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UPDATE: Lowe's Will Not Open in Petaluma, Developer Says

Home improvement company yesterday announced closure of 20 existing stores and a scaling back on new openings

This article was updated 12:58pm Tuesday, inserting comments from Mayor Dave Glass

Home improvement store Lowe’s will not be opening in Petaluma, citing an inability to acquire entitlements for the project more than two years after the development application was submitted. 

The news comes a day after the North Carolina-based retailer announced it would close 20 underperforming stores around the country and scale back the number of new stores over the next year due to lowered sales. Lowe's stock price has dropped over the past 6 months from a high of $27.5 per share in March to $17.50 in August.

Despite the news, Merlone Geier, the developer behind the , said the project would still move forward, hopefully with another home improvement retailer.

“The EIR (Environmental Impact Report) is not specific to Lowe’s,” said Marko Mlikotin, a spokesman for Merlone Geier. “There is a need for this project, but any retailer we approach needs to be assured that there is the political support for the project.”

Mlikotin called the decision a setback for the community, but said a made it clear residents want a home improvement store in town. According to the survey, funded by the developer, 63 percent of Petaluma residents support the project, which proposes to build office and retail space along with an anchor home improvement store.

“Had the project moved along according to its timeline, it could have to broken ground in spring 2010…It’s imperative that the project move forward, so we can go to other home improvement retailers. Every year, Petaluma loses $27 million of potential home improvement sales to neighboring communities.”

The figure comes from an Urban Decay Analysis that was part of the Draft Environmental Impact Report published this March.

But Mayor David Glass said the figure is wrong, because even if Lowe's could generate $27 million in sales, the city would get only 1 percent of the revenue--$270,000 a year.

"There is no way it represents $27 million and I wish they (developer) would not keep miscommunicating messages and blaming people for what instead needs to be run through a proper review," Glass said.

"The information they are putting out there is that they thought the project was shovel ready and it’s not. The city did nothing more than live up to the consistency of the General Plan and look at the impacts, which are significant."

The changed plans represent an opportunity for a company like Friedman's to move into the space, and may be better for the community in the long run, Glass said. Friedman's currently has stores in Santa Rosa, Sonoma and Ukiah.

The Planning Commission is scheduled to vote on the Final EIR for the Deer Creek Shopping Center in November, followed by a vote by City Council in December.

