Hardware giant closes shopOct 28th, 2011 | By William Dilella | Category: Top Story
Lowe’s Companies announced 20 store closings this past week, including the Chalmette location which shut down for good on October 16.
“As is known at this point, the local Lowe’s has closed it’s doors,” said Parish President Craig Taffaro. “The company offered no advance notice to this decision, although indications that their sale productions were under target was revealed.”
Lowe’s corporate timed the move along with a “quiet period” that comes before the beginning of a new fiscal quarter, and offered no comment other than the official statement. Employees at the Chalmette location, which was one of the stores to immediately close on Sunday, were not permitted to speak about the closure.
Part of the closure includes a temporary payment package for employees, covering them for about 60-90 days. The company has also promised to work with local entities surrounding the stores to ease the transition period, as the company put it.
Stephen Reuther, CEO of the St. Bernard Chamber of Commerce responded to news of the closure and spoke on the local economic impact.
“As I’m sure everyone in the community is, the St. Bernard Chamber is disappointed to be losing Lowe’s as a member of our business community,” said Reuther. “They are a major employer in St. Bernard Parish and made a substantial investment with their retail store that helped to bolster the re-development of commercial real estate on that part of Judge Perez Drive.”
“Despite a struggling national economy and a sluggish local real estate and construction industry, I expected Lowe’s to remain a long term retailer in St. Bernard Parish and to ride out whatever slumps in the market may have come along,” Reuther continued. “Instead we are left with another large, vacated piece of real estate.”
According to the terms of the lease Lowe’s signed, which included a no-exit clause, the company will continue to pay rent on the facility which was built specifically for the company when it opened after Katrina.
“Hopefully with the combined efforts of Parish Government, the St. Bernard Chamber of Commerce and the Economic Development Foundation, we can find an investor willing to repurpose and re-develop that property into something that benefits the community and provides another opportunity for tax revenue, employment, and long term investment in St. Bernard Parish,” said Reuther.
Local officials on the Parish Council, including Councilman-at-Large West Frank Auderer, said he is optimistic about continued revenue for the Parish. No budget numbers have been performed yet to assess the possible impact on the Parish revenues, but many expect that the local Home Depot as well as the other privately owned hardware stores to compensate for the loss.
As the next election will decide various council and government positions, Reuther went on to comment that the Lowe’s closure is another example of why business and government need to be in communication for the betterment of the Parish.
“There’s a significant amount of effort undertaken by each party to ensure growth and development in St. Bernard. But for any new candidates taking office, they need to understand what The St. Bernard Chamber of Commerce and the Economic Development Foundation do to foster business growth, and they must work with us to help maximize the opportunities that come our way in the future.”
Lowe’s Companies also announced that it now only expects to open a dozen or so stores in 2012, compared to the estimated 30 stores per year originally forecasted.
“In addition to the store closings, after completing a comprehensive review of [the Lowe’s] pipeline of proposed new stores, the Company announced it has discontinued a number of planned new store projects,” said the company.
Story and photos by William Dilella