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Tayfromcarolina

Big Box Retailers in the Triangle... bad news?

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^ Good points. It's not the big boxes existing, per se (well, except perhaps Walmart's business practices but that's an entirely different post). It's often where they're built and how they're built that really irks most of us, I suspect. There are great exceptions, of course. North Hill's Target, South Square's Target & Sams, and Raleigh's Costco are all great in that they took previously developed land well inside the city and built there. (And some credit goes to North Hill's JCPenney for not giving into temptation and moving to Triangle Towne Center, as well as to Chapel Hill's Dillards for not moving to Southpointe.)

Contrast this to the vast majority of big boxes that are out on the fringes, increasing suburban sprawl and tearing down more forests, wetlands or farmland.

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I think if the Triangle's communities are really serious about turning their downtowns into living, working, breathing places, they ought to start saying no when Home Depot and Wal-Mart and friends look to expand in the area.

When a big box comes to town, they're always claiming that they're going to create jobs. In most cases though, counties that welcomed big boxes have fewer total retail jobs than places with lots of independent businesses. And those jobs are generally lower paid. Big boxes also siphon money out of communities. When you buy towels at Bed Bath & Beyond, a tiny percentage of that money goes to the store's workers, and that's about it. Independent businesses tend to advertise locally, hire local accountants, buy from local producers, and so on.

Big box stores are indeed convenient, cheap, and have plenty of free parking. And they're always bragging about their everyday low prices. They never tell the stories of the hundreds of family-owned hardware stores, bookstores, and grocery stores they put out of business though.

Sadly, as the Triangle grows outward, there's likely going to be more demand for retail, and it's going to come in the form of chains and big boxes no doubt.

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Its rather dismal that the so called "brain power" of the RTP metropolitan area still acts idiotic when it comes to smart development (well at least the developers and politicians seem to be backward in their vision). I know, I know, there are plenty of contradictions already up, being constucted, or on blueprints. Yet, overall its pretty dismal. Of course 540 would bring the same ole "status quo good ole boy" development, that goes against all the sustainable and smart growth principles. There is no reason Wake County, can't be home to 3 to 4 million people, and I mean that with all my native Eastern North Carolina blood. At least two million for all you "it'll never happen" naysayers

People should recognize that Wake County is larger than New York City, I believe twice as large in square mileage. Yet, the land is wasted and not maximized to its full potential. The land is cheap yes. But, the developers are even cheaper!....There are ways to develop 306 acres! without the usual ocean of asphalt and sprawl. People can still shop at their big box stores, but there would be parking decks (either above or besides the stores, green roofs, sidewalks, outside plazas connected to bike path which connect to parks and residential areas. And still have land leftover. I'm even more radical, in that I want to see the Big Boxers be required or least explore ways for residential condos or apartments can be built above the stores. Raleigh and Wake County is not Mayberry, it is a growing metropolitan area, and people need to realize, whether they've been here a long time or are newcomers, that sacrificing land inefficiently to attract business is not the path to take IMHO.

Of course, the Pink and Neon Green Elephant in room is the absence of a regional rail, which is a whole other thread. However, if it can be determined where future rail stops may go, then those sites and areas around them should be zoned for dense development. Similar to whats been done recently in Fairfax County, VA, where the County Board has determined that a 1/2 mile radius of all metro rail stops should have a certain high density, and then a 1 mile radius a slightly lower density. Just go ahead and plan for these things, so when the transportation infrastructure does arrive it'll be in good company. Thats my 3 cents.

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Sorry for my last post that intermixed "sales" as a temporary reduced price and "sales" as exchanging products for money. I am a few years removed from that work, and there is a different way of seeing things from being in the retail industry vs. being on the front lines of the retail/service sector.

When new Targets opened at TTC, Brier Creek, and White Oak (40/70 in Garner), existing stores on Capitol Blvd, Lynn/Glenwood, and 70/Hammond Road stayed open but staffing was significantly reduced. The older stores are kept open to maintain shopping patterns and they signed long term leases. Stores are shiny and new when they first open, but slowly lose their "newness". And if one store sells out of something they can refer customers to another location instead of the competition.

