New version of Toledo Talk

    August 9, 2005

Costco at Westgate - "Costco Wholesale Corp., the nation's fifth-largest retailer, expects to have a store within two years in a redeveloped Westgate Village Shopping Center in Toledo. The move would be a radical departure for the 48-year-old strip center at Central Avenue and Secor Road, and would probably entail tearing down part of the existing center."
posted by jr to business at 10:28 A.M. EST     (82 Comments)

Comments ...

What a strange story. My hunch is that it has its origins on the 22nd floor of One Government Center.

Costco: "Yes, we are looking to go there."
Westgate owners (according to the Blade): "the owners continue to weigh options for reviving the center."
Tenants: "They aren't telling us anything."

So no one is saying anything definite, but the impression is created that something is happening at the tired old Westgate shopping center, one of the many non-happening nodes of inactivity in JaFo's term as mayor.

And who is the Blade's undeclared favorite son for mayor?

posted by historymike at 11:25 A.M. EST on Tue Aug 09, 2005     #

Nonna D. Above (D), A relative unknown in Toledo.
posted by Hooda_Thunkit at 12:40 P.M. EST on Tue Aug 09, 2005     #

The Costco Challenge:

"These days, the story goes, consumers demand low prices, meaning goods must be produced and sold cheaply — and retail wages must be kept as low as possible. Companies like Wal-Mart insist they’re feeling the squeeze and must pay workers poverty wages — even while netting $10.5 billion in annual profits and awarding millions to top executives."

"But there’s another company that is breaking the Wal-Mart mold: Costco Wholesale Corp., now the fifth-largest retailer in the U.S. While Wal-Mart pays an average of $9.68 an hour, the average hourly wage of employees of the Issaquah, Wash.-based warehouse club operator is $16. After three years a typical full-time Costco worker makes about $42,000, and the company foots 92% of its workers’ health insurance tab."

"How does Costco pull it off? How can a discount retail chain pay middle-class wages and still bring in over $880 million in net revenues? And, a cynic may ask, with Wal-Mart wages becoming the norm, why does it bother? A number of factors explain Costco’s success at building a retail chain both profitable and fair to its workers. But the basic formula is one the labor movement has been advocating for decades: a loyal, well-compensated workforce means a more efficient and productive one."

posted by jr at 03:47 P.M. EST on Tue Aug 09, 2005     #

I understand that Costco employees are know, the ones who just left the AFL-CIO over political expenditure issues????
posted by intrepid at 07:09 P.M. EST on Wed Aug 10, 2005     #

So I'm trying to understand Costco. Average hourly pay is $16 per hour. "After three years a typical full-time Costco worker makes about $42,000, and the company foots 92% of its workers’ health insurance tab."

"Though only about 18% of Costco’s total workforce is unionized, union representation creates a ripple effect and helps determine labor standards in all stores. The Teamsters represent about 15,000 workers at 56 Costco stores in California, New York, New Jersey, Maryland and Virginia."

"Besides the efficiency of its workforce, another reason Costco can afford to pay more is that it cuts the fat from executive paychecks. The overall corporate philosophy is that workers deserve a fair share of the profits they help generate — not just a pat on the back or a new job title like “associate.” "

"For example, while CEOs at other major corporations average 531 times the pay of their lowest-paid employees, Sinegal takes only 10 times the pay of his typical employee. His annual salary is $350,000, compared to about $5.3 million awarded to Wal-Mart’s Lee Scott."

"After California Costco workers ratified their Teamster contract last March, CEO Jim Sinegal said Costco workers are “entitled to buy homes and live in reasonably nice neighborhoods and send their children to school.” "

Now assuming they come to Westgate, they might have to tear down part of Westgate. But that doesn't mean Costco will look like a typical box store. Maybe they will build a nice facade that "blends" in with the rest of Westgate. All of Westgate's storefronts could use a little updating. Think Levis Commons. The store doesn't have to stand out in an eyesore way. And who knows, maybe Costco can attract more business to Westgate.

But what do Toledo's mayoral candidates think about Costco:

"Three candidates vying in the Sept. 13 primary election criticized the proposal. "That would be a shame for that area," Councilman Rob Ludeman said at the end of a news conference. The Republican added later: "Westgate has a flavor all its own." "

Yeah, whatever. Yo, Rob, what flavor is Thackeray's Books and Boogie Records? Those were definitely "flavorful" stores, and sadly, they're gone. Does Costco sell music and books? If they do, that might have hurt Thackeray's and Boogie, but who knows, the extra traffic there could have spilled over into those stores and saved them.

"Democrat Keith Wilkowski, a former Lucas County commissioner, said the center "can do better" than a Costco."

Check out this shit from Wilkowski:

"[Wilkowski] said he'd like to implement the five-year-old "Walk Westgate" plan, which sought to make the area more appealing to pedestrians. "A tremendous amount of planning has gone into developing it, not in a big-box kind of way," Mr. Wilkowski said."

Westgate was built in the 1950's. These are the dunderhead choices for Toledo, people. Some frigging how a walking program will revitalize Westgate. I can't wait for the Codependent Collegian to run with this story. I mean, "walk" with the story.

"Mr. Finkbeiner opposes large-box retail in general and was leery of Costco because of one of its store's effects on a neighborhood in Dayton. "If this development is similar ... we'd have serious concerns about it," Mr. Reinbolt said."

Mayor Ford's take:

"The campaign manager for Mayor Jack Ford said the mayor told Westgate's owner earlier this year that he was "concerned with the integrity of the neighborhood" around the shopping center in case of redevelopment. ''He continues to hold those concerns at a very high priority," said Megan Vahey."

Ford recently made a big deal out of nothing over the possible plans to maybe do something with Southwyck. But he's concerned with Costco.

Reaction by citizens over Costco possibly coming to Westgate:

"It won't be the prettiest building," said the Westgate merchant, who operates Diamond Designs by Hoffman. "But Westgate isn't working the way it is."

"We wouldn't like to see a big box store go in there," said Harry Ward, a member of the steering committee of the Westgate Neighbors organization. "We don't think that kind of business fits the area. We would like to see small independent businesses as have been in there in the past."

"It will be excellent for Westgate," said Dusty Hill, manager of Allied Record Exchange in the center. "It will be nice to have a big draw after the closing of Thackeray's [bookstore]."

"We don't need more big boxes," said Marie Kovach of Toledo. "I'd like to see it stay with small individual businesses."

posted by jr at 08:46 P.M. EST on Wed Aug 10, 2005     #

Very good article on Wikipedia about Costco; I have to admit a certain amount of ignorance about the corporate structure and business model until I read up on the company:

posted by historymike at 09:14 P.M. EST on Wed Aug 10, 2005     #

From that Wikipedia site:

"A recent estimate (New York Times, July 17, 2005) puts Costco's average pay at $17 per hour, or 42% higher than Walmart-owned "Sam's Club". Wall Street analyst Bill Dreher of Deutsche Bank criticized Mr. Sinegal in 2004, saying "it's better to be an employee or a customer than a shareholder." Sinegal counters that good wages and benefits more than pay for themselves by holding down employee turnover, reducing employee theft and by appealing to a certain percentage of affluent customers who appreciate that the low prices do not come at the workers' expense."

Affluent customers live in that area near Westgate. Maybe that's why Costco wants in there. Might answer the question a resident had in the Blade article listed above:

" "This has always been nice, upscale," said retiree Gary Ryan, a neighborhood resident who wondered why Costco didn't select other vacant retail sites nearby."

People here the words "big box store" and they immediately make the sign of the cross with their index fingers and drape a garlic necklace around their neck. Maybe people should postpone their knee-jerk reactions until they have more info.

Another comment from the Blade article about citizens' reactions.

"Pat Cannon, manager of Gen's Hallmark, said she would have preferred a redevelopment scheme patterned after the Town Center at Levis Commons in Perrysburg."

Now hold on there. Books "bloody big" A Million is at Levis Commons, and I would consider that a big box store.

posted by jr at 09:38 P.M. EST on Wed Aug 10, 2005     #

A Jan 19, 2005 Cleveland Scene article that rails against Wal-Mart invading Cleveland but says of Costco:

"It would be foolish to fight the entry of big-box retailers. They're a fact of modern economics. Besides, not all cribbed their labor practices from Louisiana chain gangs of the 1920s. A Costco employee with normal raises can reach the $40,000 mark after 3-1/2 years. Target's parent company, Dayton Hudson, was a founding member of the Five Percent Club, which urges corporations to give 5 percent of their pretax income to charity. These are the kinds of companies Cleveland could do business with."

