15 Sep 2014
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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

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

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.

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