Christopher Fisher October 18, 2011 at 11:48 PM
Thanks for an informative piece of breaking news. It's very interesting to note the differences in content, headline, intro paragraphs and context between your piece and the PD's. Ya might almost begin to suspect the PD's got some kind of agenda...... http://www.pressdemocrat.com/article/20111018/articles/111019522
Frank Simpson October 18, 2011 at 11:51 PM
The second paragraph seems to be the honest explanation as to why Lowe's is not coming to Petaluma. The reason reported in the first paragraph is so much fluff.
Chad M. October 19, 2011 at 01:21 AM
The headline and intro paragraph for both articles is pretty similar. The PD has quotes from a counsel member who is supportive of the project and one who is not. Patch article just has a counsel quote from someone against it... so you can easily make the case that Patch has some kind of agenda too...
John.Maher October 19, 2011 at 02:33 AM
Simpson is Frank in more ways than one. Smart guy that Frankie.
TAS October 19, 2011 at 03:39 AM
We don't need a national chain store like Lowes. If anything, let's have Freidmans come in. At least they are locally owned right here in Sonoma County.
Roy Bean October 19, 2011 at 03:50 AM
Why??
Roy Bean October 19, 2011 at 03:54 AM
The Friedman Brothers should have been the first and only option. They have thier roots here.Mis Raices Estan Aqui !!
OldAs Dirt October 19, 2011 at 03:56 AM
While it may be "fluff" to soften some difficult corporate news, Lowes took the time to specifically point out the delays seen with the project. That's Petaluma's reputation with business; no sense of urgency - just a wall of delays, leverage, and even greenmail.
John.Maher October 19, 2011 at 04:21 AM
Definition of greenmail: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Greenmail
Chad M. October 19, 2011 at 04:26 AM
Would like to see Freidmans take the old Yardbirds location. If Home Depot couldn't keep it open, who's to say that a much larger location would fair any better? Sure it would be convenient to have a huge warehouse store, but I have a hard time believing it would have enough business 5-10 minutes south of Home Depot and Lowe's.
Barry Kruse October 19, 2011 at 05:37 AM
Nice to know that Petaluma is upholding community standards. Two head shops downtown. Tattoos and massage parlors are just fine. Gambling is fine too. But a home improvement store would absolutely attract the wrong kind of clientele. Way to go, Petaluma!
Petalumasaurus October 19, 2011 at 11:26 AM
Sure Lowes cited delays. Wouldn’t that be better for them than suggesting it was their own internal failures? And it's a lot better for the developer to cry political foul than it would be to say "Lowes backed out due to lack of financial uncertainty... but, hey, we've got a GREAT opportunity for the next player who wants to make a go of it." It's similar to the story reported by North Baltimore Patch on the same day about Lowes pulling out of another proposed development -- blame the local politics, when this is about shedding new store openings. http://northbaltimore.patch.com/articles/association-president-walmart-still-supporting-25th-street-station I don't like the political ridiculousness that goes on here around development. But let's get real: This is about Lowes making sweeping changes to shore up same-store sales, and a lack of confidence in their ability to meet their sales goals. It could be so much worse; Read a story about one of the 20 stores that they just closed. Most of them are less than 5 years old. Now THAT would suck.
Patrick M. October 19, 2011 at 03:10 PM
Yes, let's all get together and celebrate this development (or lack of it). I know; let's have a celebration picnic next to the trash fillled green pond at the community center that the city cannot afford to maintain.
Realistic Petaluman October 19, 2011 at 03:28 PM
David Glass, they keep blaming you because you keep coming up with ridiculous crap to stop any development in this town, you tractor-chasing, city-employee-screaming maniac of a loose cannon. Watch for Glass to take a page out of Torliatt's playbook now that Lowe's is gone - issue a press release touting that Friedman's is in talks to take over the site, giving him the cover to vote for the project with his anti-bigbox friends, then after voting yes, have Friedman's pull out saying negotiations have failed (if they even were ever serious). She did the same thing with Friedman's and Regency and you can be sure she's pulling Glass's puppet strings on this one.
Craig Marston October 19, 2011 at 03:51 PM
Freidmans will not get better treatment from " save Petaluma" they will cause all the same Traffic, air pollution, noise, flooding, wetland destruction, global warming, rising sea levels, lack of public transit , bike paths and missle targets. Yes, all of these are concerns, but why does our city leaders feel the need to solve all the worlds problems with every development ? some balance ?
Bradford A Morris October 19, 2011 at 05:41 PM
Thank's city of Petaluma for making it so hard and not issuing the go ahead ( permits ) back two years ago. This city is really good to cry poor and then chase any money coming they way --- away. When the housing market is good and can sell my house for a good , fair price I will leave this town. The people running it are so stupid! I am tried of waiting and seeing all other towns advancing unlike Petaluma. Keep saying no to every permit you get and watch this town die!
