Bigger box plans get cool reception

Tue, 09/15/2009 - 4:05pm
By: John Munford

Capital City Development didn’t earn any praise Monday night for its latest development plan for a 14-acre site at the southwest corner of Ga. Highway 54 and Planterra Way.

CCD is asking to increase the largest store from 50,000 square feet to 63,830 square feet to accommodate a Kohl’s department store. The company is also asking to increase the shopping center’s size from 175,000 square feet to 186,000 square feet.

The proposal was scrutinized by the Peachtree City Planning Commission in a workshop session Monday.

CCD’s Doug McMurrain said the company would prepare an improved version of the latest plan. The drawing was criticized for including a right-in, right-out entrance on Ga. Highway 54 between a new traffic light that will serve the shopping center and the existing light for Planterra Way.

That access point was placed in an area along the highway that was to be landscaped.

Another resident complained that the latest plan created a problem with rear access by not having a complete driveway for service deliveries. The plan, if built, would have forced trucks to turn around and likely go in reverse, activating their loud warning signals while in reverse and potentially disturbing residents in Cardiff Park.

McMurrain said those problems would be addressed in the new plan and the the buffers to the rear abutting the Cardiff Park subdivision would remain intact.

He said the Kohl’s would be about the size of the largest Kroger grocery in town.

McMurrain said he is willing to give up the possibility of having two other large stores of up to 50,000 square feet each. Instead, the other stores will be 32,000 square feet or smaller, McMurrain said.

CCD had hoped to have a Publix grocery store in the development but that proposal fell apart late last year, McMurrain said.

About the Kohl’s location, Planning Commissioner Larry Sussberg asked what might happen should Kohl’s leave in the future. McMurrain said the store size would be ideal for a Kroger or could be split into two smaller stores for “junior anchors” such as a T.J. Maxx or Homegoods.

Cardiff Park resident Tim Lydell said he is hopeful about the Kohl’s project because that company doesn’t leave its buildings, unlike Wal-Mart.

“They do not arbitrarily put up buildings and then pull them,” Lydell said, adding that the shopping center will also contribute sales taxes to the city.

The development already has secured an earlier special use permit allowing it to eclipse the city’s retail size limits of 32,000 square feet for an individual store and 150,000 square feet for the entire development. But because CCD is asking for another size increase, the matter will have to go back to the City Council for a new approval at a later date. The city also sold public-owned rights of way and abandoned two city streets to the developer to allow the larger project.

The commission did not vote on the proposal Monday because it was reviewed in a workshop format only. The commission is expected to vote on its recommendation for the project at a later date.

The shopping center plan has been of some controversy. Early on, the plan drew fire from some residents after CCD asked the city to sell it the city streets, Line Creek Drive and Line Creek Court, that lead to the location. Had the streets remained, there wouldn’t have been room to build large stores on the tract due to the city’s road setback guidelines.

Months later, CCD secured a traffic light for its entry road, despite the intersection’s proximity to two existing lights on either side: for Planterra Way and also MacDuff Parkway.

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Submitted by Spyglass on Wed, 09/16/2009 - 2:25pm.

Just say NO.....

Submitted by ohmygosh on Wed, 09/16/2009 - 1:39pm.

a Kohls, where we already have two within striking distance. I thought we were supposed to be an "Above Average" town, what with our low crime rate, eclectic mix of homes, and the cart paths. We have been featured in magazines and newspapers across the globe as a fine place to call home, yet we seriously want a low to mid level store like Kohls? I have to break my pattern and agree with Haddix - there are way too many clothiers in the avenues alone. We also have all these other stores that sit vacant. Why not entertain some of the higher end stores? Trader Joe's would fit in beautifully with the eco-conscious and organic minded people. I'm sure there are others still that will bring us a higher quality of shopper.

Submitted by MYTMITE on Wed, 09/16/2009 - 4:46pm.

merchandise was so-so. More and more it is looking cheap and tacky. We do not need this in PTC. More upscale stores will stay away if we keep lowering our standards. Peachtree City is getting so far away from the village concept there will be no going back. Let's hope that the council will do the right thing and not give in to this bully. Let him scare everybody with a Hooters and another tire store or whatever. We gave in to him before and here he is with more demands. What we need is a place that sells backbones--since several on the council are in dire need of them.

