales taxes shrunk dramatically with the opening of the Legends in Wyandotte County. Why? Because they have sales outlets not available in Lawrence.

Many people also travel to Topeka to shop at Lowe’s. Lowe’s wants to come to Lawrence so they can be convenient to their local customers.

Lawrence has an opportunity to improve both our economy and our reputation as a welcoming community willing to work with businesses wanting to relocate here. Let’s not waste the opportunity.

Comments

Practicality 4 years, 3 months ago

Nice letter David. You appear to have covered about all the main issues in a rational manner. Unfortunately rational arguments wont matter to this crowd. They will only be happy if it is a "new Urban" Patchouli store.

LogicMan 4 years, 3 months ago

"They will only be happy if it is a "new Urban" Patchouli store."

Or if the special taxing district is dropped first, or the location is moved west on 6th (with no special tax).

LogicMan 4 years, 3 months ago

"West of wallyworld "

Best site too, in my mind.

How's it zoned?

Who owns it, and can we get that person to offer it publicly to Lowe's?

grimpeur 4 years, 3 months ago

Did someone say Lowe's can't build in Lawrence? No.

Why the lies? First the edit, now the LTE. Liars fall in here.

Kookamooka 4 years, 3 months ago

"Lawrence’s cost of doing business is excessive?"

Ding, ding, ding! You win the prize.

kansasmutt 4 years, 3 months ago

A bonus about Lowes is they buy and sell american made products, unlike Home Depot & Wal Mart. If a hardware based company has the balls to build in Lawrence in the downturn, i say let em build.

matchbox81 4 years, 3 months ago

Yes, let them build...Just have them build it at a site that's zoned for that type of location, rather than one that the developers worked with the city to get zoned into small scale mixed use.

Lowe's wants to build in Lawrence, and they probably want to build at that location because the developers approached them. The city has other concerns in mind, namely, making sure that land use is consistent with that local area plan, and that the 6th Street intersections at Folks Road or Wakarusa isn't overrun with traffic. The city didn't turn this application down because it would add too much retail to the city or the type of store, the application was turned down because of where that store would be.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 4 years, 3 months ago

" Lowe’s sees future growth for Lawrence. We should be shouting hurray, an outside company has faith in Lawrence’s future."

No, Lowe's sees future growth for Lowe's. They couldn't care less about Lawrence.

"Lawrence’s sales taxes shrunk dramatically with the opening of the Legends in Wyandotte County. Why?"

Oh, puhleeze. Lawrence's sales taxes have shrunk, but so have everyone else's. There's a recession going on, David. And while Legends has apparently done well enough, any increased sales taxes have done little to nothing to improve anything for the majority of Wyandotte County residents.

And as others have noted, no one has said Lowe's can't build a store here. They've merely been told that a years' long zoning process has already determined that Bauer Farms, immediately adjacent to Free State HS, is not the appropriate place for a big box store.

But David is ever-ready to make his poor developer comrades out as oppressed martyrs.

gl0ck0wn3r 4 years, 3 months ago

" Lowe’s sees future growth for Lawrence. We should be shouting hurray, an outside company has faith in Lawrence’s future."

No, Lowe's sees future growth for Lowe's. They couldn't care less about Lawrence.

The two things aren't linked?

jafs 4 years, 3 months ago

Not necessarily.

If the new Lowe's does in fact simply draw business from other stores, it is a net zero for the city as a whole.

no_thanks 4 years, 3 months ago

I didn't get the sense that David is ready to "make his poor developer comrades out as oppressed martyrs", but rather stated some salient points to counter Kirk's earlier editorial. I laugh at those who argue that "no one is saying that Lowe's can't build in Lawrence, just not at the proposed site". The old adage of purchasing real estate is location, location, location. I am certain Lowe's as minimum criteria for their site selection such as near a Wal-Mart/SAM's/Costco, on a major transportation artery, near roof tops, adequate land for parking, etc...The selected location meets those criteria. While the site further West might be a better location for zoning, meeting that criteria may take years (no other big box has been sited, no roof tops, etc...) and thus may not be an option for Lowes.

Now, with that said, the decision is not an easy one as zoning regs exist for a valid and important purpose. The question, in my opinion, isn't the proclaimed "bait and switch" with the zoning, but rather, is the site appropriate for a commercial building. In other words, if they applied for commercial zoning in the initial application, would it have been approved. My sense is the answer is yes, so lets move on down the road.

As for vacant retail space that becomes blighted, I agree with the author of the letter, that if there was a product or service that could be sold profitably out of those stores, entreprenuers would have captured the opportunity. Lowe's believes there is such an opportunity, and has identified a location that they deem worthy of investment. Don't penalize Lowe's because of your disdain for commercial development that didn't pan out or dislike of certain developers.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 4 years, 3 months ago

So your point is that there are only two considerations--

What do the developers want?

