11/23/2008

Smart Growth v Walmart

Posted by MJ






(Image from report on Town of Lockport project info site.)



LUSJ reporting on the possible appeal from Smart Growth against the Walmart reuse of the old Lockport Mall site:
LUSJ Article
Here are the Town's pages on the project:
Town Wal-mart Information Page

Once upon a time there were a few good threads on this subject on the LUSJ forums. Unfortunately, those get removed after a certain amount of time. I'll relay out my thoughts on the project here and ask you to do the same, be it for or against the project. Please keep your comments respectful.

1) The Walmart building will still be smaller than the section of the mall that is being demolished.
Here is the link to the proposed site plan for the mall site:
Proposed Site Plan

2) I feel that the reuse of a property that brings new development back inward restrengthening the current town business district "smart growth". Walmart's usual plan of building on cheap land on the outskirts ends up pulling new development out to it, causing vacancies in older plazas. I was surprised when they took this development route.

3) "Made in China" arguments apply to all major retailers. Go into Target, Kohls, Kmart, etc and try to find "Made in the USA" items. Even in Tops, walk down the utensil isle and look to see where they are all made. Quite a few items in Walmart give options to pricier "Made in the USA" items and cheaper "Imported goods". I'm pretty certain that items like Bounty paper towels all come from the same place.

4) Traffic concerns seem to stem more from traffic management over actual traffic numbers. The signals 100ft apart at Shimmer and the HD plaza appear to back up traffic more than relieving it. As for accidents, it is a very basic intersection. The intersection of Rt 78 and 93 has its fair share of accidents too. Not much you can do with people who choose to ignore signals.

5)The existing Walmart site can be easily broken up to house some smaller businesses. HD plaza still has opening for businesses. The existing site can not house the Super Center though.

6)There will be basically no change in views for those living around the property:
Proposed View or Rear from Surrounding Properties
Being such a large building, it is best suited to be at the rear of the lot, with out parcels up to the street at the front of the lot. Only so much can be done with a 200,000 sqft building.


What is the true fight here? What are your thoughts?

UPDATE: 11/25/08 - fixed links

UPDATE 11/26/08 - New Renderings 09/2008 from Town Website

Wal-mart Transit Road Elevation

Bonton Update Perspective


UPDATE: 12/04/08 - LUSJ +BuffNews articles stating decision on appeal expected by April.

LUSJ Article

BuffNews Article

Aerial View of property in 1966

20 comments:

Rocketboy said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Barbarosa Snar-Snar said...

One problem with the way Walmart does business that is often overlooked is how they are, in effect a monosopy--that is, they can tell the people they buy from how much they will pay for goods, and several American companies have gone under as a direct result (Vlasic, for example). Also, Walmart costs me tax $, so the "low prices" are offset in other ways:

* One 200-employee Wal-Mart store may cost federal taxpayers $420,750 per year. This cost comes from the following, on average:

o $36,000 a year for free and reduced lunches for just 50 qualifying Wal-Mart families.

o $42,000 a year for low-income housing assistance.

o $125,000 a year for federal tax credits and deductions for low-income families.

o $100,000 a year for the additional expenses for programs for students.

o $108,000 a year for the additional federal health care costs of moving into state children's health insurance programs (S-CHIP)

o $9,750 a year for the additional costs for low income energy assistance.

[The Hidden Price We All Pay For Wal-Mart, A Report By The Democratic Staff Of The Committee On Education And The Workforce, 2/16/04]

The effect Walmart has on the country as a whole, and on towns much smaller than Lockport, is something we need to take into account. It's not just about the site on Transit road.

MJ said...

If Wal-Mart is paying salaries/benefits according to federal and state law, is it not a function/problem of those minimum wage/labor laws? How much Federal $$$ is going to all the fast food workers along Transit Rd? Does anyone have a link to a comparison of floor/cashier worker salaries at major retailers (Wal-Mart, Kmart, Aldi etc) from a reputable source? I can't seem to find one. It would greatly aid this conversation. Wal-Mart has a turnover in those positions at around 70%. So the workers do appear to move on. How does this compare to "starter" jobs at McDonalds’, etc?
I do not mind this information, as it is valuable. But when presented in a vacuum with no comparisons to other low cost retailers one cannot make informed decisions. If the problem is indeed industry wide maybe the problem lays in our minimum wage laws? Should we (our gov't) be able to complain when it sets these minimum values, then is concerned when businesses are actually paying them and the costs that it incurs?
And for such an evil company, Wal-Mart ranked #1 in Forbes last year for most charitable corporation ($301 million dollars in total) and #6 when compared to % of income at 1.3% (#1 was 1.7%)
www.forbes.com/2008/10/16/most-generous-corporations-corprespons08-lead-cx_mk_1016charity.html?feed=rss_popstories
Forbes also reports that Wal-mart actually makes small inroads in metropolitan areas
http://www.mindfully.org/Industry/2003/Wal-Mart-Grocer30jun03.htm
“Out in the sticks, of course, it's another story. About 70% of Wal-Mart's 1,333 Supercenters, which include grocery sections, are based outside the top 100 metropolitan statistical areas. But despite the widely publicized view that everyone shops Wal-Mart, its grocery customers are predominantly unskilled, blue-collar farm laborers, the elderly or the unemployed, according to Merrill Lynch. This is in line with Wal-Mart's own observations that 20% of those customers don't have bank accounts.”
It appears those with the money to spend, choose to spend it at stores with higher prices, but also more upscale shopping environment, like Wegman’s. ( And by the way, I’d be ecstatic for a Wegman’s here in Lockport!) Those without money choose to go to Wal-Mart and squeeze the most out of the money they do have. Why shouldn’t they have that choice?
As I’ve mentioned in the past, I like to play devil’s advocate from time to time. It appears all too easy and popular to jump on Wal-Mart (a corporation started by one man and his five and dime store) without any mention of how other similar companies relate in comparison or the laws that enable such crimes against humanity to happen. I’ll admit though: my main interest here though is with the fight against the actual site reuse and planning.