Kari Popovic October 19, 2011 at 06:21 PM
Wow. Lemme get this straight: Lowes is closing 20 stores...not terribly unusual in this crap economy, lots of other companies are closing stores as well...but it's somehow Petaluma Government's fault that Lowes is deciding NOT to build a store here...even though there's one five minutes away on the freeway. Huh?
Frank Simpson October 19, 2011 at 06:57 PM
Hah! Congrats! You've sorted out the "logic" of the situation (or should I say "illogic?" of the argument. Welcome...again...to Petaluma :-)
Roy Bean October 19, 2011 at 07:50 PM
For the last 20 or so years the city council has been against business of any kind as well as development. And for the life of me I can't understand why the people keep voting these worthless people into office.
Roy Bean October 19, 2011 at 08:02 PM
Almost 60,000 residents and this is the horse pucky we get? A city of this size needs to have a certain number of large corporations to be solvent and we do not have the leadership or a forward thinking population to do this. It seems to me after attending various public meetings over the last decade that most people in Petaluma are the "NOT IN MY BACKYARD" crowd. No to big business,no to youth sports facilities and no to development. But we do get a road diet every now and then.
OldAs Dirt October 19, 2011 at 08:08 PM
Yes, because if Petaluma had a development cycle that wasn't anti-business, both the Lowes and the Target would be generating sales tax revenue already. Lowes doesn't close a store unless it's underperforming. Do you think the only home center between Bodega Bay and San Rafael would have underperformed? Why would Friedmans add overhead that may cannibalize the business from Sonoma or Santa Rosa? It's better for them to have no Petaluma store - theirs or anyone else. Cotati Lowes is only 5 minutes away during hours it isn't open if you do 90MPH to get there.
Petaluma Seer October 20, 2011 at 07:39 AM
Gee, maybe Lowe's pulled out because it realized that in a recent poll, only 189 registered voters wanted them to come here, in a city of 31,143 registered voters, (that's actually only .006% of Ptown voters), wasn't a viable choice economically for them. Maybe they added that to the fact that Yardbirds and Home Depo couldn't financially survive here. So, that would just be good idea on their part, for them to pull out, just like they did in Sacramento a couple of years ago. BTW, that was also a development by Merlone Greier. I stated this in front of the Council back then, quoting that Sacramento Newspaper news release, about Lowe's pull out and about how that project was very similiar to MG's Petaluma proposed project. It's the corporate Big Box retail business people! Stop blaming the local government for protecting our assetts. Remember when you wanted Borders and Circuit City? You can thank our Council members and Commissioners now people for doing their best for us.
Roy Bean October 20, 2011 at 02:42 PM
I am a little tired of the "BIG BOX" crowd. What about ALL the LITTLE BOXES that flourish and employ all kinds of people from our community. The "BIG BOX" is the anchor. Tunnel vision oy vey.
paul francis October 20, 2011 at 08:02 PM
Interesting set of comments on this story all of them are relevant to a certain degree. Yet, I don't see one comment that addresses the fundamental issue regarding large scale retail development. The problems that Petaluma is facing are the same set of issues that cities all across the state and all across the country are dealing with. Petaluma like many other cities have painted themselves into their economic corners by chasing "zoning for dollars" dreams. Conceptually, the fiscal viability of the Bigbox corporate chain model has always been in question -are they really profitable for communities? This is a question that has been difficult to study and even more difficult to quantify. Mainly because the big corporations consider the information that is required to conduct a comprehensive economic analysis "proprietary" and have refused to provide researchers with the data. Case in point, a employee at the state board of equalization, told me his department could not release RST data to the public because they've been threaten by the retail corporations not to.
paul francis October 20, 2011 at 08:03 PM
The Bigbox retail land-use model is obsolete, it's dead. Since the downturn of the economy, what we've seen is that communities are now realizing that granting subsidies and entitlements to these big chains; has indeed NOT paid off. The problems that Petaluma faces are systemic, the city is in a "planning crisis". There is a complete lack of proper planning for the future. Like in many other cities in CA, the systems of land-use, planning, and fiscal operations of our city are not working together in a comprehensive manner. We can't build our way out of this problem.
paul francis October 20, 2011 at 09:19 PM
