Thursday, August 10, 2006

Lowe's Might Open Vallejo Store

Lowe's Might Open Vallejo Store
By RACHEL RASKIN-ZRIHEN, Times-Herald staff writer
Vallejo Times Herald

Closing Vallejo's Yardbirds store earlier this year made The Home Depot just about the only home improvement game in town. But that may not be true for long.
Discussions are under way with home improvement retail giant Lowe's for a store in north Vallejo, city officials said.

Lowe's is considering building a store next to the Mandarich development slated for the city's north area, said Vallejo's development services director, Brian Dolan.

"Lowe's had expressed interest in Vallejo a couple of years ago, and then we heard nothing," Dolan said. "Then we met with them a week ago and they told us they were pursuing the Ted Lee property."

Vallejo public information officer Mark Mazzaferro said, "Lowe's has told the city they're coming to Vallejo, to locate on Columbus Parkway near the new Auto Mall."

The Home Depot bought out Petaluma-based Yardbirds late last year and closed the Vallejo store among others.

Lowe's representatives plan to submit a building application, soon, Dolan and Mazzaferro said.

A location in the city's northeast quadrant would put a Lowe's only a short distance from Vallejo's Admiral Callaghan Lane Home Depot store. This is fairly typical for Lowe's, a company spokeswoman said.

"From what we've experienced across the county, more than 70 percent of our stores are operating within 10 miles of a competitor, so this would not be uncommon," said Lowe's spokeswoman Karen Cobb. She added that while it is against company policy to talk about specific stores until an actual real estate deal has closed, Lowe's stores are multiplying nationwide.

"We've been in business 60 years and we're in the midst of the largest expansion in the company's history," Cobb said. "We're opening an average of one store every three days."

With this expansion, Lowe's is "evaluating many potential sites" nationwide, she said.

Lowe's opened 140 new stores in 2004, 150 last year, and expects to open 155 this year, Cobb said. Next year, the company anticipates opening 150 to 160 new stores, in addition to its first location in Canada, Cobb said. There are 1,275 Lowe's stores nationwide now, 74 of which are in California, she said.

Solano County's only Lowe's is in Vacaville. There are three in Alameda County and one in Sonoma County, Cobb said. There are no Lowe's stores in Napa or Contra Costa counties, she said.

Lowe's considers community growth, population and home ownership when deciding whether and where to locate stores, Cobb said.

A couple of years ago, Lowe's expressed some interest in American Canyon's Napa Junction project, but opted out, said American Canyon Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Dale Osmond. The center is getting a Wal-Mart instead, he said.

"Lowe's expressed interest at one time, but have backed off," Osmond said. "And that project is the only location in the city that would be available to them. It's not like we sought out Wal-Mart. They were the only ones who wanted the space."

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