Walmart - Smart Growth Threats

Posted by MJ

Both the Buffalo News and the LUSJ have reported on the issuing of permits for the demolition of the Lockport Mall structure. The Buffalo News goes into more detail about the next "Smart Growth" threat:

Foes of the Walmart supercenter project are threatening to sue the Town of Lockport again, claiming the building and demolition permits the town issued last week were illegal.
Daniel A. Spitzer, attorney for Lockport Smart Growth, a group of citizens opposing the project at the Lockport Mall site, said Monday the approvals the Planning Board granted the project in November 2007 have expired, and Walmart can’t go forward without reapplying, paying another application fee and going through another public hearing.
The town sees it differently:
The town anticipated this angle at the Nov. 12, 2008, Planning Board meeting. The board passed a resolution declaring that the one-year period to use the approvals wouldn’t start until all litigation in the case had concluded. That occurred early last year.

Spitzer wasn’t impressed, saying the Planning Board’s 2008 resolution was itself illegal.
“Show me where [the law] gives the Planning Board the authority to change the town law,” Spitzer said. “This is just a giveaway to Walmart.”
I  hope the motion is legal. I've seen this on the city Zoning Board etc. In our case it is usually the permit seeker coming back to explain the need for an extension every year. Starting the clock ticking after, or pausing during litigation makes sence. We'll have to wait and see if the planning board's motion is valid or if a greater change in law was necessary.

Also interesting are the restrictions that Walmart put on use of the property to remain under Gerenal Growth ownership:
The agreement says General Growth cannot place any grocery store, discount store, wholesale club or pharmacy on the property it still owns at the mall site. Other banned uses of the General Growth property include theaters, bowling alley, nightclub, health clubs, spas or any business that sells alcoholic beverages. A full service restaurant would be able to sell alcohol though, and Bon-Ton doesn’t count as a discount store.

“Bon-Ton does not constitute a discount department store or discount store,” according to the agreement.

The three “outparcels” that host the First Niagara, Arby’s and Wendy’s locations can remain in their current forms, but the landscaping, drainage and access points might be subject to change. Walmart will pay for a new sign for its supercenter, the Bon-Ton and the outparcel tenants.

Hopefully General Growth will dress up those out parcels during this process as they are some of the dirtiest looking along that stretch.

UPDATE 12/05/11:
LUSJ chimed in on the lawsuit threats.


Anonymous said...

Give it up TOPS/aka.Smart Growth, you now have competition, suck it up and get competive prices you have gouged the residents of Lockport long enough.

Anonymous said...

We all know Tops Lockport owner is protecting their monoply on full service grocery and the got a few locals to take up their cause!!!

Rocketboy said...

Don't forget the unions... they see Walmart's employee base a a huge untapped source of union dues. "Smart Growth" is more or less a franchise anti-Walmart group that's ran by the big service unions.

LockportGal said...

Start knocking it down fast ...before they can litigate...

MJ said...

I think what I miss most from the media is investigative reporting. We'd all love to know the real reason for the lawsuits.

The land is at least purchased. I'm not sure if there ar eany escape clauses in the event of additional litigation.

The layout/design is fine for a big box. If the process were to have to be done over again I'd love to see a revolutionary redo. Though the Town zoning codes most likely prohibit anything but a big box at the back of the parcel.

Anonymous said...

I am tired of the eyesore of a Mall. Why isn't Smart Growth being called out, who are these people? When is the SmartGrowth people going to build anything in Lockport and provide jobs?

Anonymous said...

I agree. We have no idea who they really are, who funds them, etc... There's no way that a small group of residents have this amount of resources to continue fight after fight. In the end they will lose. This all serves as a continued big F-you to all of us just because someone's distain for Walmart. The only good news is that the demo will take a while and these permits are not related to it. Hopefully this wont drag on too long and will be resolved by the time the demo is complete.

Rocketboy said...

I knew I read something about Smart Growth somewhere...

Oh ya, over here:


The Phantom said...

Go away Smartgrowth! Can't you just accept defeat and move on with your lives??? This is just another delay tactic to keep the area from moving forward. I hope the bulldozers come rolling in as soon as possible and I'd love to be there to swing the first sledgehammer.

Roll on Walmart, tear it down!!!

Rocketboy said...

You're forgetting Phantom, that blocking Walmart IS a large part of the lives of the people behind "Smart Growth". They don't care what the community thinks, they exist specifically to block Walmart. And they are not unique to Lockport.

Anonymous said...

and proud to be doing the blocking too!!!!