Don Haddix's picture
Submitted by Don Haddix on Wed, 09/16/2009 - 1:56pm.

As has been pointed out many times Trader Joe's or Whole Foods won't come here. Wrong stats.

I would not mind one, for sure, but in the Baby Kroger, not CCD. But Trader Joe's stores run 11,000 to 15,000 sq'. So even the Baby Kroger would have to be sub divided. Whole Foods averages around 50,000 sq' but could do the site at 33,000 sq'.

Simple reality is there is nothing retail that could be built there that will not just create more empty retail space somewhere.

Don Haddix
Candidate for Mayor

Submitted by Bonkers on Wed, 09/16/2009 - 3:21pm.

I'll just bet that a very large liquor store with an adult gadget in the back would pull in a fortune here.
Also, and ice rink with condos would be welcomed.
Four or five more health clubs here would bring into town scores of healthy girl instructors and cheat thousands out of thousands for nothing gained or lost.
A water Polo club using water from the treatment plant would be likely to sell membership out quickly.
And, since a prison with strict security for world terrorists including those now in GITMO and in other friendly countries including Abu Ghraib (they changed the name--don't know it)with many, many CIA torturers living here would surely be enjoyed by many here. We would get to visit and view their treatment through rose colored glasses. Many here would certainly pay to see that. There would be vast field of goats and rice patties here used to feed them.

Be hard for many to say, "not in my back door," after all their comments!

And someone wanted a "Trader Joes?" What is that an exclusive shopping place? Is "Whole Foods," the opposite of unhealthy foods? Do it cost more?

Well, Kroger is (has) killing the PT Crossing and the shopping center east of it. That there oyster place is going to put on bra shows with real live models soon. I saw their ad.
I might go if I could stand the smoke.

The new paint job in Braelinn will help immensely I think. I foresee thousands from Brooks and places south coming there then.

I'll bet you if someone built a rasslin gym (on TV) on that hill cross from Walmart, that thousands would come to watch and be seen.
Maybe even a dog fighting building with storage for dogs when not fighting would draw huge betting crowds. There must be thousands of fighting dogs and human dogs in Georgia who would welcome that. They catch a few every month to make it look good.
Just another reason that people here don't like the government messing into their business. Don't want no road money neither.

suggarfoot's picture
Submitted by suggarfoot on Wed, 09/16/2009 - 3:05pm.

at the Avenue where the book store is now. It couldn't make it.

Don Haddix's picture
Submitted by Don Haddix on Wed, 09/16/2009 - 3:16pm.

Harry's on the Go. Their produce was not turning over fast enough to make it, so who when the corp. did a restructuring this store closed.

It was where Books-a-Million is now.

Don Haddix
Candidate for Mayor

Submitted by AtHomeGym on Wed, 09/16/2009 - 4:25pm.

Or was it "Harry's In A Hurry"--regardless, I disagree with your rationale as to why they closed. It wasn't just a restructuring, all of Harry's (Farmer's Market & In A Hurry) was purchased by Whole Foods. We shopped there a lot--really like the 10% Military Discount--and always found the store quite busy. It just didn't fit into the business philosophy of Whole Foods and besides sold some stuff that didn't fit their business profile.

NUK_1's picture
Submitted by NUK_1 on Wed, 09/16/2009 - 5:18pm.

They bought everything else and left the 4 or 5 stores with Harry's owner/founder Harry Blazer and told him good luck with that. Those stores were huge money losers and Blazer soon had to close all of them. Blazer was a consultant with Whole Foods for a while after the sale of the "good assets" to Whole Foods, so he did OK after he stopped the bleeding by shuttering the Harry's in a Hurry stores.Each Harry's ina Hurry was losing over a million a month when they were operating.

He had a good idea, but the execution just wasn't there.

Don Haddix's picture
Submitted by Don Haddix on Wed, 09/16/2009 - 4:58pm.

Hard to remember the names and changes.

Yes, the reorg was due to the buy out, no argument. But a big stated factor was also they were losing to much produce due to slow turnover. We talked to a guy that was upper management there and that location was already under performance scrutiny.

It might have succeeded if it had been smaller, thus allowing product turn over. But produce and related sales is not my area of expertise on market requirement for turning a profit. The margins are pretty slim on such products.