Brian said...

What is the problem with Walmart. They are a buisness that wants to come hear and add jobs. Look around their are no jobs out there.Smart groth is wasting allot of money on a case they are not going to win. I can't wait until they open.

Rocketboy said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Lkpt Mom said...

Smart Growth is questioning whether the town palnning and zoning boards acted legally. It is believed that both boards did things that were not within their jurisdiction. To Rocketboy, alot of the people living near the mall were there before the mall was built.

MJ said...

Here is the site in 1966:
http://www.historicaerials.com/?poi=3035
Good old farm land for those who were living there 37 years ago.


One court has already sided with the town. I guess we'll see what the appeals court says.

http://www.lockportjournal.com/towns/local_story_325022712.html

http://www.lockportjournal.com/archivesearch/local_story_012012122.html

Here's some older stories. A lot of it comes from splitting up the property. They should just have the BonTon move to the old Walmart. Build the new dept store section of Walmart and move in. Renovate/split the old Walmart building up for the BonTon and have them move in after "selling" the land to General Growth Properties. Then knock down the old BonTon and build the supermarket portion of the Walmart. Done deal.


Municipalities give zoning variances all the time. But if the contention is treating two new parcels as the one they would come from is illegal to do, keep it one property and get moving on it. Or change the town law to keep in the spirit of an existing grandfathered property.

Rocketboy said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Lori said...

Your solution sounds logical to me, MJ. I don't have a problem with Super Wal-Mart coming in, but some competition would be nice. I'd like to have more options for shopping, without going out of town.

Rocketboy said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
LockportMom said...

I would definitely like to see more competition come into town. I have family members who shop the Super Walmart, and they live even farther away from me. I would do it too, but for me it is time and convenience. A long time ago I used to be one who sat with the Tops, Quality and Super Duper ads finding the best deals and going to all 3 stores with coupons in tow, but now, I just want to get what I need and get out. I would much rather have a Wegmans than a Super Walmart for more different food choices.

This could be tied up in legal proceedings for a long time, and it all comes down to the almight buck. If any of it is bankrolled by those powers that be (i.e. Tops/Perna) then shame on them. If they really had nothing to worry about pricewise and servicewise, they should welcome a little friendly competition to show how different they really are and stand above the rest. But we know the answer to that.

MJ said...

As of right now, I think it is still one property owned by General Growth which BonTon leases from. Wal-mart has an option to buy a portion of the property.

If Wal-Mart were just to lease the land from General Growth instead of separating it and buying a portion, all these zoning attack points would go away like in my other option of a property plus cash swap mentioned above.

Lockport has already asked and received the higher quality facade design (not shown on old rendering above) which is about as much as you can ask for. The zoning itself just gives the same unorganized disconnected asphalt crap that we already see on S. Transit. The best you can get is from the overlay which just puts some lipstick on the box at the back of the oversized parking lots. No desire to be creative here.

As for traffic: you have the same entrances that were being used by the mall containing two addition anchors, dozens of smaller shops, and a movie theater. Don't see the need to worry about it here.

Rocketboy said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
MJ said...

what do you mean by protesters? where were they? what did their signage say?

appears Wal-mart is trying to trick us with a donation to the soup kitchen resulting in a new oven.
http://www.lockportjournal.com/local/local_story_335233216.html

Rocketboy said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
MJ said...

Updated with link to today's article. Sides will present in March with a decision expected in April.

"http://www.lockportjournal.com/local/local_story_339010019.html"

Rocketboy said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
MJ said...

Not a thing. What would they be protesting? Gas tanks too close to a bank?

Voucherandyou said...

Thank you for the helpful post. I found your blog with Google and I will start following. Hope to see new blogs soon! Walmart Coupons

Voucherandyou said...

Have read many blogs on the net but have never come across such a well-written blog. Good work keeps it up. Walmart Coupons

Post a Comment

Please be be respectful. Diverse opinions are welcome and encouraged. Trolling/baiting/personal attacks/spam will be deleted on sight, as will respnding to one that has yet to be deleted. Do not encourage the behavior.