Current Costco locations in:

Deerfield Township
Mayfield Heights

Auburn Hills
Bloomfield Township
Commerce Township
Grand Rapids East
Green Oak Township
Livonia I
Livonia II
Madison Heights
Shelby Township

Costco opened in Avon, Ohio in Dec of 2002. Data about Avon from
Median household income: $66,747 (year 2000)
Median house value: $178,700 (year 2000)

" "Costco is a little higher end retailer than BJ's or Sam's. It caters to a more affluent trade community," First Interstate President Mitchell Schneider said. "We believe this is a great complement to the tenant mix at the Commons. It is truly a one-stop shopping location serving all the needs of the community." First Interstate is the developer of Avon Commons."

Avon Commons looks like Spring Meadows or that relatively new shopping area on route 20 a little east of Perrysburg.

The article says Avon Commons has 600,000 sq ft of retail space. According to the Westgate website, "Westgate Village Shopping Center is an open air center with 765,000 sq. ft. of rental space, including department stores."

Maybe the pics are deceiving because Avon Commons looks larger than Westgate. If the square footage of the two shopping areas is listed correctly, it's interesting that people are concerned about a Costco going into Westgate, which is larger than Avon Commons. And obviously Avon, Ohio is an upscale area. The Avon Commons is a new shopping area, while Westgate is a quaint relic from the 1950's.

posted by jr at 01:17 A.M. EST on Thu Aug 11, 2005     #

Aug 12 Blade article titled 'Finkbeiner rejects idea of Costco at Westgate.'

"Toledo mayoral candidate Carty Finkbeiner wants Whole Foods, treadmills, and university buildings, not Costco, at the Westgate Village Shopping Center. Mr. Finkbeiner, at a news conference yesterday at the shopping center called to punctuate his opposition to a proposed “big-box” style Costco store there, he said he’d be open to having one nearby."

Treadmills? A different version of Wilkowski's walking plan, I guess.

Anyway, back to what Jim Jackson said in a TFP interview:

"Jim Jackson said Toledo is a "Class C" city that needs to adjust its attitude toward development projects. Jackson said some of his developer friends have shied away from starting projects in Toledo because of the negative attitudes of city politicians."

Nothing changes. The Fab Four Flubs all oppose or express serious concern about a Costco coming to Westgate, which was only announced this week. How can anyone have such attitudes so early? Does the public have all the info about Costco coming to Westgate? Is it official that some existing Westgate businesses will be forced to leave to make room for Costco? Is it official that the Costco building will be a hideous eyesore?

Does the detailed proposed plan for a Westgate Costco exist today? It could be that in the future after more info is available, a Westgate Costco would not be a good move. But the opposite is also possible, that it is a good move for Westgate.

What happened to being open-minded? It doesn't mean you're saying yes or no to anything right now. It means more info is needed, and you have a wait-and-see attitude.

Making uninformed, reactionary statements like those made by the Fab Four Flubs and by some citizens, gives the appearance of being a close-minded nitwit and reaffirms what Jackson said.

posted by jr at 11:01 A.M. EST on Fri Aug 12, 2005     #

This phenomenon is what I like to call the "Dumb-old, Dumb-old Toledo Attitude".

The people in Toledo have a natural, knee jerk negative reaction to anything that's proposed.

They don't like things the way they are, but they don't like change either. Any new idea is immmediatly criticized in a passive aggressive manner, with an annoying nasal Midwestern accent.

There's no enthusiasm to speak of. But then again, maybe that's what you'd expect in a city so used to dissapointment.

posted by paddington at 11:11 A.M. EST on Fri Aug 12, 2005     #

Considering the posted information about Costco, I'd seriously consider lapsing my Sam's Club membership in favor of a Costco one. It would feel great to know my money was actually reaching the workers, instead of only heaping more money upon the wealthy and corporate.

Costco's bigboxiness also really doesn't matter. Remember the brouhaha over Home Depot at the larger Westgate location? That affair proved that neighborhoods have near ZERO ability to influence the inception of bigboxiness (other, contrary examples across America nonwithstanding). HD effectively blew off all the public saber-rattling, wooed the pertinent Toledo politicians, and then the deal was on, no matter what. Zoning in Toledo is now almost exclusively the privilege of the elite to determine (even MORE so, since the SCOTUS basically betrayed the American people recently over eminent domain).

posted by GuestZero at 09:53 P.M. EST on Sun Aug 14, 2005     #

Welcome back, Guest Zero.

How are things at

posted by historymike at 10:19 P.M. EST on Sun Aug 14, 2005     #

Aug 13 Blade op-ed:

"Many people regard Costco as a quality retailer that treats its communities and its employees well. The Westgate of 1957 is long gone in 2005. [Most Toledoans] regard Westgate nowadays as just one more strip mall in a part of town choked with traffic congestion. Erecting a so-called "big box" store, and tearing down part of the existing shopping center to do it, will further contribute to the "trash-scape" that so many commercial areas of Toledo have become."

"Whatever happened to the City's talks of a master plan for the Westgate area? What about those good intentions to make Westgate an urban magnet again, utilizing a neighborhood-inspired "Walk Westgate" plan? Perhaps a case could be made that the Westgate area is no longer a walkable neighborhood anyway, and that Costco's arrival will mark nothing more than an acceleration of a decline that's been under way for a long time. But is the community really ready to throw Westgate under the bus?"

Carty, Ford, and Ludeman criticize Westgate for bringing in Costco. These guys certainly have the right to express their beliefs, and we have the right to disrespect what they say. Carty, mayor of Toledo from 1994-2001. Ford, mayor of Toledo from 2002-present. Ludeman, how many years on Council? In all of their years of service in Toledo government, what have these three done to improve Westgate? They finally wake up after it's too late. And they want your vote.

posted by jr at 09:11 A.M. EST on Mon Aug 15, 2005     #

Aug 14 Blade article titled 'Costco as a catalyst' and subtitled 'Experts say Westgate, area would rebound.'

"Costco's broad shopper allure could rejuvenate retail throughout the Westgate area of Toledo. Such a consumer draw is certain to spur investment in the nearby stores, which in turn could boost retail rents and increase the value of commercial property there."

"Abbell Credit Corp. of Chicago, the owners of Westgate, have not revealed plans for redevelopment of the center. Abbell chief executive Elizabeth Holland stressed last week that talks with Costco are not finalized."

"If it does become reality, all the buildings on the 21-acre Westgate site likely will be demolished and a new center built, with Costco facing east and sitting where the western wing of the L-shaped center now sits. A new row of stores sitting where the existing southern wing is would be much less deep than the 150-foot length now, and a new row of stores could be built along the eastern boundary of the site, backing up to Secor, creating a new U-shaped look, said people familiar with the possible plans. The two new rows of stores would be separated from each other and from Costco."

"But Mr. Beyard said the smaller center likely would become a discounter enclave, with Costco and perhaps four mini-anchors, or a mix of lifestyle and entertainment retailers geared to upscale incomes in the nearby neighborhoods. Two eateries that fit that niche are California Pizza Kitchen and P.F. Chang's China Bistro, Mr. Beyard said. "Starbucks, of course, would probably want to be there as well," he added. A housewares or sporting goods store would fit in well, and some specialty local retail also would be a likely bet, he said. "A gourmet grocery store or one of the upper end food stores is likely, too," he said."

Starbucks? In that case, forget it. No Costco.

Why do Toledoans praise Starbucks and vilify Wal-Mart? Mayor Ford participated in a public protest of Wal-Mart, but he attended the grand opening of Starbucks on Talmadge. That makes no sense. Why isn't Starbucks lumped into the same category as Wal-Mart: a soulless, greedy corporation?

The Toledo City Paper wrote a story about the opening of Starbucks on Talmadge, and the writer said Toledo was finally a real city now because it had its own stand-alone Starbucks. Maybe the writer was trying to be funny, but why not say the same thing about Wal-Mart?

A Starbucks at Westgate? What about Barry's Bagels? In these new shopping centers like Levis Commons in Perrysburg, the one on Rt 20 in Rossford/P-burg, the Fallen Timbers center planned for Maumee, etc, are local, independet stores prohibited from leasing space in these places? Are only chains allowed? Is the grand plan for Westgate to boot all the locals out and replace them with chains?

I thought places like Port Royal, Out of Africa, The Vineyard, Culture Clash, Stone Computer, and others would simply move across the parking lot to new digs in Westgate. And places like Barry's Bagels, Bassett's Health Foods, and the rest would remain. But from this article, that doesn't seem to be the case.

What's alarming about this article is not one existing business in Westgate was mentioned. Unless I overlooked it.