Opening new locations does little more than warehousing inventory and keeping land under their control at the cost of putting more space between everything else. The time of day whne things are sold also affects staffing levels. On weekdays, the majority of sales occur after 5, so that is when a lot of shifts start. Stores don't stay open till 1, so all of those employees don't get eight hours of work. When Target changed its closing time from 10 to 9 pm on Sundays, it saved a lot of money. A new store opening also results in tax breaks in return for jobs created from the employment security commission.

I don't know why Target has been reluctant to go to self checkout, but I think it is a combination of want to provide friendly guest service and trying to push their lucerative credit card business (you can save 10 percent today and your next purchase if you sign up!). As far as checking out the competition, Wal-mart seemed to shop Target a lot more than the other way around. They weren't at all conspicuous about it -- wearing wal-mart t-shirts as a way to advertise *in* the competition's store.

The North Hills Target should be the standard, but unfortunately is the exception. There is a parking deck in the TTC, but it is not near any of the major shopping areas and is never used outside of the holiday shopping season.

I think there should be big box stores, but they should *suppliment* smaller stores, not *replace* them. I like the Seaboard Ace Hardware and Capital City Grocery, but know they don't have the shelf space to stock everything I need. For those items, I'll stock up at a big box store maybe once a month, not once a week. I value my shopping and traveling time, so if I know i can pop in and out for a paint brush or gallon or milk, then I'll go to the smaller store.

For Dana's posterboard/markers example, was that a function of a) stores not carrying them at all, or b) a sudden, unanticipated demand for those items, taking otherwise available markers off the market? Office Depot might have been the first store to stock the item due to its location as much as due to its larger inventory.

The shopping experience is different for "needs" and "wants". I don't mind getting a huge thing of toilet paper or paper towels, and expect to pay less since fewer hands are needed to deliver/stock the bigger package than an individual/single roll. But as a single person (at least for the next couple of weeks), I can't justify the industrial sized containers of condiments, cleaning supplies, etc.

For "wants" like books, music, video games, etc., it depends on what I'm getting. I would rather shop at a Quail Ridge books/Regulator (or even Reader's Corner/Nice Price/Ed McKay's) than Barnes and Noble/Borders since they know more about local authors, etc.

For media (music, movies, and books), general merchandise big boxes only stocks "best sellers", *creating* the market instead of *supplying* it. There is some cost savings by buying in volume, but there is a hidden agenda that serves the producer a lot more than the end consumer. Publishers provide discounts in exchange for being in the "best seller" and/or "new releases" area. Media not in these categories get only a couple of copies per store, so a large number of units sold becomes *impossible*. "Best seller" becomes a self-fufilling prophecy! Even Target's "upcoming artists" area is paid placement/advertising/marketing. Kind of like the Idiocracy version of "Starbucks".

The smaller stores can't stock everything (and I'm not good about following up with special orders) so I'll make the pilgrimage to a barnes and noble/best buy, but not target/wal-mart. If Wal-Mart had its way, Barnes and Noble and Best buy wouldn't be options.

All of this has combined to make it so that to turn a profit in retail, you need volume or markup. Volume only happens at the big box stores, and markup occurs in luxury brands. This creates huge barriers to entry that consolidates existing competion and keeps new players out. The big players can afford to lose a dollar today to make five dollars every year going forward. A generation was led to belive they were buying things "made in the USA" by wal-mart. Then suddenly you *can't* buy something made in the USA even if you are willing to pay more. Despite the warehouse-sized stores, there is no shelf space available for domestically made, non-perishable goods.

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People should recognize that Wake County is larger than New York City, I believe twice as large in square mileage. Yet, the land is wasted and not maximized to its full potential.

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I think the fallacy here is that development is like a pile of sand. You can put more in the middle, but it will increase the footprint inevitably. NYC is bounded by water, but we shouldn't think of that being its real boundary. The real like to that giant pile of sand extends as hundreds of miles of sprawl that encompassed many, many small towns in surrounding states.

