Pasadena Star News, Oct 27, 2017: http://www.pasadenastarnews.com/2017/10/27/blame-game-begins-after-lowes-says-its-pulling-out-of-alhambra-development-on-south-fremont/
Lowe’s Home Improvement will not be coming to Alhambra, effectively killing a proposed development on South Fremont Avenue, the developer said Friday.
After the City Council in February effectively approved the Charles Company’s project — consisting of a 134,000-square-foot Lowe’s, two six-story office buildings and a six-level parking garage — Grassroots Alhambra, a local environmental group, sued to block the project claiming the traffic study conducted for it was inadequate.
George Ray, development/project manager for the Charles Company, said Lowe’s had decided several months ago to withdraw from the project. The developer negotiated with Grassroots Alhambra to reach a settlement that would convince Lowe’s to come back, but the time had come to kill the project and move on, Ray said.
“Lowe’s is risk averse,” Ray said. “They assumed the worst and that this was going to drag out for an undetermined amount of time, so in turn they decided to allocate their resources to other projects.”
Knowing that Lowe’s was prepared to pull out of the project, Ray said the Charles Company offered to put the office building phase of the development on hold while the Lowe’s would be built. He said the company would conduct a traffic study on the Lowe’s in any manner of the activists’ choosing and then determine how best to use the remaining land if the office buildings would create too much traffic on the already-congested Fremont Avenue.
“Our settlement proposals were never good enough,” Ray said. “I think they wanted to use us to have the city change its process. This was all a scheme due to some other internal city politics I’m not familiar with.”
In a statement, the Grassroots Alhambra board confirmed that it never opposed the components in the development, including the Lowe’s store, but sought for the developer to comply with applicable laws like the California Environmental Quality Act.
“It is the same standard by which we will judge any future development proposals on this land by the Charles Company,” the statement reads.
The real loser in all of this is Alhambra and its residents, said Sharon Gibbs, executive director of the Alhambra Chamber of Commerce.
Gibbs said the chamber has regularly received several calls a week since the Lowe’s store was announced from people asking when hiring events or job postings would become available for the store.
In addition, the Charles Company had estimated the sales tax returns to the city from Lowe’s was estimated to be $400,000 to $600,000 per year.
City Councilman David Mejia said he was disappointed at the loss in potential jobs and sales tax revenue.
“People sometimes complain about potholes not being filled, that we don’t have enough cops on the street, our swimming hours are too short,” Mejia said. “That sales tax revenue goes to the general fund to pay for all those things. It’s a great opportunity we lost.”
- written by Christopher Yee