More from the article:

"In August, 2004, Abbell signed eight new tenants to short-term leases, filling 40 of its 45 spaces by taking chances on local retailers who weren't particularly well-known. This year, more tenants left, including Thackeray's Books, which closed its business. Abbell opted to redevelop the center and did not renew some leases and declined others as it worked out a plan, still unannounced."

From a strip-mall owner's viewpoint, I guess it makes more business sense to invest in national chains than little-known local stores. That's too bad. Why not try the mix of a big chain store with small, locally-owned stores first? And if that doesn't work out, then replace all the locals with chains. To me, the problem now isn't Costco coming to Westgate. The problem is, it appears that the local independent stores currently in Westgate won't be allowed to remain there.

posted by jr at 09:57 A.M. EST on Mon Aug 15, 2005     #

Why not try to mix the "Big Chain Stores with the Small Locally Owned" jr, stated...

My thinking is: this is an excellent idea...I spend much time in Florida, many "Strip Malls" thrive in Tarpon Springs, Clearwater, Fort Myers,etc.,...

There are "Small Locally Owned Business's" such a Florist, Tanning Salon, Manicure Salon, a small resturant, Book Store, CD Shop, etc. and most always there is a "PUBLIX" (large food chain) in these "Strip Malls" in Florida.

It works well...Westgate needs HELP...Costco will provide well paid jobs for Toledoans, also, as HistoryMike stated...Costco's money stays in Ohio Banks...

Presently it all is ONE BIG IF...if it will happen...all Mayor Canidates seem against it to happen...

posted by MARIELORA at 10:25 A.M. EST on Mon Aug 15, 2005     #

Why does the government need to interfere in what stores will and will not be allowed to operate in Westgate? As a non-socialist, this is something that I don't understand.

Maybe there's growth in Sylvania, Perrysburg, Springfield, Oregon, etc. because people there understand the concept of market economics. Two businesses can make a deal without having Jack Ford walk into the room and take a dump in the water cooler.

posted by paddington at 11:11 A.M. EST on Mon Aug 15, 2005     #

Frank Szollosi writing about Carty's opposition to Costco:

"In 2001 Mayor Finkbeiner broke 2 tied Council/Plan Commission votes to clear the way for Wal-Mart in residential South Toledo. [Thursday] he held a press conference: "FINKBEINER REJECTS COSTCO" in favor of health food stores and tread mills. So much for the men and women of the various building & construction trade unions who are expected to see their leaders write Carty BIG campaign contributions. So much for those out-of-work men and women in Toledo, apparently Costco's record of generous salaries and benefits are a lower priority to Carty than shameless pandering to the 12th Ward."

"And unlike Wal Mart (& Carty), Costco respects its employees: The Teamsters represent about 15,000 workers at 56 Costco stores in California, New York, New Jersey, Maryland and Virginia. Carty's two biggest supporters are Bill Lichtenwald of the Teamsters and Dennis Duffey of the Building Trades. Is Carty's position on Costco their position?"

"As the chairman of City Council's Economic Development Committee, I am furious that Carty would sell out the unemployed and our local construction industry by rejecting a major investor and jobs producer. Then again, the whole mess we Democrats find ourselves in is on account of Carty putting his interests first. Its ugly and shocking to see Carty put himself ahead of jobs for Toledo. Is he off the Port Authority yet?"

"Costco is welcome in Toledo. We have a new set of design standards, especially with the joint work of the construction industry and Walk Westgate folks. Those standards would be engaged with this new development. Costco would be the catalyst to even more development across Central to the north, and across Secor to the east."

posted by jr at 11:26 A.M. EST on Mon Aug 15, 2005     #

Allright, Szollosi, yes, WELCOME COSTCO...

Yet, one point he made that bothers me is...that Walmart does NOT RESPECT their Employee's, meaning, what? because they are NOT UNIONIZED??? and Costco is?

Honestly, I am UNIONIZED and I don't see where there is any LOYALITY to the AMERICAN AUTO WORKER...Our Plants moving to other Countries, including CHINA (where many of you commented Walmarts Good come from)...Two Tier Wages the UAW aopproved...

I am all for Costco...I also DO NOT have a problem with Walmart or for that matter, any NON-UNION Retail outlet...

My thinking...with two-tier wage scales...we NEED WALMART...and...the Upper Scale Stores...we all have to SHOP...within...OUR PAYSCALES...

posted by MARIELORA at 11:59 A.M. EST on Mon Aug 15, 2005     #

Besides Wal-Mart, Frank S demonstrates another intellectual inconsistency by his praise of a Westgate Starbucks.

"Starbucks! Don't tell me a Starbucks at Westgate wouldn't be one of the chain's hottest stores in Ohio."

There's no logic in praising Starbucks and criticizing Wal-Mart. They essentially have the same business practices and goals.

posted by jr at 12:18 P.M. EST on Mon Aug 15, 2005     #

jr, wasn't Starbuck's the employer who FIRED an employee...

Their reason...she was a Union Activist?

posted by MARIELORA at 12:38 P.M. EST on Mon Aug 15, 2005     #

Praise Starbucks? Merely predicted it would be successful at a new & improved Westgate. Would love to keep locals there but with the draw of Costco the rents are bound to go up - would love to have the locals be part of the success.

In fact, I'm diappointed that Starbucks refused to sell the new Bruce Springsteen CD.

posted by szollosiohio at 01:50 P.M. EST on Mon Aug 15, 2005     #

szollosiohio...Hi, I do welcome will bring much business to the Westgate Plaza and jobs!!!

Also, though I am a Toledo Jeep Employee and UAW, I do not have a problem with feelings on it...aslong as Auto Corp. use Suppliers from other countries, actually move plants from our country and have two-tier wages (which my UAW allows)...why not Walmart?

Also...I did not know Bruce Springsteen had a new CD!!!

Coffee and Bruce's New CD...sounds GREAT!

posted by MARIELORA at 02:56 P.M. EST on Mon Aug 15, 2005     #

I seem to remember a story being told shortly after the 9/11 disaster that said Starbucks was the ONLY vendor in NYC that charged the FD and PD for water and coffee. Not sure on the validity of the story, but recall it being a big deal.

Costco, WalMart, Beaners - all are welcome. I see Starbucks as one of those overpriced, yuppified places that sells crappy coffee. If I wanted to drink something that tastes like battery acid I'd line up at the local garage!

posted by DoknowDocare at 03:47 P.M. EST on Mon Aug 15, 2005     #

I wish we'd get a Costco in town. I had the opportunity to shop in one a few months ago. They are nice, not the land of milk and honey (though they sell it), but nice...

There are plenty of empty buildings they could use. The Secor Showcase cinema, Dillards for the Home, Foodtown, etc.

But, let's face it, Toledoans are attracted to all things shiny and new; not just a new business in an old building.

posted by timault at 03:49 P.M. EST on Mon Aug 15, 2005     #

I have a question regarding the comment szollisoiohio made on the Local's Rent Increase with Costco...

WHY? Why not grandfather the Local's in for say 5 years...see how it works with having the Local's and Costco at Westgate...

The "Mixed StripMalls" work in Florida!

Starbucks, yes, seems a bit glorified coffee, doesn't it...I cannot see booting Barry's Baegels out of Westgate for Starbucks...'s a better idea...why not build a Walmart at Westgate! :-)

As far as Jack Ford celebrating anything anywhere in Toledo, WHO REALLY CARES WHAT HE THINKS...he did virtually NOTHING GOOD for our City while in office!

posted by MARIELORA at 03:54 P.M. EST on Mon Aug 15, 2005     #

I shopped at Costco for years in another state. They are much preferred over Sam's Club in my book.

Marie - your suggestion is great! A 5 year rent freeze for local merchants would be awesome. I'm not seeing the local merchants up in arms about Costco anyway - it's all the little neighborhood group and the politicos.

And Tim - the overall design of a Costco doesn't really allow it to take residence in a existing building. The warehouse component isn't practical in the buildings you mentioned. New construction would serve to make that entire area (Secor & Central) appear cleaner, brighter and more attractive - big box or not.

When people drive through a city - any city - they like to see things new, clean, and prosperous - not dark, barren, bleak and battered.

posted by DoknowDocare at 04:25 P.M. EST on Mon Aug 15, 2005     #

I think they're stupid for not welcoming Costco with open arms. I don't care if they are union or not, they pay their employees anaverage wage of $16.00hr and pay for 92% of their benefits. They are the #5 retailer in the country and growing. They prove that you can be successful, make money AND pay your employees enough to live on.

What bothers me about Walmart is this: Every one of the Walton family heirs is on the list of richest billionaires in the world. Yet they pay their employees so little (and pay for no benefits) that many of those employees are on public assistance. That means that you and me the taxpayers of this country are subsidizing their wealth.

posted by JeepMaker at 04:35 P.M. EST on Mon Aug 15, 2005     #

JeepMaker, I had thought...Walmart does offer employee's some kind of benefits...