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That's only one fallacy of many in this thread. But pointing them out isn't going to do you any good.

Personally, I'm amazed that people will complain in one thread that condos downtown cost more than $200/sf, then insist that we should build at that density all over town. I mean, let's talk about what a 500sf apartment in Manhattan or Tokyo costs to rent per month.

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Well if you want to talk about fallacies.....quick note..entry level condos downtown are now 300/sqft

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Isn't deck parking about $40,000 per space now? (as per the Site 1 figures) I'd love to see stuff out there stack up like North Hills, but that's a really expensive way to build. NH does have an uncomfortable number of vacancies right now. Three store sites have never been leased.

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Here's a downside of big box retailers, when they either shut down for good or move to a new location they leave their empty shells behind. In relatively desirable locations they get filled quickly while other areas aren't so lucky. Here are a few pictures of vacant stores in the area, kinda sad actually...from left to right

1. Best Store off Hillsborough Rd in Durham, closed 1996, 11 years later never been reoccupied, currenly used by Duke for parking

2. Same store as #1, note the sign posting their hours hasn't been removed since the store closed in 1996.

3. K-Mart off Avondale Drive in Durham, closed in 2002, still vacant 5 years later

4. Wal-Mart off Churton St in Hillsborough, closed in I believe 2003, the Wal-Mart letters have been taken off the building since this picture and Dollar Tree is now occupying a small portion of the former store, otherwise still vacant in the middle of a busy corridor.

Imagine if someone took a photo-tour of all the vacant stores off Capitol, that would be a very long thread lol

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^ Good points. It's not the big boxes existing, per se (well, except perhaps Walmart's business practices but that's an entirely different post). It's often where they're built and how they're built that really irks most of us, I suspect. There are great exceptions, of course. North Hill's Target, South Square's Target & Sams, and Raleigh's Costco are all great in that they took previously developed land well inside the city and built there. (And some credit goes to North Hill's JCPenney for not giving into temptation and moving to Triangle Towne Center, as well as to Chapel Hill's Dillards for not moving to Southpointe.)

Contrast this to the vast majority of big boxes that are out on the fringes, increasing suburban sprawl and tearing down more forests, wetlands or farmland.

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Are there any empty shells in Raleigh? I can't think of any off the top of my head. The only thing that comes to mind is the Lowe's Foods at Six Forks and Wake Forest.

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Really if we want development to be good then municipal governments should bear the burden for "public" parking, instead developers. So lets throw out the parking code and let the fun begin for dense, walkable developent!

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Are there any empty shells in Raleigh? I can't think of any off the top of my head. The only thing that comes to mind is the Lowe's Foods at Six Forks and Wake Forest.

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So when do you stop handing out free parking to people? My house has an office in it, and I want the City to pay for two extra parking spaces for when clients come over...is this ok? The idea that City's should provide free parking first exacerbates auto dependance and lowers density. Second, that the taxpaying public is directly paying for something that benefits a private development is nuts. In the case of TIFS it is worse, in that essentially taxes are being returned from the specific project in question to pay for the parking...in the case of North Hills, you are handing Kanes property taxes right back to him essentially above a set amount to pay off a parking deck. The City should be enabling dense walkable development via the planning and design review process.

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I didn't mention anything about free parking. The necessity of parking regulations stemmed from the affordability of the car and as a result, municipalities struggled with how to provide parking to the masses and failed to keep up. So regulations were developed to shift the burden of the public to the private sector to provide parking. Hence our current wasteland that we live in now. And even worst is that financing commercial projects have a tie into parking counts depending upon the size of the projects.

From Shoup's lecture back in November - there is definitely some things that need to be considered with parking regulations and charging for a parking spaces and sounds like Raleigh is going to look into revising the parking regulations.....hopefully. Of course if we had an efficient and reliable transit system we would not have to worry a lot about parking would we?