On a related topic, this weekend I was in both Walmart and Target. I fond one person in the back of the store (Sporting Goods) who could help me, NO other dept's had people working. And I had to literally wake that guy up to get help, he was an older gent snoozing on some boxes! I then went to target, there were plenty of people all over the store.
Why are you foresaking us Target! lol

The Phantom said...

Funny. But if you're doing the blocking, you're part of the problem, not the solution.

How many ways does Smartgrowth need to be told they lost the battle?? Get over it! Save the town the time and effort fighting this and admit defeat!

I hope the bulldozers keep Smartgrowth up at night while they tear down the mall.....

Rocketboy said...

Phantom... If your only goal is looking out for yourself, every tiny victory is a huge one. The "Smart Growth" groups don't care what the residents think or care about. But they are more than happy to use local residents for their own goals.

As a total side note, the funny thing is that (and I'm not using the quotes to be snide this time) "Smart Growth" originally referred to reducing urban sprawl. One of the arguments that the "Smart" Growth (back to being side) was that gee, wouldn't it be better closer to Robinson Road next to the Fieldstone? Which would, you know, just extend sprawl.

Anonymous said...

While I could care less if this project happens or not, I would be willing to bet that there are no supporters of this project who would want to wake up every morning and look out their back window and see that building one hundred feet or less from their window. In the past I have heard people say "well they shouldn't have bought a house by the mall". The mall was never a 24/7 operation like WalMart is. And with the building being pushed closer to the houses it makes it that much worse for the property owners.
These people are defending their property and quality of life. I would do the same thing and and every one of you ardent supporters would to the same thing if you were put into a similar situation. It's human nature to defend yourself against anything that will cause negative effects in your life. If anyone who supports this project on that location says that it wouldn't bother them, you should go to any one of those homes that surround it and offer the home owner fair market value for their property, I'm sure they will accept it.

PS. I find it ironic that my word verification to post this comment regarding a Walmart issue was "cityrats".

Rocketboy said...

Sorry, "Well, they shouldn't have bought a house by the mall" added to that a house just off of the main artery into Lockport is still a totally valid point. So no, it wouldn't bother me, because I would have never bought a house adjacent to a major retail corridor. I'm not saying that it won't be worse, that's not the point. Of course it will be. But that's the risk in buying a house in that area.

But again, Smart Growth actually does not care about your way of life. They only care about stopping Walmart. They are using you for their own needs.

MJ said...

Have you looked at the photo-renderings?
Where is the visual difference to those whose property is adjacent to the property? I also recall the mention of restricted delivery hours for no truck traffic/loading dock noise at night. Please recall this new building is half the size of what is getting knocked down.

It is the actual zoning that pushes it so far back and it does meet zoning for the rear property line. The major zoning variance problem is the new property line between BonTon and the new Walmart relating to their set backs relative to each other. It has nothing to do with the residential that surrounds it.

Anonymous said...

I think the whole point is why weren't they forced/encouraged to put it on a lot that is big enough for it, and even big enough for a larger version, such as the Fieldstone lot. Now we are still stuck here without a cinema, as well as another empty building (the original Walmart).
And I agree, why can't we have a store thats 5x as classy as Walmart, get us a Target with a Wegmans to go with it!
Everyone talks about how much money Smart Growth must get from Tops, how about how much Mark Smith (our $50,000 a year half time supervisor) gets from Walmart?????

Rocketboy said...

Anon... Again, pulling locations out of the air as to where you'd love to place Walmart. I'm sure there are a LOT of factors that you don't know about which make the old mall a better location. And please, don't cry me a river about how there's no cinema, because why would you want to go see a movie on a tiny screen in an empty mall? Face facts. If Walmart didn't buy the lot, General Growth even admitted that it was more cost effective to have an empty lot than a failing mall. So what's worse? Viable retail, or a broken empty parking lot, because that's what you would have.

Also, do you have anything to back up your accusation that the Town Supervisor is getting illegal money from Walmart?

MJ said...

I think the point is we were lucky we didn't have to force them to reuse an existing piece of property. We are getting investment that is pushing inward (a bit) instead of moving out leaving vacated structures in it's wake. That's smart growth.

Better than empty Walmart and empty mall creating a depressed area stores would want to leave to be near the newer Walmart. The mall was dying off without Walmart. It's a national trend for smaller malls. The theater was an outdated mess.

The size is fine as it's 1/2 the size of the structure that's already there. Do we need to be able to drive a 747 around it just incase? Why do we need to worry about how close one business structure is to another? A plaza can be continous storefronts but if separate pieces of property we should have to drive between them? Goes to show how limiting the current zoning codes are and how much space they waste.