If they are not...yes, they should offer some kind of Healthcare, something...

When I do sign my Walking Papers out of Jeep,hopefully soon! I am going to apply at Walmart, IF they hire me...I will know firsthand, the all's working for Walmart...and...I will Post my learnings here, on Toledo Talk!

posted by MARIELORA at 05:20 P.M. EST on Mon Aug 15, 2005     #

"Wasn't Starbuck's the employer who FIRED an employee... Their reason...she was a Union Activist?"


"May 24, 2005- Starbucks terminates IWW member Sarah Bender, a worker at the 17th St. and 1st Ave. store in Manhattan, for her union activity. Fellow Worker Bender's termination marks the first time since the founding of the Starbucks Workers Union over a year ago that the company has fired a worker purely for union organizing. The pretext for her termination was that she allegedly came out six dollars short on her cash register."

"July 17, 2005- Faced with increasing criticism from the IWW over its relentless anti-union campaign, Starbucks spends thousands on a full-page ad in the Sunday New York Times claiming it’s a socially responsible company."

szollosiohio said: "Praise Starbucks? Merely predicted it would be successful at a new & improved Westgate."

Why did you single out Starbucks over all of the other businesses mentioned in the article? Why tout Starbucks's possible success? Why wouldn't Barry's Bagels continue to be a success at Westgate?

You never said Starbucks should be prohibited. Starbucks would only succeed if it's allowed to spread. Why not have a pair and rail against Starbucks the way you do against Wal-Mart? If people want to buy at Starbucks, fine. Ditto for Wal-Mart. But what process do you go through to determine which businesses to protest and which ones to shop at?

Nowhere in Frank's blog posting or in his comments to his post does he mention his desire to have local businesses at Westgate. The closest I could find on his site was when Frank said:

"I'm for Costco at Westgate & the redevelopment of Westgate in line with the goals of Walk Westgate as much as possible."

And do those goals include the current local independent businesses at Westgate, which will be allowed to lease space in the new and "improved" Westage at affordable rates?

On this site, szollosiohio said:

"Would love to keep locals there but with the draw of Costco the rents are bound to go up - would love to have the locals be part of the success."

I think the writing is on the wall. I think it's a done deal. The plan is to push out all the locals who cannot afford a dramatic increase in the lease rates. Didn't the Erie Street Market do something similar a few years ago?

Again, from yesterday's Blade article, ominous signs were prevelant to Westgate business owners long ago:

"In August, 2004, Abbell signed eight new tenants to short-term leases, filling 40 of its 45 spaces by taking chances on local retailers who weren't particularly well-known. This year, more tenants left, including Thackeray's Books, which closed its business. Abbell opted to redevelop the center and did not renew some leases and declined others as it worked out a plan, still unannounced."

MARIELORA's idea is a fair compromise to the locals currently at Westgate and to the Toledo shoppers who have enjoyed Westgate for years. If no plan has been finalized yet, (yeah right) then Toledo needs to have something like MARIELORA's idea in the plan.

And why will the real estate rates go up? From that Sunday, Aug 14 Blade article:

" "From the retail community's perspective, there's a tremendous desire to be located near a Costco," said Dave Long, a commercial real estate agent with CB Richard Ellis/Reichle Klein in Maumee. Such a consumer draw is certain to spur investment in the nearby stores, which in turn could boost retail rents and increase the value of commercial property there, said Steve Serchuk, a retail real estate expert with the Toledo office of Signature Associates."

I predict the lease rates at the new Westgate will be intentionally raised so high that it forces out the locals who cannot afford it. Only the national chains will be able to pay to play. Is that the plan? Show me something to the contrary. I agree that Costco seems like a good company to have in Toledo and at Westgate. But what about the rest of Westgate, especially the local independents? Are they being forced out? It's ashame that the current business owners who have taken a chance on Westgate may have the screws put to them in favor of the chains.

In the Westgate redevelopment plan, I bet the only gaurantee the local businesses have is the chance to pay much higher lease rates.

posted by jr at 06:02 P.M. EST on Mon Aug 15, 2005     #

If people want to shop at Wal-Mart or buy sludge at Starbucks, that's fine with me. But when some get on their soapbox to oppose Wal-Mart but not Starbucks, then those people can't be taken seriously. You can find bad information about Starbucks too.

The anti-Wal-Mart crowd loves to tell us how Wal-Mart destroys communties, right? Why can't the same thing be said of Starbucks?

A not-so-big fan of Starbucks does make that claim.

"Starbucks is the transnational corporation that destroys neighborhoods. It is the chain store that is so completely out of control that it thinks nothing of putting three stores on one intersection. The ma and pa stores, the diners and all special places that make one place different from another are reduced to the stupid mall of Morebucks and its companions GAP, Barnes and Nobles, Staples and all the rest."

"Financed by Nazdaq casino culture money, Starbucks will deliberately snap up storefronts next to thriving community hubs, as it has on 9th Avenue in Hell's Kitchen near Broadway in New York City. Suddenly the The Coffeepot on 49th has Starbucks on two sides, both probably losing money and both paying the local landlords 3 times what any legitimate business could afford."

"$bucks is the new Disney, a company whose aggression makes it wrong on so many issues, from the environment to labor to genetic engineering -- this is a company that must be actively opposed by healthy communities. Support your local coffee houses!"

Starbucks could be an environmental leader if it only sold shade-grown coffee, but that won't happen because such a move would cut into Starbucks's profit margin.

posted by jr at 06:49 P.M. EST on Mon Aug 15, 2005     #

jr, you are probably right...the writing is on the wall...the Lease's will go up...forcing the "local's" out...

Which is WRONG...

I agree, bring Costco in, but, it is boot the "local's" out...when I suggested "grandfathering the "local's" rent" I meant...keep their rent the same as it is now for 5 if it works, A "Mix StripMall" (the "local's" and Costco), after 5 years raise their rent...then it's up to the "local's" whether or not to stay...


posted by MARIELORA at 07:33 P.M. EST on Mon Aug 15, 2005     #

Yes, I hope they keep a good mix of locals and nationals.

I think that the Westgate Coney Island is one of Toledo's best. Their gyro platter has a huge portion of that deliciously grilled ground lamb/beef.

posted by historymike at 07:50 P.M. EST on Mon Aug 15, 2005     #

So the question for all those who want to see the locals stay at Westgate: When their rents go up and, then, their prices, will you continue to shop there? Or will you, like most people, look for better bargains and shop where the goods are more affordable?

Whether or not the local stores will remain competitive is based upon us - and our willingness to support them, regardless of the prices they have to charge to remain profitable.

While I believe that many of us will do this, the vast majority will not - that's why WalMart is so successful...

posted by intrepid at 06:57 A.M. EST on Tue Aug 16, 2005     #

"When their rents go up ..."

But that's the screw-job here. Why should their rents go up? To me, the idea would be to keep the rents of the current businesses the same. The theory would be that Costco's traffic would bring more business to these other shops. After a 2-5 year "test" period, the Westgate owner in Chicago can raise the rent rates accordingly for these other businesses. Hopefully, they have enough business because of Costco to afford the new rates, and if they don't, they're gone.

Keep the rents the same for a while to see if the locals can make it. Are the Westgate planners implying there's zero room here for a compromise? Why not first try the "mix" idea of combining the current small Westgate businesses with the big box store anchor? If it doesn't work, then sterilize the place by switching to 100% chains. The Westgate owner has plenty of time to homogenize the city some more.

posted by jr at 07:49 A.M. EST on Tue Aug 16, 2005     #

Well, I don't shop at Westgate now, other than Barry's, but it's because I'm not able to afford anything beyond basic necessities these days. I think I've been to Coney Island once for lunch, when I was working at my old job and could get away for lunch easily.

That having been said, I would go to Costco if it moved in to Westgate. Even if I shopped at Sam's (which I don't), I'd prefer to shop closer to home and Westgate is definitely closer. As to whether it's the best location, I don't know. I'd probably shop there regardless of where they put it - if it was in this end of town.

And for the record, I'm one of those who won't shop at Walmart. Nor do I get anything at Starbucks and there's one within 100 feet of where I work. I bring my coffee from home, but I'd sooner grab a cup out of the vending machine than drink the sludge they sell at inflated prices. And yes, the whole refusing to sell Springsteen's album turned me off further. It's their choice not to sell it, though, and it's my choice not to buy their coffee. (Besides, Springsteen's album debuted at #1 - it's not as though he needed their promotion.)

posted by valbee at 08:13 A.M. EST on Tue Aug 16, 2005     #

Aug 16 Roberta deBoer column:

"We should learn more specifics this week about redevelopment potential for Westgate, that 1950s-era shopping century that looks more and more like some fish flopping around on the bottom of the boat, gasping its last. The good news? [Costco] gives every sign of being a fair-minded company that pays employees well and provides very good benefits."

