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Yes to Lowes

December 10, 2008

 I have considered all sides of the projected Lowes Development, and I agree that the City of Holyoke, All elected officials and the residents of Holyoke, should welcome Lowes Development with open arms.

 The Whiting Farms Rd. site is semi residential and mostly industrial, the tax revenue generated by not only Lowes, but other businesses in the proposed development will be paying licensing fees and business tax.

 Questions have been raised about the development of that area when the city needs to be concentrating on the Downtown area, which I do agree it does need serious help, but with what money?

 Would any business relocate to a revitalized downtown area, with Holyoke’s severe Anti-business climate? To have a development that actually wants to come in and pay the high property taxes that Holyoke charges is rare enough. but to decline them that development based on a few neighbors that are with the anywhere in holyoke, but not near my street.

 I would dare to say that alot of these people, are the same people that run to the assessors office every year filing abatements on their property taxes.

 Lowes has proven to be a great business partner in City after City, some residents have brought up how Lowes paid the Town of Hadley $410,000 to build the Lowes up there. Holyoke should not require one red cent in a sublime payoff, we should just expedite the building of this project.

 The state is broke, the city costs keep escalating year after year, the property values are falling, which in turn will lower the tax revenue of the City.

Lowes will not be the Savior to the city, but it will help prolong the inevitable of Prop 2 1/2 overrides that we will facing shortly.

 As far as the Downtown are I recommend that we put a percentage of the Lowes Tax Revenues into a special fund to be used only for the improvement of the downtown business district, and a higher percent after the current recession is over.

 And why is it ok to dump trash on the low income latino population with the waste transfer station, but when a company wants to move a national business into a Industrial Zoned area, close to a middle class primarily white neighborhood its not ok?

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9 Comments leave one →
  1. Stan Geddes permalink
    December 10, 2008 10:23 am

    Hi Mr/Mrs Not So Cheery
    The idea that Holyoke is anti business is an often heard but rarely substantiated claim. Holyokes problems are best explained by the disappearance of the manufacturing base across the USA. American business has moved offshore in the hope of lowering the cost of doing business AND to increase profits for owners and share holders. Some business has migrated south largely for the same reason. But these are temporary solutions and they are largely motivated by money above people. We have come to pray at the alter of economics while the creation of a civil society has been relegated to the scrap heap.
    The global economy has its limits. Capital can only move so far. But we are going to fetishise expansionism for at least a few more decades before we return to the age old concept of a locally based economic system. One that is not only economically viable but ecologically sustainable.
    Stan

  2. holyokenow permalink*
    December 10, 2008 1:53 pm

    Hi Stan,

    Thanks for your comments, its Mr. Not so cheery, I am not here to substantiate claims that Holyoke is anti-business, It is just that anytime a company wants to come to Holyoke, It’s always not in my neighborhood, and we need to hold more public meetings after 30 (insert sarcasm) of them.

    I agree that the disappearance of manufacturing jobs contribute to the decline, But what is the real fault of that? I know some people that are looking for jobs and would be happy making $8-10 an hour. So I cannot truly believe that it is labor rates that are driving them away.

    Here is the perfect example. During the Auto Bailout hearings this week, one of the news agencies had a spokesman for UAW on for an interview.

    One of the questions asked was, what if one of the UAW members wanted to moved down south to work at Toyota for $17 an hour. So you see UAW assemblers average about $27 an hour, while at Toyota they pay $17. I know even more people in Holyoke that would work for $17.

    The UAW rep’s response was that he hoped they would stay with UAW.

  3. John Brunelle permalink
    December 10, 2008 10:57 pm

    Jobs, Traffic Improvements, Increased Tax base. YES!

    No matter how hard we may try to deny it or hope it away, it can’t be ignored. Layoffs, home foreclosures and depleted savings are all constant reminders that our nation’s economy is in shambles. Businesses in Holyoke are enacting layoffs every month.

    Yet in the face of the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression national retailer, Lowe’s Home Improvement, has decided it wants to call Holyoke home. Lowe’s is looking to build on an 18+ acre parcel of land on Whitings Farm road owned by the Holyoke Gas and Electric Department.

    The benefits of this project in Holyoke are many. The project will create approximately 145 needed, new jobs. Over half of the jobs will be fulltime. The remainder will be flexible, part-time jobs, which will benefit students, stay at home parents, seniors, or anyone looking to supplement their household income. The additional retail spaces that will accompany this project will also bring an additional 20 to 40 full- and part-time jobs.

    Once Lowe’s completes the permitting process with a needed approval thru site plan review, which is public hearing process, the developer will pay $3 million dollars to the Holyoke Gas and Electric Department (HG&E). That $3 million can be used for capital project and city improvements, including helping with traffic in the Whitings Farm, Ingleside area. In this or any economy, where else is Holyoke going to find $3 million for city improvements and investment? The utility use by Lowe’s alone will generate another $300,000 in annual payments to HG&E.

    Lowe’s will also pay the City of Holyoke approximately $350,000 in tax revenue each and every year. An extra $350,000 on our tax rolls each year can certainly help to stablilize our tax base, maintain our schools, protect our neighborhoods, and make traffic improvements.

    If the zone change passes the city council, the developer will still have to go through the site plan permitting process, which requires the Developer and Lowe’s to mitigate and improve traffic conditions on Whiting Farms Road. The traffic on Whiting Farms Road has needed City attention for many years but no money has been available. Now we have the catalyst to make those long overdue changes.

    The Developer has agreed to work with the City’s traffic engineers, who are themselves just completing their own traffic improvement study, to design the most effective improvements possible for the area. For those who oppose Lowe’s on the basis of traffic, just remember that without Lowe’s, there is no catalyst or money for traffic improvements.

