Lowe's meeting tonight - an incomplete and unfair playing field

The BRA is hosting another meeting about the proposed Lowe's tonight - 6:30 at the Jackson Mann.

If you want to read up on the proposal before the meeting, the Draft Project Impact Report is posted here. But the DPIR is a 687 page, 42.5 MB file. There is no way any Allston/Brighton resident in their spare time could ever come close to reading and analyzing the whole thing. Pretending that we can really have a fact-based discussion about the impacts of this project (such as transportation) does a disservice to the entire process. How much of the 206 page transportation section have you read?

Think this will be a net job creator and economic engine? Or will it take business away from the many businesses in Brighton that sell similar products? Has anyone with any expertise and independence studied this important question?

In other communities, developers have agreed to fund an independent study conducted by and for the community. Even Harvard agreed to fund a $150,000 independent study in exchange for the Phase One wavier from the State. This waiver allowed Harvard to proceed with the Science Complex construction without review of a master plan for what they thought would be the rest of their Allston build-out.

And all of this would be so much easier, less contentious, and more meaningful if the BRA had followed through with this idea for a neighborhood planning initiative. It sounded great 3 years ago, but then it silently vanished leaving us to these ad-hoc and uninformed debates.

Allston-Brighton Neighborhood Planning Initiative - Boston Redevelopment Authority
In 2007, the Boston Redevelopment Authority (“BRA”) held a series of
community workshops and meetings for the Allston-Brighton Neighborhood Planning Initiative ("ABNPI")...The ABNPI is a planning effort that will address various planning issues south of the Turnpike... The ABNPI will result in a report prioritizing short-term and long-term recommendations and serve as a guide for the City of Boston.

12 comments:

  1. One of my businesses is serving Home depot and Lowe's. I have another business selling to lumber yards and hardware stores.
    Most of the lumber yards and hardware stores that I sell to are still in business. The ones that failed were on the edge and the Big Box stores did them in.
    From a marketing point of view HD and Lowe's are close to each other. This seems to work because HD is more contractor orientated while Lowe's is more DIY.
    Traffic will increase but not to the point of hurting other businesses or dirupting neighborhoods.
    West Roxbury's main concern when HD came in was traffic. That was not the case.
    I would use leverage to see that they hire local people and beautify the area.
    Done right this can be a win win situation.

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  2. Hi John,

    Interesting ideas. Can you share with us the data that supports your conclusions?

    Harry

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  3. JohnT,
    Please provide us some data or information to back up your claims that increased traffic from Lowes will not considerably disrupt the area instead of just anecdotal evidence. Before you cite the data provided by the previous Lowes study, it is widely accepted that their study is considerably inaccurate. You cannot compare the location in West Roxbury with the location in Brighton because it is an entirely different infrastructure.

    Your claim in a prior post suggested this would be good for the area because it would provide jobs to local residents, but then you recant when the point is brought up that there is no guarantee that positions would be filled from local residents.

    I want to reiterate again that I am not against Big-Box Stores but there should be significant benefits to the local community before a Big-Box store of this magnitude is developed. There is a Home Depot down the street which provides basically the same services and goods as a Lowes, but I admit that is also a matter of opinion which we could argue all day about.

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  4. Harry, In order to provide data I would have to open my books. That is not going to happen. Talk to Model Hardware and Coolidge Hardware.
    Alex, I thought I explained the job situation. I said "would" you said "guarantee". HD and Loew's basically have the same services. I said that they go after two different clients.
    Look at HD and Lowe's locations. Most are near each other.
    I am not going to cite Lowe's numbers. I have my numbers which compare hardware stores before and after HD and Lowe's came into their areas.
    I used West Roxbury as an example of people using traffic as a reason. Once the newness is over traffic is very seldom a problem.
    I good example is IKEA. When they opened traffic was horrendous. Now nobody talks about it.
    I am going to make money with or without Lowe's. How about the unemployed who could use that job?

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  5. Lowe's predicts that there will be 175 permanent jobs. It will be built on 8 acres. That's 22 jobs per acre. Another way to think of it, there will be one person working on each 2,000 of land.

    If you really care about creating jobs, you should want office buildings. There is an average of 387 square feet per worker in office buildings, and if the office building was 6 stories tall, that would be 65 sq ft of land per job.

    So, using these rough estimates, office buildings on the same 8 acres would be home to a few THOUSAND jobs.

    Yes, those people would create more traffic, but a commuter rail stop would be a big help and there are places where more housing could be built in Allston and Brighton so more of those people could walk or bike to work.

    http://www.eia.doe.gov/emeu/consumptionbriefs/cbecs/pbawebsite/office/office_howmanyempl.htm

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  6. Actually if you spent the time investigating you would find most smaller hardware stores (Ace, True Value) actually do better once a larger stor opens up. Quincy is a perfect example, Curry Hardware has flourished since the Home Depot's opened up. As for the IKEA traffic if I recall a lot of that had to do with the fact that not all intersections and traffic signals were prepared and the police did a poor job directing traffic. But you are correct there is no issue today.

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  7. Jredmond11:51 AM

    The office tower always baffles me. It would not create jobs. If a 10 story office tower opened up all it would do is shift the demographics of jobs. When WEEI moved into the New Balance building they did not create jobs, they simply moved jobs from Needham to Brighton. The developer of an office tower reaches out to companies already in business with employees to move into their new building. If there was an office tower there it would be filled with companies moving for a lower lease agreement and coming with employees, most of who are probably not from Brighton. This does nothing for the individula looking for a job when an accounting firm moves from its high priced rent in downtown for cheaper space in Brighton and has no positions open!

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  8. Again, when comparing the West Roxbury and Brighton sites we are talking about totally different infrastructures. The West Roxbury site has several major routes coming and going around the Home depot site. The proposed Brighton location would only have a couple city streets to accompany traffic. Even the Watertown location is located off a major road, but still tends to get congested on above normal usage times. There is no evidence to support once the "newness" is over that the traffic will subside in the Brighton location.

    Not only would the general public going in and out of the site be a traffic concern, but there would be a significant increase in large trucks flowing in and out of the location. Large trucks tend to require more space to maneuver and drive which causes a whole other set of traffic issues when traveling on narrower city streets.

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  9. ptasker - I did spend some time investigating and I found this interesting study.

    http://ideas.repec.org/p/cen/wpaper/09-34.html

    "The entry and growth of Big-Box stores has a substantial negative impact on employment growth and survival of single unit and smaller chain stores that operate in the same detailed industry as the Big-Box."

    Could you share more about your investigation?

    Jredmond - Often companies move to new offices because they are growing and need more space for more employees.

    There is continual turnover of existing employees. As people leave and the company hires to fill those jobs, that does help people looking for new jobs.

    But you are right. There are some employees of WEEI who worked there before they moved to Brighton.

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  10. Anonymous2:04 PM

    The argument that companies only move to new office space to downsize is foolish. Most companies grow or go out of business. If that was not the case we would still be working out of caves not 50 story offce buildings.

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  11. Anonymous3:25 PM

    I have nothing against Lowe's as a company, but there has to be a better use of this space. It seems to me like granting approval for this is taking the easy way out. Isn't it worth the effort to work on bringing in a mixed-use project? Something that will offer a long term benefit to the neighborhood?

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  12. I tried to read that PDF but it melted my brain. My neighbors are all saying that part of the plan is to put a pike off-ramp (on-ramp?) at 214 Lincoln Street, which is currently the Green Building and DeNormandie Property. Is there any truth to that?

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