What does Lowe's want?

jafs 4 years, 3 months ago

Of course it's bait and switch.

If they wanted to apply initially for different zoning and a different kind of development, they should have done so.

They didn't, and the area was zoned for a particular kind of development.

Period.

Unless there are very good reasons for changing that zoning, they shouldn't be allowed to build there, if their plans are not in compliance with the zoning.

Jimo 4 years, 3 months ago

Still waiting for a reason - other than the developer's profit - why there needs to be a variance for this site versus Lowe's building in an appropriately zoned site.

1029 4 years, 3 months ago

A lot of people say that Lowe's has the right to build a store wherever they want. However, I question the location because there ain't hardly no people out that way, which makes one wonder if this is going to be more of a victory memorial than a store, because there used to be trees out there and Lowe's sells lumber.

Joe Hyde 4 years, 3 months ago

I wonder how profitable a Lowe's store would be if one were built in Eudora. And what makes me curious about this is the site that's being proposed now (6th & Wakarusa Drive) puts the store at a point where inside a 5-mile radius sits the bulk of Lawrence's most recently-built homes. In theory at least, owners of those newer homes have less real need to visit a Lowe's store, which makes the 6th & Wakarusa Dr. location a poor choice if one of the company's objectives is to provide their "target customer" with a necessary and accessible store.

Putting a Lowe's in Eudora creates a better transportation situation for home improvement-minded people who live in older houses and who have decided that after decades of habitation their house is in serious need of various repairs and upgrades. And not just the older houses in Eudora but also those in East Lawrence, North Lawrence, Baldwin City, DeSoto, Vinland, Linwood, plus older rural homes in the eastern half of Douglas County, the western half of Johnson County, the northern half of Franklin County and the southern half of Leavenworth and Jefferson counties.

With the heavy east-west traffic volume on K-10 Highway daily, I think a Lowe's in Eudora might do pretty good business. Not only that, but the city leaders of Eudora probably have enough brains to refuse extending 30-year tax abatements to the company as an incentive to build there, then aggravate that offense by letting the company hit customers with a Community Improvement District "user fee".

GUMnNUTS 4 years, 3 months ago

So, if Lowe's wants to build a store here, why can they not pick a differnt location that is zoned proper? Is it that specific location or is it the ties to the developer and all that "CHASE BANK' money.

mom_of_three 4 years, 3 months ago

Just build the lowe's and customers will come. Tired of driving to Olathe.

Richard Heckler 4 years, 3 months ago

Tax dollars are involved in this decision which makes it the business of all taxpayers across the board. Tax abatements cost taxpayers their tax dollars. Tax incentives cost taxpayers money. Tax incentives are known as a FREE LUNCH to developers and big box store owners sponsored by the taxpayer.

Lawrence needs every tax dollar to fund our library,our schools,our street maintenance,traffic light maintenance,city hall in general,water and sewer line maintenance,fire department,LPD etc etc etc.

Lots of empty buildings no matter their use = over built markets = buildings that are not paying their way = more money from the wallets of taxpayers the majority of which do not support reckless fiscal decisions.

Over built markets are unfriendly to business

Over built markets are unfriendly to new and existing business

The idea of new retail is to bring on new jobs,new tax revenue and new economic growth.

The idea of new retail is not to put others out of business = lost jobs,lost tax revenue and lost economic growth = zero gain = very unfriendly to taxpayers and employees which in turn makes developers an unaffordable budget item.

gl0ck0wn3r 4 years, 3 months ago

Just curious, Merill: how many retail businesses have you opened? How many of those empty storefronts you complain about have you filled with a business started with your own funding? What real estate do you own?

Eileen Jones 4 years, 3 months ago

We heard the same arguments when Wal-Mart forced a second store into Lawrence. That parking lot never seems all that full to me, even at what ought to be peak shopping times.

It doesn't make sense that a Lowe's is going to bring business where when there is a Home Depot here already and a few private hardware stores and lumber yards. I don't believe people are flocking to Topeka to go to Lowe's instead of to Home Depot here. The stores are too similar.

I don't think we need a Lowe's in Lawrence, and we especially don't need a Lowe's at the Bauer Farm location which was never intended to house that kind of business.

Eileen Jones 4 years, 3 months ago

"Many people also travel to Topeka to shop at Lowe’s."

That's funny, I never heard of a single person going to Topeka instead of to the Home Depot right here in Lawrence. What does Lowe's have that a person cannot find in Lawrence?

GUMnNUTS 4 years, 3 months ago

So everyone complained about the extra 3cents at 'tax burger' but for large purchases at a store that you will actually notice the extra tax you are not going to complain? How much extra will that new appliance cost you? No one said Lowe's could not open a store here, it is the location. Find a new location and build it.

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