We typically can't get "5x classy" stores due to demographics. Maybe if we started to develop a unique place for people to live, work and shop we could change that. Enforcing the same POS zoning as everywhere else does not accomplish that. (And incase no one noticed, a majority of items in Target etc are imported too. ;)

Anonymous said...

-didn't say illegal pymnts to the supervisor, I am just guessing he received some 'campaign' donations. if you want to know truth about stuff, the old adage of 'follow the money' is true. I woldn't argue Tops hasn't donated money, but I'll bet walmart, it's engineers and lawyers have also.
-it's not pulling locations out of the air, it's seeing a huge empty lot and saying they wouldn't have to squeeze a walmart in as they are now.
-i heard from one business owner (hint - skateboards) that the mall forced him out, as they did many other successful businesses for Walmart. i don't believe the mall was failing, it was jumping on a better offer.
-I believe hundreds of local kids would be very happy to have a cinema even with small screens here to give them something to do other than go to house parties on weekends.

Rocketboy said...

-Campaign financing are public records... the only way someone would not know about it is if it was illegal.

-Yes you are. Because you have no idea what lead to the decision to build it on the mall lot. I'm sure Walmart knew what properties were available before they decided on the old mall lot.

-I'm sure that people were forced out. Because the mall was losing money. Local malls everywhere are failing due to Big Box store, regional malls, and internet sales. Did you miss the part that General Growth just came out of bankruptcy? And General Growth's main holdings were malls. This is not a situation that's unique to Lockport, or specific to Walmart.

-Then why didn't they go and fill the mall cinema when it was there? The theater was terrible, had you actually been there, and compared it other cinemas in the area? If there are so many people in Lockport clambering to view a movie locally, I'm sure someone will build a new cinema... maybe on the old Walmart property.

Anonymous said...

The orignial plan was for the theater to go over to the old walmart and walmart to go to the mall, but thanks to all the delays who knows if that plan is still underway. It is cheaper to demo and rebuild on a devloped piece of propert than to start fresh, and as for the property next to value and fieldstone,,,, millions for the land then you have to put in sewer,power,drainage,enviornmential studies etc..... or knock down an eyesoar and rebuild.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...

The orignial plan was for the theater to go over to the old walmart and walmart to go to the mall, but thanks to all the delays who knows if that plan is still underway. It is cheaper to demo and rebuild on a devloped piece of propert than to start fresh, and as for the property next to value and fieldstone,,,, millions for the land then you have to put in sewer,power,drainage,enviornmential studies etc..... or knock down an eyesoar and rebuild.
1/09/2011 10:20 PM

First of all your guessing at the cost of that property. Secondly, if you attended any of the meetings you would know that all of the existing water and sewer lines on the Mall site have to be replaced anyways because they are inadequate for the new project. No cost savings there. And are you suggesting that Walmart can't afford to put it where it belongs?

Rocketboy said...

Are you suggesting that you know specifically where Walmart "belongs", and the full costs of all available lots in the area?

MJ said...

After years of Walmart buying cheap green space on the outskirts of towns, the following emptying older plazas etc as other stores moved out to be near them, requirment of lane widenings near those new growing locations while maintaining it at the old underused locations, etc: one would think a town's citizentry would be happy that Walmart has finally reversed those tactics and started to re-use old properties protecting th einvestments around them. Any proponent of green space should also be happy that additional acres of fields will not be paved over.

I am curious how 200,000 sgft of retail is going to find water and sewer lines built for 400,000 sqft of retail inadequite. If it is because it's outdated it's still cheaper than building new somewhere else and addtionlly rebuilding that located on the mall site (assuming another user could be found.)

The old mall is the perfect site. It is just too bad that we could not have been more progressive in the layout of the site and building.

B of lockport said...

can we just start breaking ground on the old Lockport Mall???...It's a worthless pile of Bricks....Enough of the Impact studies....Talk...Lawsuits..etc...we have a company that actually wants to spend money here....is there pressure from Tops that competition might move in to take some buisness away from them.....politics...as always..that is why we never get anything done in this area.....I say Build the New Wal-Mart....Knock down the old and put a Regal Cinema and a Wegmans in the old Wal-mart area....so I do not have to take my money to Clarence....

Anonymous said...

Good point about reusing the Mall area. Yes, they could have pushed out and built on the many open spaces along Transit.
By the way, hopefully there will be some re-use of David Cadillac. Another eye-sore being empty saying welcome to Lockport.

Anonymous said...

