The remodeling and construction market may be soft, but national retailer Lowe’s is going forward with plans to relocate its north Spokane store to a bigger spot three blocks away.
City of Spokane planners this week approved a preliminary site plan giving Lowe’s five years to complete a 17-acre project that includes tearing down the Kmart store at 6606 N. Division.
The Lowe’s Home Improvement Warehouse at 6902 N. Division will close, replaced by a much larger store at the Kmart location. The new Lowe’s will be 170,750 square feet. The North Division Kmart store fills about 97,000 square feet.
Dave Black, of property broker NAI Black, said Lowe’s has two reasons to make the move. One, it gives the hardware retailer more room for parking. Initial plans by the developer, Lowe’s HIW Inc., of Carlsbad, Calif., provide for 650 parking spots.
“But a more important reason is that it lets them build one of their prototype stores, which have a consumer-friendly floor plan,” he said. Black said no work will begin on the project until the North Division Kmart lease expires in 2011. Lowe’s also has a lease to honor on its nearby store with property owner Harlan Douglass. That lease will end in 2011 or 2012.
Sears Holding Co., the owner of Kmart, intends to operate its North Division store for the duration of the lease, spokesperson Kim Freely said.
The plan to move Lowe’s to a larger site goes back more than two years, according to city planning documents.
Along with demolishing Kmart, the plan would eliminate the Life Center North Church, which occupies the former Lyons Avenue Cinemas building. A number of retail stores and the Szechuan Restaurant and Bar also will be demolished under the plan.
Gerard Littlejohn, a spokesman for Lowe’s Cos. Inc., based in Mooresville, N.C., declined to offer a cost estimate for the project. He said the company won’t discuss a new store until it completes real estate purchase agreements.
The owner of the proposed site, Spokane resident Jim Iver, could not be reached for comment.
The next step for the developer will be gaining permits to move forward with demolition and several property improvements.
The economy may not be robust yet, noted Black, but large companies like Lowe’s don’t wait for a rebound before looking for expansion.
“What they’re doing in this case is normal planning for future growth,” he said.