And since Costco is not a Wal-Mart, Roberta says:

"That alone is reason enough, I think, to reserve judgment and keep an open mind."

Some people will grumble over Costco coming to Westgate, but I bet most will welcome Costco. That's why I think the focus needs to switch to what will happen to the current businesses at Westgate.

posted by jr at 08:39 A.M. EST on Tue Aug 16, 2005     #

I'm not saying that rents SHOULD go up...If the market is as it's portrayed to be - that many companies like to relocate next to Costco - then the logical assumption is that the owner will be able to get more for their spaces.

So if you're the property owner and you've got people who want to relocate next to Costco, you can get a higher price for your property - why wouldn't you want to make more money - it's not a sin (though some people act as if it ought to be).

If the property owner is a single individual, then he/she may be able to act out of the goodness of their heart and not raise the rents. However, if it's a partnership or a company with investors/stock, their obligation is to make a profit for those partners/investors/stockholders. This would almost require them to get the highest price for the spaces.

While some may see this as "evil corporations" not caring about the neighborhoods, I see it as organizations fulfilling their mission (to make money) and there's nothing wrong with that. And, in the end, by making money, they'll be able to grow/expand and provide better pay/benefits/etc.. for their employees.

It's called a free market.

posted by intrepid at 09:29 A.M. EST on Tue Aug 16, 2005     #

You can bet there will be higher rents in the revamped Westgate if the current plan bandied about materializes.

The old buildings will be razed, and new wings will be built in conjunction with Costco. I would estimate that per square foot rents will double, both to reflect construction costs and the much higher traffic generated by Costco.

However, I would rather have a higher rent with lots of traffic than pay a low rent in a retail morgue.

posted by historymike at 09:51 A.M. EST on Tue Aug 16, 2005     #

I still feel THE RIGHT THING TO to give the locals that are presently at Westgate a time frame of some kind that they are grandfathered in, with their lease rent...

Give them a CHANCE..."Mixed StripMalls" work and work well in Florida.

Show some kind of loyality to these business that have been Westgate...

But, it won't happen...everything is DOLLARS...


posted by MARIELORA at 09:57 A.M. EST on Tue Aug 16, 2005     #

I would hope that some of the existing Westgate stores wouldn't get bumped out because of higher rent.

But if a higher rent it is a fact of life, at least there's the consolation that there are so many other places to relocate to right in the Westgate Area. Whether or not I have to go the the Westgate Plaza or Cricket West or up the road to the old Foodtown plaza makes little difference to me...

posted by timault at 10:05 A.M. EST on Tue Aug 16, 2005     #

Why all this opposition to Costco and the alleged (but understandable) upscaling of the mall area?

I've been priced out of all kinds of things over the years. I don't go to "the mall" (and we all know WHICH mall I'm talking about -- the only real mall in Toledo: FP, WST, or whatever the name is this week) because it's much too expensive. I don't go to movies, ditto. I don't buy new books, drink coffee, and all the rest of it. This all happened because the prices of these things became unimaginably insane -- like gasoline, which I've also reacted to by becoming a "homebody" and driving less.

So why not let Westgate upscale? I'll just stop going there (for as little as I ever go ... probably once every 4 months at most). The people who have bothered to notice (like me) that they are permanently poor or under a constant bankruptcy threat -- let's call it PERMANENT ECONOMIC DISENFRANCHISEMENT -- will also stop going there.

The wealthy and wannabe-wealthy twits will then go there, and I'm grinning from ear to ear, right now, thinking it all through as I prepare to watch yet another retail site try to subsist on "selling to the rich".

There just aren't enough of the rich to go around, and the era of irresponsibly cheap credit is OVER -- which will demolish all these wannabe-wealthy twits. That gushing pipeline of those kids clutching mommy's credit card is going to ebb to a trickle. Those massive CC bills people have vastly invoked are going to haunt them in the new era of high interest rates, stricter payback terms, and of course the changed bankruptcy environment. (Time to actually PAY your bills folks, not just let things lapse while the fees form a tsunami of debt.)

The Costco bigboxiness is also another "straw man" argument. The Home Depot at Westgate put to bed the idea of effective local opposition to such things. And if local opposition really DID manage to bring people out with fists upraised, the city council will merely rezone the area such that it will be an "economic development" issue, use the now-Fascist definition of Eminent Domain to take property, and will just give it to Costco.


Locals can just go suck eggs, and start meekly submitting their job apps to these megastores, hoping they'll hire them for 8 to 12 bucks an hour (the new "life wage" for a Toledoan). Welcome to real wage slavery. But that's the way most people wanted it, since they worshipped wealth and were unable to justify using populist government to stop the terrible use of capital to assault America's middle class.

Just last night I saw the first visible FORECLOSURE AUCTION sign in West Toledo (off Berdan), to my knowledge. Welcome to the future. Most of you wanted this, because it was a matter of wanting the "freedom to buy a $50K house for $100K", and NOT the "freedom to live a sustainable middle class life".

P.S. As I said before, I'm going to evaluate Costco and then decide if I'm going to drop my Sam's Club membership in favor of Costco. If I'm going to be buying a large box of toilet paper -- a YEAR's worth! -- from the only suppliers I can get it from, then I may as well buy it from Costco only since they seem to treat their workforce much better than the rest (which in this case, seems to just be Sam's Club for now).

posted by GuestZero at 05:57 P.M. EST on Tue Aug 16, 2005     #

GuestZero - while I believe a couple of your posts take things to the extreme, I believe you've made a very valid point here.

People wanting more than what is reasonable instead of living a "sustainable middle class life." How true...these days, we aren't happy with a color tv and cable - we have to have big screen or plasma and get a dish and all the movie channels/sport channels/etc.

Things that were luxuries for our parents - or us growing up - are now necessities...cell phones, cars for highschoolers, multiple computers in a house, gameboys/playstations/x-boxes. Kids today believe they're deprived if they don't have the latest, greatest gadget - and parents give in to this because they were raised in the "me" generation.

I'm not opposed to Costco - I'm actually looking forward to them as I've never been to one. But that's because I was raised to understand that every "luxury" is attained because I've made concessions elsewhere, so shopping there may help me save for something I want - NOT bought on credit!

posted by intrepid at 08:49 P.M. EST on Tue Aug 16, 2005     #

Unless you are Ray Kest...

(historymike goes into "bad poster" corner)

posted by historymike at 09:19 P.M. EST on Tue Aug 16, 2005     #

Extreme? Intrepid, you don't know me very well, do you?

An adopted grandmother of mine put it best when she said to me in the late 1990s:

"Our society is drowning in affluence."

She's right. Too many people nowadays wouldn't be caught DEAD owning the homes they grew up in. Literally, they stick their snooty little noses in the frickin' air and dismiss the people who could be clones of their own parents ... they're not good enough to be their neighbors!

This is a generation of people who hate their origins. And the Crony Capitalists are selling them cheap Chinese crap and insanely overpriced credit icons (house, car, services) like hotcakes. The Free Marketeers have gone beserk and are servicing a destructive generation. These people LITERALLY live like there is no tomorrow. (Which is why I'm looking forward to the advanced personal financial crashes that the upcoming bankruptcy laws will enable. It's about time we called a halt to it.)

Now, when I say "generation", I can hardly target what the word usually identifies. For example, I'm in "Generation X" {spit}, but plenty of "Baby Boomers" and "Generation Y" also earn my ire from their terrible, irresponsible affluence.

The people in this so-called "generation" that I'm after are actually markedly spread-spectrum. You can find 16-yr-olds today who demand cellphones, cars and laptops (and that just for starters, folks), and as well, people in their 60s starting enormous mortgages on McMansions.

Affluence is now a disease in America. Instead of making rational investment in domestic sustainables, people are tossing money (more likely, CREDIT) at things so foolish that I'm almost literally tearing my hair out. Who the hell bought all these damned SUVs!?!? Aaaaagh!

The Costco thing is along those lines. With Toledo losing 1000s more population, another bigbox is moving in, and will associatedly drive up the rents on the rest of the tenants. We actually have people who think that this is a "good thing" ... as if driving retailers out of locations and perhaps out of business is EVER a good thing.

What idiot thinks that this kind of thing really has a future? Who really thinks that Detroit ISN'T a prototype for a Toledo of Tomorrow, given the way we are going?