    In good economic times or bad, the opportunity to welcome Lowe’s to Holyoke is one that cannot be missed. In the midst of a recession, the idea of turning away 150-plus jobs, $350,000 a year in new taxes, $300,000 per year in utility revenues, a $3,000,000 windfall and the opportunity to resolve the traffic issues in this area seems ludicrous.

    In previous campaigns and on previous votes I have been very vocal about making sure our neighborhoods were protected from unwanted development that would be a determent to our ward and city. In this case the developer has been upfront with the city and residents of the area about their plans. They have spent many thousands of dollars that they were not required as part of the zone change permitting process. The developer completed traffic studies, produced conceptual plans and held two neighborhood meetings prior to submitting the zone change request.

    As the Ward Councilor for which this project is being proposed, I strongly support this zone change and encourage all my colleagues to vote in favor of the required zone change. I also encourage all the citizens of Holyoke to call or email your council members to vote in favor of this project. Let your voice be heard.

    Sincerely,

    John Brunelle
    Ward Five City Councilor

  4. holyokenow permalink*
    December 11, 2008 12:12 am

    Hi John,

    Thanks for your input, I agree with your position, one thing I would like to see is a percentage of the tax revenues generated by Lowes, to be put into a downtown revitalization fund, where businesses only in the downtown corridor, can tap into no or low interest loans or even grants based upon the needs and financial status of the business owner. This would allow property owners to beautify their property, corporations to develop projects, and give startup money to qualified applicants who have always dreamed of opening their own business, but otherwise could never do so.

    This should be done with all new developments in the City to facilitate a fund that would be large enough to include the Canal Walk Area as well.

    These funds should no way be used for other purposes, or diverted, and rolled over if a surplus exists at FY end.

    I think something along these lines would be a win-win for Lowes, the City, and the residents of our great city.

  5. December 17, 2008 10:48 pm

    Hi,

    I think that your idea about creating a fund for downtown out of the Lowe’s project is fantastic.

    I have also looked more into the case in Hadley and that $410,000 was paid to the city upon Lowe’s receipt of the building permit. This is really important to understand because it means that all the negotiating took place up front– before the zone change was granted.

    This is where Holyoke is at in its process and I think it would be foolish to move forward without securing similar negotiations. The zone change is the only place where Holyoke can leverage for incentives– if we want to negotiate after the zone change is completed the city could risk a liability because the developers would have a “right to build” at that point.

    I am looking into these contract laws some more to find out how Holyoke works compared to what Hadley was able to accomplish.

  6. December 22, 2008 9:12 pm

    It might also be worthwhile for Holyoke, as a community, to look at how Greenfield handled the entrance of Home Depot…

  7. Jason permalink
    January 4, 2009 9:05 pm

    I have given this some thought and feel that the planned location is the most logical one. The K-Mart plaza is slowly decaying and will eventually need a complete makeover much like the old Fairfield Mall has been given. It has the potential to be a excellent retail spot, but will need to be completely redone.
    I do get very sad looking at the state of downtown Holyoke. I see such potential there. It could be just as good as Northhampton or Brattleboro VT. The problem is that it is getting much worse before it is getting better. I could not see Lowes fitting in anywhere downtown.
    I do have a slight issue with this comment.
    “And why is it ok to dump trash on the low income latino population with the waste transfer station, but when a company wants to move a national business into a Industrial Zoned area, close to a middle class primarily white neighborhood its not ok?”
    If you take a walk downtown, tell me the people who live there aren’t dumping trash on thier own feet and slowly tearing the downtown area apart, building by building. I know I won’t be popular for that statement, but a little pride in your neighborhood goes along way.

  8. John Brunelle permalink
    January 5, 2009 10:13 pm

    The Holyoke Gas and Electric has already committed to 500k towards downtown development and additional traffic improvements on top of what the developer will be required to spend for traffic mitigation for the project through site plan review. In addition the developer supports District Improvement Financing (DIF) to help resolve and pay for traffic in the area. WITHOUT THE PROJECT WE CAN NOT IMPROVE THE TRAFFIC! It is that simple. Without the sale of the land, the 500k for downtown is ZERO. Would the opponents rather see a sale price of 2.5 million and have the developers give the 500k to this “downtown fund”? Just because some councilors do not have faith in the site plan review process does not mean that site plan review won’t work. We have some very capable Planning Board members, including former Councilor Lubold who is no one’s rubber stamp. The developers know that they will have to provide traffic mitigation at thier own expense. I firmly believe that requiring this developer or any developer to pay for a Zone Change sends the wrong message and personally feel that it would only breed corruption. It sets a terrible precedent. What happens when a individual, small developer , non-profit, etc. wants a zone change in the future? Do we now require them to pay up first? and if not then how can we pick and chooses who has to pay and who does not have to pay. Zone changes should be decided on merit not if the developer is willing and able to “pay to play” for thier zone change.

  9. holyokenow permalink*
    January 6, 2009 5:47 am

    Is Holyoke Gas and Electric a private corporation? it says City of Holyoke Gas & Electric Department.

    So basically the rate payers and tax payers are funding the 500k towards downtown development through the sale.

    It’s not about paying to play, It’s about a city that needs the downtown area revitalized, to have economic growth in that area spurred. If a company does not want to locate in that area, and help draw $$ down there, then they should have to kick into a kitty to support businesses that want to move into that area.

    You asked “If a individual, small developer, non-profit, etc. wants a zone change, should they be required to pay first?”

    YES, only if they don’t locate in the downtown area.

    What people always seem to fail to realize is that business expenses are Tax Deductible

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