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Capitol Blvd. is not as bad as Independence Blvd. in Charlotte (I forgot I posted to that thread a year and a half ago!). I think the Plantation Inn, Gresham Lake, and Cheviott Hills, served as a buffer to concentrate development along Capitol inside 540. Otherwise big boxes could have continued ad nauseum to Franklinton and beyond.

If Wake Forest was closer to Raleigh (and closer to Capitol Blvd) the way Matthews is close to Southeast Charlotte and Independence Blvd., the Mini-City/Target area would have been left for dead years ago, leaving drive-through or in-and-out friendly outparcels like Taco Bell, Wachovia, and Boston Market. Even Hardee's has recently been razed near the Milbrook intersection.

Unlike the *unused* big boxes on Independence, there is a lot of *underused* property in the area. The string of used car lots between Peace and Wake Forest Road, the Flea Market Mall area, the car dealership on the SW Capitol/440 intersection, the former Dicks/PharMor/Marshalls/current Funiture Outlet shopping center, the Burlington Coat Factory anchored center, etc. And there have been a few good reuses, like the Best Buy near TTC. That shopping center was dead for years before TTC started coming out of the ground and 540 started marching east. There are some unused buildings, like the "Ramada" near Brentwood, partially invested in by the Soleil group, closed for years with no signs of life.

Since there aren't any other retail nodes/corridors in that area, everything seems to hang on somehow. In another reuse, the Asian (Korean ?) Market recently opened in the Brentwood shopping center that used to have a Harris Teeter and then an IGA on the east side of Capitol. I still don't know how the Taco Bell just north of 440 on Capitol survives. The same could be said of the shopping center formerly anchored by Home Quarters, then Mars Music, currently Tiger Direct. And the area supports two Targets (Capitol and TTC), two Food Lions (Mini City and Tiger Direct/Outback shopping center), a Lowes Home Improvement, a Home Depot, and Triangle Town Center.

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Yes, if we had good transit, hopefully we would not be so auto-dependant........here is what I quoted you on previously

What do you mean by municipal governments bearing the burden for providing public parking if not to provide it some fashion? If you mean build publicy owned and operated structured parking that is pay for use, I don't see where that is any different than any private developer doing just the same....the North Hills debate is loaded with the idea that the parking should be free, or that is how I understand it, and assume based on the fact that NH current deck is free such as its costs are absorbed by the commercial lease rates.

What you have arrived at without stating it is that the car really is not so affordable.....its use is subsidized by free on street parking everywhere, or paid for by you in the cost of groceries or whatever you buy wherever you are parking......if government had never incorporated parking into design requirements I am sure, as Greg Sandreuter has pointed out, developers would include it anyway to be viable....

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That is exactly what meant. The municipalities/local government entities building and operating a parking deck and the people who use it would pay for it. If the burden of building spaces was not the responsibility of the developer than possibly we would have better buildings in our downtowns and suburban areas. My thoughts that is if parking was operated as a public benefit then our development patterns would have been different. I see it as POD (parking oriented development), if you build it they will come. It would be the same notions of TOD ideas.

The notion of NH is a public handout for private benefit - and I am against it. But of course look at the subsidies handed out for economic development

I am sure developers would include parking in their projects but used as perks for being a tenant than as a public mandate/requirement.

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My bad. The city did of course build several parking decks downtown, Wilmington St, Moore Square, Convention Center (on south Wilmington) and the PE Center Deck (not sure who built the two just west of Two Hannover). In some fashion, at least near the regional centers, your idea may have merit....like say at TTC, the City says we'll only approve the site plan if you leave half the area green, in exchange we'll build and operate a parking deck for you.....this what you are thinking? These decks would still need to coincide with a major planned development and would need quite the proactive council -_-

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Soon it is going to be hard for Wal-Mart to build their super centers with the site capacity that they need, it will happen by necessity but we should have the foresight to make development better now than fix it later. And definitely we need the political will to do so.

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Capitol was one of the last "Walgreens-less" areas of town. The Wake Forest/Falls and New Bern stores leave just enough space in between those two locations. Target and possibly Lowes Foods have pharmacies, but that and the CVS near New Hope are the only drug counters for miles.

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