For all that bash Tops for their opposition to the development of the new Super Wal Mart, Here's a few of my thoughts,
Is it just me or have several stores gone out of business following Wal Mart's initial arrival? If you are having trouble remembering, let me refresh your minds. Ames, Kmart, and then slowly but surely more stores from the mall followed the leader until the eventual closure of the sight all together! Also, I have always wondered how more people did not notice or care that Wal Mart themselves used deceitful tactics themselves to attract shoppers and pull them from the other competitors in the area. Do you remember when Wal Mart had layaway or when they would stay open very late during the holidays when there were other stores competing for the OUR business? Well, they do not offer those services anymore. Since Kmart, Ames, Rex's--and several more businesses have all left as a result of Wal Marts arrival! It had a domino effect then and it will now!
Lets talk Aldis and Save a Lot for starters. If you really think about it, it is also possible for places like Licata Optical to suffer as well. Or how about the Sub Way across from Auto Zone or better yet, Auto Zone? And just think about it, Wal Mart and Sams Club have already gotten us hooked, so no need to actaully earn our hard working dollars with good quality, good customer service, friendliness and a clean kept store. The work has already been done for them using a few of their own tactics! Ever wonder why Wal Mart just suddenly stopped carrying quite a few products in their store when clearly there was a demand for them? Guess you can get it at a Super Wal Mart. A cheap tactic to get public support maybe? I know I've always wondered that..... Cheaper prices? In my opinion, by time you go through the entire store, you will have spent more money by the time you leave the register....
Opposed to Super Wal Mart

Anonymous said...

"Is it just me or have several stores gone out of business following Wal Mart's initial arrival?"

is it just me or have several grocery stores gone out of business follwing tops expansion?

is it just me or have several department stores gone out of business following bad decisions from the head office?

is it just me or is tops the only true grocery store in town because they bought the only compitition?

is it me or did Rex's open after walmart arrived?

is it me or did home depot open after walmart arrived?

is it me or did niagara county produce expand into the city after walmart arrived?

is it me or did office max open after walmart arrived?

is it me or did aldi open after walmart arrived?

is it me or did sears hardware open after walmart arrived?

is it me or did tops only expand when walmart was coming to town?

is it me or does tops have a monopoly so no need to actually earn our hard working dollars with good quality, good customer service, friendiness and a clean kept store?

opposed to people who like to decide what everyone else should think or do

the only place that closed their doors specifically due to walmart (and it really was due to the new walmart & larger tops) was a yellow goose

so there goes that theory

Anonymous said...

no response to being called out on your lies?

that's what we always get from you types. lies.

Anonymous said...

walmart sucks, their help is non-existent, their stores look like factories (unlike Target), they discriminate against women, BUT ... it's as classy a place as Lockport deserves!

Anonymous said...

well, we got you to help classy up the place

MJ said...

Tops does not look all the much better for the premium paid.

Why are we not beating up the dollar stores, Save-a-lots and Aldis for cutting costs? Hell you even have to buy the bags at Aldis/Save-a-Lot? Are they union? Do they provide awesome health care and wages?

Anonymous said...

must have struck a nerve up there! I am not lying and a few of those businesses didnt survive their opening and we are not talking about our rinky dink wal mart are we? How will those stores do that came in "after" wal mart rate when its a Super Wal Mart? Such as aldis, save a lot and yes niagara produce? Who knows home depot may take a hit as well. Again it is a Super Walmart! And by the way, they are coming regardless! I just had a few things to say about Wal Mart and those were MY opinions not Tops! I happen to think Wal Mart is just as manipulative and that was the only comparison I made between the two!

Anonymous said...

you struck a nerve because you lie

you struck a nerve because you think you know what's best for us

you struck a nerve because for some stupid reason you think that anyone who isnt walmart needs to be protected

lockport is not a microcosm... lockport's walmart did not cause ames to go into bankruptcy after buying hills (which went into bankruptcy)

there's a whole world of retail out there that's not walmart that's causing problems for EVERYONE. it's called the internet. you may have heard of it.

look at borders books. do you think that walmart caused them to go bankrupt as well?

old, outdated business models die just like they should. or are you still bitching about the lack of buggy whip stores downtown?

ps did you bitch when home depot arrived saying that it was going to shut down spalding and valu as well?

Anonymous said...

i almost forgot... only rex "didn't survive their opening" (if by opening you mean a few years time period). rex was a tiny overpriced store using an outdated model that rented space in a dying concept. boo freakin hoo

and walmart didn't even sell the same range of electronics and appliances that rex did, so they were not even a direct competitor. duh.

walmart didn't kill the lockport cinema (another popular meme)... the owner killed it by turning it into a tiny screened dump, big screen hdtv's killed it, regal killed it.

Anonymous said...

The mall stores were all kicked out for Walmart, they didn't go out of business. Ask Mr. Phatman--

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