I never planned on spending my life in a Third World country, and I'm going to fight and badmouth all those people and forces responsible for transmuting Toledo into a miniature version of that.

posted by GuestZero at 12:44 A.M. EST on Wed Aug 17, 2005     #

No, GuestZero, I don't know you well as I'm relatively new to this site, but your words are 'extreme' as well as passionate...just look at your last post:
- stick their snooty little noses in the frickin' air
- Crony Capitalists
- insanely overpriced credit icons
- Free Marketeers have gone beserk
- looking forward to the advanced personal financial crashes
- earn my ire from their terrible, irresponsible affluence.
- Affluence is now a disease
- tossing money (more likely, CREDIT) at things so foolish
- damned SUVs!?!? Aaaaagh
- I'm going to fight and badmouth all those people and forces responsible

Yes, I consider much of this extreme. It appears, from these words and tone I read into your posts, that you are very angry. While I agree that Detroit can be a prototype for a Toledo of Tomorrow, given our current path, I wouldn't consider us a "Third World country" and I don't believe that simply because Costco is described as a big box store that it will be bad for us - or for Westgate.

posted by intrepid at 06:44 A.M. EST on Wed Aug 17, 2005     #

I'm sure that you'll acquire a taste for GuestZero's writing, intrepid.

While there are issues with which I disagree with GuestZero, he has a flair for rhetoric that I enjoy reading, and he is a very well-read poster who brings a solid intellectual foundation to every post.

posted by historymike at 08:37 A.M. EST on Wed Aug 17, 2005     #

Agreed, historymike - he brings a solid intellectual foundation to every post.
posted by intrepid at 09:29 A.M. EST on Wed Aug 17, 2005     #

It's amazing what a little patience can do for one's opinion. Wait for the details and the facts.

Aug 17 Blade article:

"Mayor Jack Ford has endorsed a plan to bring Costco Wholesale Corp. to the Westgate Village Shopping Center, predicting it will "pleasantly surprise" critics of the warehouse retailer's proposed move to West Toledo. The move distances the mayor from his three main rivals in the Sept. 13 primary election, who all oppose placing Costco in the wilting shopping center."

"Lucas County Commissioner Tina Skeldon Wozniak and Toledo Councilman Ellen Grachek said they were skeptical of Costco at first, but that the proposal appeared positive for the neighborhood."

"Mr. Ford said the owners were still negotiating whether to keep any of Westgate's tenants in the redeveloped shopping center."

"[Westgate] owners detailed a two-part redevelopment plan in a 40-minute meeting yesterday with Mr. Ford. They told city officials they would show the proposal to Westgate tenants today. Mr. Ford said yesterday the plan fits with the pedestrian-friendly shopping vision outlined in the "Walk Westgate" plan community leaders drafted five years ago. "It looks attractive to me," he said, adding later: "It looks a lot different than anyone anticipated." "

"Workers in the first phase would replace Westgate's L-shaped buildings on the southwest corner of Secor Road and Central Avenue with a large store flanked by two smaller buildings, Mr. Ford said. One building likely would hold two larger stores or restaurants, and the other would hold five to seven, he said. The second phase, which Mr. Ford said was still in conception, would include building new roads and more shops on the other side of Central, which currently includes vast and largely vacant parking lots. The plans call for extensive landscaping, street improvements, and greenspace, two other elected officials familiar with them said."

"[Mayor Ford's] opponents remained skeptical of the Costco move, though all cautioned they had not seen the redevelopment plans. Mr. Finkbeiner's spokesman said Mr. Ford should wait for nearby residents and businesses to back the proposal before endorsing it."

posted by jr at 12:32 P.M. EST on Wed Aug 17, 2005     #

Funny - I would have thought the plan would have first been shared with the other tenants before the politicians!
posted by intrepid at 04:25 P.M. EST on Wed Aug 17, 2005     #

Tenants are often among the last to know. If you give tenants much of a head start, they have time to think, simmer, and hire attorneys to screw up a deal.

Not that this is right. As a commercial tenant, I have had a few landlords who kept me in the loop as far as renovations, but most just drop the bomb on you so close to D-Day that you don't have time to become a thorn in their sides.

posted by historymike at 05:27 P.M. EST on Wed Aug 17, 2005     #

Okay, so I understand the logic of not showing the tenants the plans first...but the politicians?!?

What does this say about us and our community? You better make sure the politicians are okay with what you, as a private property owner, want to do with your own property. They didn't go to the Plan Commission to make sure they were okay with zoning/design/etc... They went to a Mayor, a city council district rep and the former district rep who's now a county commissioner - and, I might add, a commissioner who has absolutely NO authority over this project!

This may be the "way it is..." but it's certainly not the way it should be. And shame on those politicians for not saying "thank you for sharing, but it's your property and as long as it's legaly allowed, go ahead!"

posted by intrepid at 06:53 P.M. EST on Wed Aug 17, 2005     #

To generalize - the bigger the landlord, the less they give a s**t about tenants.

When I leased space from Simon Property Group in the former Northowne Morgue..err..."Mall," in the late 1980s, it was like dealing with the federal government. You were just another of the many thousands of tenants, and there was no personal relationship. They once closed off an entire wing for remodeling in which my business was located, and gave us a day's notice of the 3-day shutdown.

Leasing space from a smaller, local owner is a much better way to go. I never got burned by a local landlord, and they keep you aware of what they are doing.

posted by historymike at 07:11 P.M. EST on Wed Aug 17, 2005     #

Out-of-town landlords won't run into you at Kroger's and get hit with a flying cucumber by angry tenants.
posted by Subcomandante_bob at 07:54 P.M. EST on Wed Aug 17, 2005     #

and, I might add, a commissioner who has absolutely NO authority over this project!

NO KIDDING!!!! I am so tired of seeing Tina Wozniak's and Jack Ford's photos in the same story. What is up with that? If I were a thinking woman ;-) I'd think Ms. Wozniak regretted her current job as commissioner. She always seems much happier when involved with the city's business rather than the county's.

posted by thinkingwoman at 09:45 P.M. EST on Wed Aug 17, 2005     #

Don't you know, thinkingwoman, that the County's role is to make sure the City is taken care of - especially when it comes to finances? Why do you think there are two former city council members who are now Commissioners...and now it appears the County's going to do all the financing for the Arena because the city can't afford it!

sorry to go off subject - rant over!

posted by intrepid at 07:19 A.M. EST on Thu Aug 18, 2005     #

Well, I agree completely intrepid. I cannot believe the rest of Lucas County is putting up with this. I really can't. When will Sylvania, Maumee, Waterville, etc. catch on? This is crazy! But the LCIC is made up of all the Lucas County municipalities and if they approve it there's not much we can do about it.

There's a lot more where this came from...stay tuned.

posted by thinkingwoman at 10:32 A.M. EST on Thu Aug 18, 2005     #

"[Westgate] owners detailed a two-part redevelopment plan in a 40-minute meeting [Tuesday] with Mr. Ford. They told city officials they would show the proposal to Westgate tenants [Wednesday]."

Any news on the latter? We get news of the owners meeting with Ford, but what happened in the meeting with the tenants? What were the tenants told, and what do the tenants think?

posted by jr at 10:55 A.M. EST on Thu Aug 18, 2005     #

Aug 19 WTVG Ch 13 story:

"[Westgate] management plans to make a formal announcement sometime next week. They also point out there is a phase two down the road. That could include more retail and even residential development on the other side of Central near Sears."

[Liz Holland's] grandfather built the shopping center back in 1956, and she now manages the property from Chicago. Holland says Costco has been talked about, but it's not a done deal. She says management has been talking to a number of potential anchors and Costco is one. Holland does say Westgate could see some big changes."

Still nothing about the Wednesday meeting with current Westgate tenants.

posted by jr at 10:02 A.M. EST on Fri Aug 19, 2005     #

Someone help me out here, why would Ford or City government be involved in the fate of retailers at Westgate?
posted by lets_talk_serious at 12:33 P.M. EST on Fri Aug 19, 2005     #

So they can take credit for anything good that happens there (new jobs or new development), lets-talk-serious...
posted by intrepid at 12:38 P.M. EST on Fri Aug 19, 2005     #

New jobs and development, is a plus for Toledo, but, not taking some measures to save the current retailers presently at Westgate is cold.
posted by lets_talk_serious at 01:32 P.M. EST on Fri Aug 19, 2005     #

Hey - here's a question, and a freebie to any media-minded types reading:

How come no one is busting Ford's chops for the hundreds of thousands (maybe millions???) spent to lure and entice Farmer Jack to the city, especially the unit by Bancroft and Cherry?