It is also very hard to compete with the Farmer's Market in Forest Park.

If anyone has any creative suggestions please let DAPC or me know.

Don Haddix
Candidate for Mayor

Submitted by justchecking on Wed, 09/16/2009 - 6:33pm.

While this is merely beating a dead horse, I feel it necessary to weigh in on the Harry's In A Hurry (NOT Harry's On The Go) discussion. As an insider I can tell you exactly what happened, and it had absolutely nothing to do with produce not turning. Harry's produce buyers were way too knowledgeable to ship more produce than the daily sales warranted. In fact, sales for all of the commodities at the store were very brisk. It was a business decision, following the sale of Harry's Farmer's Market to Whole Foods, to close all five of the Harry's In a Hurry stores , including the one here in Peachtree City. That is why the Harry's a Hurry here closed. Once again Don, you've neglected to get your facts straight before opening your mouth.

Submitted by MYTMITE on Wed, 09/16/2009 - 6:47pm.

think. I do believe the situation was that there were two brothers involved in the stores. One broke away from the other and started Harry' In a Hurry. He evidently did not have the business acumen of his former partner and while his stores had customers, they proved not to be profitable and he went out of business. Seems your facts are not all that accurate after all.

Submitted by Not everything ... on Mon, 09/21/2009 - 1:17pm.

Your facts are mostly wrong as well.

The 2 Blazer brothers co-owned the Dekalb Farmer's Market and had a falling out.

Harry Blazer then started Harry's Farmer's Market (the large format store), got 2 opened, went public way too soon and had to grow quickly as a result. But not before overpaying millions of $$ for a distribution facility in Nashville that he never used.

So he started the "In a Hurry" stores to try to placate Wall Street and grow his company, and opened a handful. PTC was the last to open and the first to close. After the 'net bubble burst, business turned and the big stores were sold to Whole Foods, who didn't want the small stores. PTC was closed, and afterwards the company filed and ultimately liquidated.

PTC closure had nothing to do with produce not moving quick enough(my conversations were with a far better source than the store level manager) and everything to do with Cousins being a pro-active owner who got the tenant out before losing control of the space because the BK filing was coming.

Submitted by justchecking on Wed, 09/16/2009 - 7:01pm.

The only thing you've got right is Harry has a brother. Nuff said.

Don Haddix's picture
Submitted by Don Haddix on Wed, 09/16/2009 - 7:12pm.

I will go with what the manager told me face to face in the store.

Don Haddix
Candidate for Mayor

Submitted by Bonkers on Wed, 09/16/2009 - 8:02pm.

Slow turnover means sales are slow. Slow sales means no profit.

In cases of a store doing badly, most "store managers" will tell you most anything to protect their interests. Just as politicians do all of the time.

Rotting food due to no sales! WOW. He was supposed to throw that stuff out when it had a hint of not being fresh and maybe he did, but sales was the problem.

I shopped there and they had little choices and they were very high.
Had some unusual stuff but who wants it? Maybe 3%.

Submitted by justchecking on Wed, 09/16/2009 - 8:19pm.

As usual, people with no idea of what they're talking about like to chime in. There were erroneous statements made about why the Harry's In a Hurry here closed. I merely attempted to clarify the situation by stating the facts. You can take it or leave it - choosing to believe those who profess to be experts in all things. I am an expert in few things, but I do know what I am talking about here. I have stated the facts - something very often lacking in any discussion these days. You can choose to believe it or not, but trust me, Harry's didn't close because of the produce. And while this 'dead horse' may get beat a while longer, I'm done getting my licks in.

Submitted by AtHomeGym on Thu, 09/17/2009 - 9:13am.

Part of my earlier post was wrong--Whole Foods only bought Harry's Farmers Market, Inc ($35M); The Harry's In A Hurry stores were then run as part of a company called "Hurry, Inc", of which Harry Blazer was President & CEO; Hurry, Inc lost big bucks and had to close stores, end of story.

Submitted by justchecking on Wed, 09/16/2009 - 7:18pm.

No Harry's manager would ever tell you the produce wasn't turning. That would never have been a problem because deliveries were based on sales - less sales/less deliveries. But as I said before, this is a dead horse. I've stated the facts. Take it or leave it.

