22 Aug 2014
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Lowe’s Trims New-Store Openings, But Poway City Manager Not Alarmed

Penny Riley says City Hall now in wait mode now that approvals has been put in place.

Lowe’s Trims New-Store Openings, But Poway City Manager Not Alarmed

It appears that Poway dodged a bullet, as far as that new Lowe’s home improvement store is concerned.

The Mooresville, N.C., company announced the closure of 20 underperforming stores in 15 states on Oct. 17.

In addition, Lowe’s said it is discontinuing a number of new-store openings, reducing the number in half, down to 10 to 15 a year, compared to 30 previously.

The revised schedule apparently won’t impact Lowe’s’ ongoing project in Poway, according to a spokeswomen for the company, though a start date for construction has not been set.

“Lowe’s purchased the land in Poway and secured our entitlements several months ago,” said Stacey C. Lentz, public relations manager for Lowe's. “However, we have no announcement to make about the beginning of construction on this site.”

On for a 121,000-square-foot store on property that now serves as home to and the now-shuttered Poway Chevrolet.

Toyota will move to a new location across from its current location, a move still awaiting City Council approval.

City Manager Penny Riley said the chain has not communicated with City Hall except as it pertains to entitlements and related approvals, and those are now all in place.

“It’s a private project, not a redevelopment project, so we don’t have an automatic” time frame for construction and opening, said Riley.

“We’re in a holding mode,” Riley added. “We’ve been working with Lowe’s for five years, so if it becomes a little slower then we’re OK with that.”

She said Lowe’s told city officials that it would take nine to 12 months to build the store once construction starts, but said the lack of a start date doesn’t strike her as unusual.

Riley also said that before construction begins, the Toyota dealer would have to move, which hasn’t occurred.

“There are a lot of pieces before everything can fall into place,” she said.

In addition to the main big-box store, Lowe’s is going to build a 32,000-square-foot garden plus a 4,500-square-foot restaurant on the 11-acre site.

The project could bring more than 170 permanent jobs to the city, and bolster the city’s sagging retail business sector.

A Dixieline lumber store in Poway Plaza closed in December, most likely because it would not be able to compete with a larger competitor so close by when the project is completed.

Lowe’s is the nation’s second-largest home improvement store chain, and has been struggling to boost its performance against Home Depot, the top home improvement store chain in the nation.

Lowe’s operates stores in Escondido and Mission Valley, the closest to Poway.

operates a store in the Poway Business Park, as well as off Mira Mesa Boulevard in San Diego at the Interstate 15 interchange.

Carlsbad-based retail consultant George Whalin said he’s not surprised that Lowe’s hasn’t announced a time schedule for opening.

“It’s a difficult period for all retailers,” he said.

He noted that retailers in California have a particularly difficult path to opening new stores because of all the regulatory hurdles and approvals required before the first shovel of dirt can be turned.

Whalin said Lowe’s has been seeking to build a store in Carlsbad for years, and still hasn’t gotten to the point where it can break ground.

“The things they have to go through is unbelievable,” he said.

He said Poway is fortunate in that the land has been purchased, all of the approvals are in place, and the project is ready to go.

“These things take time, and now the economy has thrown a monkey wrench into the process,” said Whalin. “So, a delay would not be that unusual.”

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