I recall reading in the Blade that the city was rolling out the red carpet in terms of infrastructure and (possibly) tax abatements for Farmer Jack, and that there may have been more spent in the conversion to Food Basics.

Whoops! Sorry, Jack - A&P pulled the plug on Food Basic$/ Farmer Jacked, and any money spent was flushed down the proverbial toilet.

I am too frigging busy to research it, but this story needs to be told.

Finally, as a citizen I can't get very excited about retail jobs being "created." 200 Costco jobs are going to be at some other retailer's expense, unlike a new industrial facility or the enticement of a corporation to relocate its corporate headquarters here.

Consumers only have so much disposable income, and Costco jobs - even if they are better-paying jobs - are only a function of retail cannibalism.

posted by historymike at 02:52 P.M. EST on Fri Aug 19, 2005     #

Toledo Tales takes on Costco and Westgate:

posted by historymike at 05:25 P.M. EST on Fri Aug 19, 2005     #

Two letters to the editor in the Aug 24 Blade exemplify the confusion some have about business.

1. "With so many large commercial buildings empty in the Toledo area, why can't one of these properties be used for a new Costco instead of destroying the Westgate Shopping Center?"

"Here are just a few examples of empty buildings with lots of parking: Showcase Cinemas and the Bennett Funeral home property on Secor Road, Cub Foods on Jackman and Laskey roads, B.J. Wholesale and Home Base on Alexis and Telegraph roads, or Food Basics on Laskey and Douglas roads."

"It doesn't make sense to keep tearing down buildings that are being used instead of ones that have been empty for months or years."

"I wouldn't be surprised if the people who are getting paid big money to find the right spot could come up with a few more "good" locations, beside the ones just mentioned, if they tried."

2. - "I don't understand why Costco doesn't use the property left behind by FoodTown (on Secor Road adjacent to the Westgate Shopping Center.) The parking's better, it already has a big-box store next door with Home Depot, and its an area sorely in need of help. Please leave Westgate alone and let it become an area for local commercial growth. We need more of our fellow Toledoans to support this gem."

I get the feeling these letter writers believe a higher being controls everything in Toledo and nothing is left to the business owners. The reason why Costco may be coming to Westgate is simple. The owner of Westgate wants Costco, and Costco wants to be at Westgate.

The Westgate owner can manage the shopping area anway she wants. If she wants to tear it down, then she'll tear it down. If she wants to jack up lease rates, that's what will happen. She's the owner. Of course, she may be "sensitive" to community concerns, but the owner has the final say.

I don't know if the Westgate owner owns any other properties in Toledo. Who owns the buildings mentioned by the letter writers? Have those other property owners been trying to court new business? Maybe they have, and maybe they talked to Costco. And maybe Costco rejected those other locations. Costco decides where it wants to open up a store, and they want Westgate.

Costco at Westgate is a business decision made by the people involved with both companies. This isn't being done by government.

posted by jr at 09:03 A.M. EST on Wed Aug 24, 2005     #

Thank you, jr! Sometimes I think there are only a few of us left in the world who actually understand this!
posted by intrepid at 11:13 A.M. EST on Wed Aug 24, 2005     #

jr, I applaud your attempts at defining the difference between private enterprise and government intrusion in enterprise.

IF the owners of Westgate strike a deal with Costco, then that is a business decision between those two entities.

No matter where Costco goes, it will involve demolition of an existing building and the construction of a new one.

The same folks that are wanting to hang on to the '50s and still see Westgate as that neighborly little shopping center would be squalling up a storm about how Costco wants to tear down another building in the Westgate neighborhood. You can't please some folks. Nor can you reason with them.

From my end of the bench - if Costco builds in Westgate and then rejuvenates the entire shopping center I will be forever indebted to them. Toledo needs progress - the '50s are gone and we ALL need to move forward. Like it or not.

As it stands now, the same locally owned businesses that Costco adversaries refer to are already moving out and have been, long before Costco ever announced an interest.

Instead of trying to stir a hornets nest about how much damage a Costco will do, why not take that same energy and translate it into more convenience, jobs for Toledoans, esthetic improvement to the area, modernization, increased property values nudged by convenience, etc.

Just my opinion...

posted by DoknowDocare at 04:56 P.M. EST on Wed Aug 24, 2005     #

Costco at Westgate is a business decision made by the people involved with both companies. This isn't being done by government.

Absolutely, positively right! Your whole posting was right on. Those who blather on and on about all the jobs they "created" don't want to admit they really have little influence.

As it stands now, the same locally owned businesses that Costco adversaries refer to are already moving out and have been, long before Costco ever announced an interest.

Agreed DoknowDocare. Westgate has been in decline for years hence the attempts to remarket it - "Walk Westgate" for example. Sometimes it can't be done.

posted by thinkingwoman at 06:03 P.M. EST on Wed Aug 24, 2005     #

We are debating the merits of a store that pays employees a decent wage. Yes, they are a gorilla, and a competitor. Is this something new? It appears that they will be paying close to 16.00 an hour. I might add that they will be paying better than the Hyundai-Mobis Chassis Factory that has offered employees a 12-13 dollar an hour wage. What is called the “prevailing wage” in the Toledo area for production line work. This factory will be taking jobs that used to be performed by Jeep employee’s making 24.00 + an hour, with full benefits. This was a direct result of the hardball played by Daimler-Chrysler for the production of the Jeep Wrangler. Keep some of the jobs, or lose all of them, was the dilemma faced by the Negotiating Committee of 2003. We need to wake up and realize that Wall Street is the enemy of workers worldwide. The fat cats on the street sit all day and night, trying to figure out how to strip the wealth from the middle class. They want to create a world where their financial games destroy any wealth America has the capability of producing. They are doing a fine job of strip mining America! Wall Street, allied with Corporate America, and the Bush administration, is robbing workers of what little they have left. Using the time tested method of divide and conquer. We need a NEW political party that sides with workers, and is run by workers. I feel that many Democrats on a national level have sold us out, just as the Republicans have. That’s another subject worthy of debate and discussion.
Read a little about Costco and Wal-Mart on this site. The rest of us are currently supporting the decimation of our ability to make a living. When over 60% of Wal-Mart workers are on government health insurance, then you can bet we are all paying for the low, low, prices!

Here’s another take on Costco and their business policies. Maybe the store isn’t so bad to have. Perhaps city government could work out some type of agreement with Costco concerning the stores currently in Westgate. It’s an idea. Another idea is to support businesses that pay a living wage. Any business owner that doesn’t knuckle under to Wall Street pressure has my vote, as well as my business. If the store doesn’t get built in Westgate, or nearby, I would suggest the empty Food Town store site in Oregon. Anytime a city can get jobs which can help to support a family, go for it. Are these other retailers in Westgate paying up to 18.00 an hour with good benefits?

posted by Bbcmjeep43 at 08:25 P.M. EST on Wed Aug 24, 2005     #

Aug 25 Blade story.

"A redeveloped Westgate Village Shopping Center would have less retail space, more landscaping, and be divided into four new structures spread around the 21-acre site, the first artist rendering released by the owners shows. The project would cost more than $30 million and likely take 12 to 18 months to complete."

"When it is finished, Westgate would have one large anchor that most likely will be a Costco wholesale club store, a building with two or four smaller anchors, and room in two other buildings for up to 14 small shops, said Elizabeth Holland, chief executive of Abbell."

"Construction for the new plan could begin in May, which includes demolishing the entire center, Ms. Holland said. As planned, the new center will have landscaping and other features conforming to pedestrian-friendly shopping guidelines outlined in the Walk Westgate plan that community leaders drafted five years ago, the Abbell executive said."

"Existing Westgate tenants must decide how to survive while the project is ongoing. Ms. Holland said no stores will be disturbed until after Christmas and New Year's, the year's prime sales season. However, until the anchor and smaller anchors are nailed down, it's unclear whether the two smaller buildings will be erected first, possibly allowing some existing tenants to move there while the rest of the center is torn down and rebuilt."

posted by jr at 11:26 A.M. EST on Thu Aug 25, 2005     #

Liz Holland, CEO of Abbell Credit Corp. of Chicago, the owners of Westgate, gave a 10 minute news conference at Westgate Thursday morning. She presented an artist's sketch of what the new Westgate might look like.

Click to enlarge.

All four local TV stations and WSPD attended the conference along with about 25 other people.

Liz opened with a brief history of Westgate and how it was state-of-the-art for its time, but now it's not. The goal is to make Westgate once again a start-of-the-art shopping center that competes with other shopping areas.

Liz said one major drawback to the current design of Westgate is the amount of parking space in front of the building with little to no parking in back. It's lopsided, in other words. The new plan brings the stores closer to the road. The new stores will be finished on all four sides, which is not the case with a good part of the current Westgate.

