Politics from the Palouse to Puget Sound

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

"Pullman business owners not worried about Hawkins; Several say it adds to tax base, they just wish it was closer to Pullman"

That title pretty much sums up my feelings on the Hawkins development.

Some thoughts on the article:

I've blogged previously about what Tom Handy calls the "amount of retail" in Moscow. The Hotelling model and Huff's Law of Retail Gravity explain why Hawkins chose the location it did.

One thing that is never mentioned about potential benefits of the Hawkins development to Pullman is the property taxes that will go to Pullman School District #267. At a 40% buildout, Hawkins will provide an extra $247,500 a year to the district. At 100% buildout, that would be nearly $625,000 annually. Not exactly chump change to a school system looking to build a new high school.

Chris Lupke said pretty much the same thing about the Hawkins' location in his last Town Crier rant as did Fritz Hughes and Handy. The big difference of course is that Fritz and Tom both state the need for Wal-Mart in Pullman as a retail draw. Lu Laoshi, while supposedly not against all big retail, has yet to identify anything he approves of other than Target and Costco, which are both highly unlikely to ever locate here. That provides a convenient veneer to conceal his true anti-capitalist, left-wing sentiments.

From today's Moscow-Pullman Daily News:
Tom Handy is used watching money pass through Pullman only to be spent at stores in Moscow.

"I think it's a known fact," the Pullman business owner said. "It's because of the amount of retail that's there - that's the thing."

Handy, owner of the Old Post Office Wine Cellar and Gallery and president of the Pullman Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors, said he has some concerns that the retail development under way on the Washington-Idaho border may be one more project that draws customers out of Pullman. He's not opposed to the development, just its location.

"I just wish it was six miles this way (west)," he said. "I think the majority of Pullman businesspeople ... would prefer to have people stopping here than going almost to Moscow."

Whitman County commissioners approved a preliminary development agreement with Boise-based Hawkins Companies in February. According to the agreement, the county will finance the public infrastructure construction at the site through the sale of $9.1 million in bonds with the idea of recovering those costs through state funding.

Lowe's Home Improvement will be one of three anchor stores at the site and is the only confirmed tenant. Site plans indicate there will be nearly 20 additional spaces for commercial businesses of all sizes.

Gordon Wallen, owner of Heritage Wheel and Tire, said he won't likely have any competition when the Hawkins development begins to lease out spaces. His business is consistent, and he isn't afraid his customers will go elsewhere.

"It doesn't seem likely," he said. "It's far enough away."

Pullman Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Fritz Hughes said Hawkins likely will create positives and negatives for the Pullman business community.

Hughes said commercial tenants there may draw consumers out of Washington, and those consumers may decide to conduct any additional shopping in Moscow. If a Lowe's is constructed, it could mean competition for businesses such as Pullman Business Supply. He added that potential Pullman businesses may be lured to set up shop at Hawkins, since vacant retail space will be available near popular anchor stores.

"But on the other side, a store like Lowe's would be a draw, so there could be some people that come from Colfax to go to Lowe's, and maybe they'll stop in Pullman for a hamburger or something," he said.

Handy said that although the Hawkins development may draw customers out of Pullman, at least tax dollars generated will remain in Washington and Whitman County. Sales tax from purchased goods and property taxes on the development will be beneficial, and "the more we can add to that the better it is for everyone in the area," he said.

"It's good to see stuff happening on this side of the state line. Something is better than nothing."

Handy said Pullman businesses are doing all they can to keep people coming. They provide "something that is a bit unique" to customers and increased customer service. He said if Wal-Mart locates in Pullman, it likely will improve local business by increasing the consumer traffic from Idaho in to Washington.

Hughes agreed.

"There'll be a strong retail base and that's what we need to keep our community strong," he said. "And there's other retail that follows big boxes."

Wal-Mart officials are waiting for a court decision before breaking ground in Pullman. A site plan for a store has been approved by the city, but that decision is being challenged in the Washington State Division III Court of Appeals in Spokane by the group Pullman Alliance for Responsible Development.

Handy said until the Wal-Mart case is resolved, it's not likely the Hawkins development will do any more damage to Pullman businesses than is already occurring with the Moscow retail community.

"Any additional competition would not be totally detrimental," he said. "As it is right now, Pullman's got competition for any business anyway."
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1 comment:

April E. Coggins said...

Competition is good for everyone. The closer the better. Competition is good for the customer, the retailer, the wholesaler and the manufacturer. There is no down side to competition except to merchandisers who are too lazy or ignorant to compete. Hmmmmm. Is this just another example of leftists trying to manipulate markets to reward the inefficient?

How would it be if rice wasn't allowed to be sold here because it might compete with locally produced wheat?