Realistic Petaluman, sounds like you have an axe to grind with Glass and Torliatt, eh? I've seen postings on 360 and Patch calling Glass and Torliatt "no-growth", "anti- development", etc. etc. Unfortunately, these types of statements have very little to do with the reality at hand. There is no such thing as "no-growth" here. Growth and development is happening all around us, and future growth is inevitable. The issue we should be concerning ourselves with is - how is it all going to unfold? Also, do we have the leadership to plan for a well designed community and economically viable city? After all, we're paying for it, (I'm sure most of you have receive water rate increase notices?). Placing a "no-growth" label, as if derogatory, on Glass and the others is ridiculous. It's just another part of the blanket of lies cast upon our community by the local press to distract us from the real problems we face as a growing community. Glass is a Muni-Bonds broker for heaven's sake, It's in his own self interest and the interest of his profession to usher in development. We need to start looking at how we can make these large projects better for our community -this means, least amount of impacts on us -with the highest economic return for our city!
Bookworm October 20, 2011 at 10:00 PM
Hey, if you want to live in Big Box Land, move to Santa Rosa or Rohnert Park, or San Jose. I will be happy if Friedman's moves in. I am tired of corporations with no interest but money growing all around like cancers. They take money out of the community and ship it to their stockholders, all the while advertising how they care about our communities. Local is the way to go. Glad the city council is supporting local business. It is also a lie that communities that pander to mega-corporations are prosperous. Long term, that doesn't work.
OldAs Dirt October 21, 2011 at 08:11 PM
You're confusing the issue of big box stores with outsiders. Friedmans store in Santa Rosa is only slightly smaller than Lowes thanks to no appliances, a narrower product selection, and less readily available inventory. Many would not consider those features, but rather disadvantages. Jobs put money in the community, taxes put money in the community, business traffic brings money into the community. Residents taking their money to other cities is almost always a loss (save gambling, drugs, crime).
Petaluma Seer October 22, 2011 at 07:38 AM
Holloween question of the week. Is this property a "field of dreams promised land" or "cursed land"? Has anyone ever seen a building on the proposed development property? If so, do you have a picture? The Indians productively used that land to row their canoes down and fish on that creek. Were any Indians buried there? For over 30 yrs. politicians hitched their campaign promises on the building of a Rainier Interchange. Political signs and terms have come and gone. Political activists have mused over it, and Cal Trans has decreed it too close to a prior Interchange, with only one possible expensive build, and ... no build remains. A banking firm DSL, pitched a project with shopping, and homes, only to be overtaken by their own employees via lawsuit of corporate greed and DSL lost it.. MGP bought it for pennies on the dollar. Their potential commercial clients are dwindling in this economy due to downsizing. So, you can blame the local govt. if you want, but much of this land's fate is unrelated. Although missed in the scant, outdated biological EIR, one can come by in the day and watch the various types of predatory birds that live there, flying overhead, and diving for prey. In the eve. you may see and feel the flash of bats. You can come and see all of this for yourself, but do not step on the property! The developers forbid it while already threatening to arrest, even our Mayor, and a former Council member for tresspassing on this forbidden land! Happy Holloween people!
Christopher Fisher October 23, 2011 at 06:12 PM
Chad - my comments were based upon the original piece, as posted at 11:12 am. It had none of the context and commentary you referred to, leaving it blatantly one-sided. That the PD was willing for that piece to function as 'news' until it was updated, is telling - they don't want to be 'scooped' by other news providers, so they put out what they considered the significant stuff first, which read more like a Merlone Geier press release. I'd be happy to send you the original piece separately if you like, for comparison. Credit should be given to Carter and the PD for updating the piece several times on Tuesday and Wednesday, with the final piece being a much improved piece of news, with plenty of context. In other words, more like the original Patch piece. Contrary to your point - the original Patch piece had the Merlone Geier spokesperson's comments, but no commentary by those opposed to the development. Mayor Glass's comments were inserted later. But the original piece still had enough context to be a considerably more illuminating piece than the PD's. And yes, I'm certain the Patch has an agenda as well - they would love to scoop the PD, and in this case it did with a superior initial article. The PD's final piece may be the more informative and detailed in the final analysis, and that's the one that appeared in the paper the next day.

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