I must have grossly misheard Liz about the cost because the Blade reported the redevelopment would cost $30 million, and I thought I heard Liz tell a reporter it would be a $100 million project. That 100 number does seem high for a shopping center, doesn't it? Anyway, it's more than the change found under seat cushions.

A reporter asked Liz, due to the lack of Toledo officials at Thursday's news conference, would Abbell be using only private money to rebuild Westgate? Liz said they are still studying to see if they will need municipal assistance. I guess she had a meeting Wednesday with neighbors near Westgate and the dreaded "tax abatement" phrase came up. Liz aknowledged that "they" have spoken with Toledo to see what programs Abbell would be eligible for. Probably standard operating procedure. But no decision has been made yet by Abbell on whether or not they will need city assistance.

Someone asked if local labor would be used, and Liz said Abbell is pro-union and committed to using local labor.

Phase 1 of the project is a new Westgate. And if there's a phase 2, it would involve the other side of Central.

Smaller tenants won't commit to a new shopping center until they know who the big guns are.

According to Liz, the current tenants at Westgate would be welcomed at the new Westgate provided the tenants fit into the new Westgate business plan. If the current tenants don't feel the new Westgate matches their plans, Abbell would help the current tenants find a new home elsewhere in the city. No details about this assistance as it would vary from business to business.

A question was asked about the gas station proposed for the new Westgate, and Liz said it's not a gas station. It's a fuel depot. The difference is, gas stations today are also convenience stores that sell milk, gloves, shirts, snacks, beer, whatever. The "fuel depot" at Westgate would only sell fuel, and it would only be sold to Westgate customers, and it would only be sold during store hours.

And the reason why we haven't heard anything from last week's Abbell meeting with the current Westgate tenants is because the info at that meeting is confidential.

posted by jr at 11:57 A.M. EST on Thu Aug 25, 2005     #

Jr, good post. It is remarkable how much the idea of freedom (in business and many other areas) has been replaced in the popular psyche by government regulation. People actually assume that because they don't like something that they can, via the government, usurp control of it and manage it into operating to their liking. The last half of the 20th century did some really strange things to the way this country thinks. Even more strange, 48% of the country (and what, 95% of Toledo officials) wants to continue down that path.

On a technical note, the idea of re-using buildings seems to come up a lot. While it may seem to make sense on the surface, it is completely impractical for a national retailer.

When you are building and managing hundreds or even thousands of facilities across the country, you design a stable of prototype buildings that are set up to work with your equipment, your processes, your product and your vendors. On top of that, you negotiate national contracts with building material manufacturers and installers to supply and install things in a certain way, the same way, over and over.

Then, once it is built you manage the building with an expectation that it has the same service needs as any other building in the program, thus gaining more economy of scale.

Shoe horning a facility from a national program into an old Foodtown just because it is there would be enormously expensive, not only to design and remodel, but to maintain for years after.

posted by babbleman at 12:53 P.M. EST on Thu Aug 25, 2005     #

Progress, progress, progress....

If we (Toledoans) don't start thinking outside the box we are going to get buried in one!

Progress and prosperity involve change, cooperation, compromise and vision. A certain amount of common sense and practicality are required, too.

I love Toledo, but this 'good old days' mentality is self-defeating. Progress is sometimes scary and daunting, but nonetheless needs to be pursued. Nothing is achieved if nothing is attempted.

Let's move forward - Please!

posted by DoknowDocare at 01:11 P.M. EST on Thu Aug 25, 2005     #

Here's a PDF file (227k) that contains the artist's drawing of the new Westgate.
posted by jr at 04:54 P.M. EST on Thu Aug 25, 2005     #

I liked the new plan and artist rendering - I also really liked what Abell had to say about Westgate being state of the art in the 1950's and them wanting it to be state of the art today. This certainly doesn't sound anything like the Southwyck fiasco!
posted by intrepid at 05:19 P.M. EST on Thu Aug 25, 2005     #

Correction to post of 8-24-05 at 9:25 p.m.: Should have read: (When over 50% of Walmart workers are using government, or family members health insurance. Or have no health insurance.) Then you can bet we are all working together to roll back prices! The Walmart billionaires may have figured out how to get the government to give their company National Health Care! And force our companies to move to China, or out of business, as we all foot the bill for those soon to be unemployed and uninsured, as a result of their incessant drive for the low, low prices! The government is us. The U.S. Taxpayer. We are helping to pay for this health care. Read some more while you are at it.
posted by Bbcmjeep43 at 05:53 P.M. EST on Thu Aug 25, 2005     #

bbcmjeep43, I think you've been reading too many of edies posts.
posted by babbleman at 11:09 A.M. EST on Fri Aug 26, 2005     #

To babbleman. I actually went back and read through many of edie’s posts after reading your comment. I believe that person is a very decent and concerned citizen. I also notice that the account has been de-activated. Sorry to hear that. Yes I do think edie was very intelligent and right on the money. I agree with about 90% of what edie has written. This country is becoming a pathetic joke. It's time to do something about it. The first topic I will post is one we can all take a big bite out of. Get ready for a good old All-American free for all! I am reading through your posts, and believe you have a lot of good things to say. You are an intelligent person, and well read on many subjects. I believe you are wrong on the outsourcing issue. We can have a good old tussle there! Can you resist! There happens to be more to the cost of a product than simply the exploited labor that produces it. Before I start, let’s take this to the new topic shall we! I would also like to invite paddington. It’s time for a good old-fashioned debate!
posted by Bbcmjeep43 at 06:09 P.M. EST on Fri Aug 26, 2005     #

"I also notice that the account has been de-activated. Sorry to hear that."

edie's final comment here was on Aug 8. edie said:

"It's my last post on this thread and my last post at this site."

Since edie didn't need the account anymore, I deactiviated it.

posted by jr at 06:28 P.M. EST on Fri Aug 26, 2005     #

Yes, I did read where edie decided to leave. I understand that, and also why you de-activated that account. Thanks for explaining that again to clear up any confusion. You are a responsible person jr and that's one reason I like this site.
posted by Bbcmjeep43 at 06:48 P.M. EST on Fri Aug 26, 2005     #

Better late then never.

That link is to a Sep 25 Szollosi blog posting that says:

"Mayor Ford, Councilwoman Grachek, Commissioners President Skeldon-Wozniak, and I are supporting the responsible, private efforts of the Westgate owners in their redevelopment efforts, including a potential Costco store."

Well, isn't that special of you guys? Welcome to early-August.

Trolling for votes, that's all this is. Frank is carrying the water for Ford like a good little foot soldier.

First of all, Ford endorsed the idea of a Costco at Westgate in mid-August.

And where were the city and county officials at the Aug 25 press conference lead by the Westgate owner who unveiled the new desisn for Westgate?

"A reporter asked Liz, due to the lack of Toledo officials at Thursday's news conference, would Abbell be using only private money to rebuild Westgate? Liz said they are still studying to see if they will need municipal assistance."

More city officials attended the phony Southwyck redevelopment dog-and-pony show three weeks ago. The Southwyck owner was not present at that meeting and is not even involved in any redevelopment plans of Southwyck.

Keep government out of the way. The private owner will work with whatever guidelines the city creates. Was government involved with the Wesfield Mall redevelopment? I assume not, since the new Wesfield development went so well.

A commenter to the Szollosi posting said:

"The situation with Westgate is a perfect example of when government needs to stick to fixing potholes, and leave private business to take care of itself. The property is privately owned, and properly zoned, but the politicians will somehow get in the way and screw it up, and then find a way to blame any lack of progress on somebody else."

posted by jr at 09:54 A.M. EST on Tue Sep 27, 2005     #

Frank endorsed Costco at Westgate on Aug 12. He attacked Carty in that posting as well as in this Sep 25 posting. So what's the point of the Sep 25 post? Wouldn't be politics, would it?
posted by jr at 10:13 A.M. EST on Tue Sep 27, 2005     #

I posted this comment on the Costco/Whole Food topic, pasting it here...seems to fit with both topics...

Frank Szollosi is attacking Whole Foods and Carty for supporting it...WHY? If Whole Foods should open a store in the Toledo area...would...Costco not open a store at Westgate?

Why not open Costco at Westgate and Whole Food at Southwyck? That would help both areas that are barely living...

I still have a problem with Westgate locals rent raise should Costco open a store...wish the locals would remain with some kind of rent freeze, grandfather clause, for a few years...
posted by MARIELORA at 11:24 A.M. EST on Tue Sep 27, 2005 #

posted by MARIELORA at 10:32 A.M. EST on Tue Sep 27, 2005     #

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