Submitted by Davids mom on Wed, 09/16/2009 - 2:40pm.

I hope that someone looks at the current stats of residents of South Fayetteville. There are many who drive to the Atlanta area to buy from Trader Joe's. It would be great to have a Trader Joe's right here in Fayette County! A small Trader Joe's in some of the empty space in the Pavilion would be welcomed - and might attract some other environmentally and health conscious vendors.

Submitted by Spyglass on Wed, 09/16/2009 - 3:47pm.

Think population density...income levels in the area are fine, just not enough of them. For that, I'm thankful...less traffic.

Don Haddix's picture
Submitted by Don Haddix on Wed, 09/16/2009 - 3:01pm.

The no was for all of Fayette County. PTC would get it first since we are 35% of the County population with higher average income levels. As well the tons of Coweta traffic.

It would be great to have them. But it was checked into last year and the answer was no. Someone else checked this year and the answers are still no.

Even tried to do Fresh Fare, the Kroger line. No as well.

It is frustrating.

Don Haddix
Candidate for Mayor

Submitted by Doug on Wed, 09/16/2009 - 10:40am.

How can this thing even be allowed for a vote? Get real people.

Submitted by skyspy on Wed, 09/16/2009 - 8:29am.

They gave him an inch and now he wants 10 miles. How many more empty stores do we need in this city? What is our ideal number of empty store fronts?

Don Haddix's picture
Submitted by Don Haddix on Wed, 09/16/2009 - 8:59am.

Around 3% is acceptable. We are over 30% now.

Give him this extra size and if, I stress if, Kohl's comes in expect more empties quickly, some in the Avenues. We already have too many soft goods stores now.

There is a Kohl's in Fayetteville and one in Newnan. Kohl's own numbers say they need 100,000 population per store region to be successful.

Do the math, Fayette is barely meets the demand for 1 store. We have 2 stores already about 20 miles apart. Add a third in the middle.

This needs denied. The clock is ticking on McMurrain. He has said he has to have a Big Box to make this work. Keep him capped at 50,000 sq' and he may never get to build before his time limit runs out because most want even larger than that. Add in the economy and numbers of Big Box chains folding stores, which isn't going to end any time soon.

Get this into the new Council with the right people elected and he won't get any extras again and the Special Use Permit will be eliminated from the ordinance. There are 3 running who have stated they think Big Boxes help PTC.

Don Haddix
Candidate for Mayor

Submitted by Terriers88 on Wed, 09/16/2009 - 6:42pm.

Again, you have earned my vote for your common sense approach to what will and won't work for Peachtree City. Curious note on the 30% vacancy rate. After doing a little poking around I have noticed that at least some of the vacancy issue appears to be self inflicted by the building's owners. The leases are astronomical. the best example I know is Braelinn Village. Many business there have come and gone simply because they couldn't afford the rent. Arnie's used to be where Papa John's is now. He moved years ago because the rent was too high. Same goes for Valentino's which I really do miss. It almost seems as though these owners are trying to keep these buildings vacant so they can have a tax write off. Good for them, very bad for the City. The worst part about that is there really is nothing that can be done to force the owners to lower their rent. I just hope the new owners of Braelinn Village Shopping Center can hold the rent down so business can get in there and generate sales. The other area that bothers me is the mass rate of vacancy along 54. With that massive shopping complex at Fischer Road starting up again, we may very well face more vacancy like you described.

Submitted by Bonkers on Wed, 09/16/2009 - 8:27pm.

Well, in some ways you have a point about high rent. But the difference between the rent in the 3-4 major strip centers in PTC is insufficient to prevent someone from making a profit.

With the right business, well run, a profit could be made at any of them.

I could be wrong but not too many years ago the differences were somewhere between $18 a foot per year and $25 a foot.

For a 3000-5000 foot store that difference is about 20 to 35 thousand dollars a year difference. I can assume the numbers are higher now but same difference in comparison.

If those amounts different are the profit, then it isn't a livable wage anyway.

Most people who start a small business can't calculate what I just did, or don't even know how. Much less the scores of other things to calculate before starting.

Chefs or cooks are the worst business people, after doctors who have had to go to work for professionals to tell them how to survive.

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