Kimco in The News.....

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MainLineThoughts's picture
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So, Kimco owns Suburban Square. They purchased the mall and didn't pay transfer taxes to Lower Merion Township because of the same itty bitty loophole that deprived Radnor Township taxpayers of transfer taxes on a couple big land sales...it was in the paper...anyway, so Kimco wants to supersize the Ruby's lot and put in like 175 units wrapped in yet MORE retail.

Some commissioners in Lower Merion did sabre rattling FOR the project not so many months ago which would require re-zoning, and some did sabre rattling AGAINST the project. I think that in the end, it will be like everything else in Lower Merion, where these commissioners will once again say they have never met a developer they didn't capitualate to and North Ardmore will get saddled with this bit of piggy development. Of course, this bit of piggy development could be the death knell to Lancaster Avenue merchants, especially if Kimco gets approval to build before the redevelopment plans even begin. Why? Simple - saturation point.

But of course, here in Never Never Land we can't have too much development, we need more, more, more. It's quite ridiculous, actually. And this Kimco thing is just a bad idea waiting to turn into another bad plan. Kimco purchased a successful shopping center/mall to increase their lot in business life. There is no hardship. They don't have to or need to develop. They just want to. That's piggy. And Suburban Square has not been a great neighbor consistently, and they have issues especially surrounding parking and traffic that will get worse not better if they are allowed to develop further. And they hired former LMT commissioner Jim Ettleson to represent them on this, haven't they? Wasn't Mr. Ettleson was also represnting the wannabe developers of 130 Cricket in Ardmore until that went to court? So the whole point is this: I am going to provide snippets of articles where Kimco is in other parts of the country. Check it out and decide if you think we need more development on Suburban Square, ok? See where your trust level is on this one, ok?

The Real Deal:Updated On 07/03/08 at 01:05PM
Harlem businesses settle suit against Kimco
By Lauren Elkies

Five small displaced Harlem business owners have settled their lawsuit against Kimco Realty, one of the country's largest shopping center developers, and its partner the Sigfeld Group, attorneys said.

Although the businesses still must close by September 30, a settlement was reached last week in New York State Supreme Court for an undisclosed sum of money. Sources said the case was settled for more than $1 million.

The developers bought the sprawling two-story property at 125th Street and Frederick Douglass Boulevard last summer for $30 million, with plans to demolish the complex and erect a shopping center, said the plaintiffs' attorney, Adam Leitman Bailey.

Kimco and Sigfeld encountered strong resistance from the tenants, who claimed they were fighting to stave off gentrification and that the lease clauses calling for their eviction were illegal. The evictions "would end the old Harlem as we knew it," Bailey said.

According to the complaint, filed in January, the plaintiffs said the defendants sought "to demolish the building..., eradicate its ties to the culture and history of Harlem's main street hub, and rip out the heart and soul of Harlem, while replacing it with a generic shopping mall ..."

NYPOST:HARLEM SHUFFLE
BUILDING BOOM IS OUSTING OL' FAVES
By KATHIANNE BONIELLO and CATHERINE NANCE
August 12, 2007

The heart of Harlem is being reshaped - some say gutted - in a blitz of big-money real-estate deals, starting with nearly a dozen small shops getting squeezed out to make way for retail and office development.

"Harlem will be gone," lamented Lanise Benjamin, whose 90-year-old grandfather's legendary music shop, Bobby's Happy House, is being evicted from Frederick Douglass Boulevard. "To tear this building down would essentially be to tear Harlem apart."

Bobby's has been in the neighborhood 61 years. But along with nearly a dozen other stores, it got an eviction notice last month after the building between West 125th and 126th streets was sold in a $50 million real-estate deal involving three West 125th Street parcels.

While developers tout plans for hotels, condominiums, office space and national retailers, local businesses are getting left behind, store owners complained. The pressure of rising rents is being felt particularly along the entire length of the main commercial artery of 125th Street, where nearly a dozen projects, both proposed and under way, have sprung up

Save Vanishing NY:Tuesday, July 22, 2008 Harlem Mall

Earlier this month, The Real Deal reported that several of the small businesses at 125th and Frederick Douglass Blvd have settled their lawsuit against Kimco Realty, who plans to demolish the entire block of low-rise buildings and replace them with a big-box shopping mall. There were 16 tenants evicted by the Kimco plan--many of them, including Bobby's Happy House, have already closed.

The block, once filled with life, is now half dead....Soon, the rest of the businesses, from Manna's soul food to Roti Plus and the House of Seafood, will be gone.

What will come, we can well imagine. Everyone knows what a brand-new shopping mall looks like. And feels like. There probably won't be middle-aged men moonwalking out in front of it.

The Neighborhood Retail Alliance: Monday, July 28, 2008
Rangel'$ Community Auction

In yesterday's NY Times the paper highlighted the way in which Congressman Charlie "Stabilized" Rangel has a number of good friends among the city's largest real estate developers: "In many ways, Vornado Realty Trust, the Kimco Realty Corporation and Apollo Real Estate Advisers represent the real estate vanguard of the new Harlem...Executives and people tied to the companies, along with other real estate concerns, have donated hundreds of thousands of dollars to Representative Charles B. Rangel’s fund-raising operation since the 2004 election cycle."

And what are these companies up to in the community? Well, just like Columbia over in West Harlem,they're actions are (or will be) displacing long time Harlemites from their neighborhood: "Vornado is building an office tower on 125th Street that some residents fear will accelerate gentrification. Kimco moved to push out longtime local store owners to demolish a building and put a new retail complex in its place. And Apollo is leading a contentious effort to turn the historically rent-stabilized Delano Village apartment complex — which has been renamed Savoy Park — into a more profitable property."

So what we have here is another example of a used-to-be-a politician who came onto the scene as a defender of the community but who as evolved into a poseur who's grown fat defending interests that are antithetical to the folks that they represent.

Will Harlem lose its soul?
The death of an eatery.
By Will Bredderman / New York
Sunday, 03 August 2008

Like most other Harlem eateries, Manna’s Eighth Avenue location presents little to look at: it’s a standard two-floor affair, with the food on the first level and seating upstairs. The restaurant occupies the southernmost end of a low-rise building between 125th and 126th Streets: a red-brick edifice running almost the entire length of the block’s western edge and comprising several other establishments, all local businesses.

Just inside the entrance hangs an ornate crystal chandelier, a furnishing somewhat at odds with Manna’s predominantly utilitarian aesthetic. Once entering, patrons immediately pick up their Styrofoam clamshell carton and browse the steaming trays on the pair of glass-sheltered buffets.

Representing a broad cross section of the traditional Afro-American palate, the cuisine here includes Collard Greens Seasoned w/ Turkey Meat, Creamy Rich Baked Macaroni & Cheese, Corn & Okra ‘n’ Tomato Sauce, Manna’s Specialty B.B.Que Spare Ribs, Lima Beans Seasoned w/Ham Hocks, Honey B.B.Que Chicken Wings, Manna’s Homemade Peach Cobbler w/Homemade Crust, Southern Style Fried Chicken, Sweet Plantains, Crab Cakes, and Jamaican Style Rice & Beans, among other entrees.....The customers fit no one description: Manna’s serves a multicultural clientele, spanning races, classes, and occupations, from middle-aged white businessmen to Latino teenagers, to African American families and Asian American solicitors.

....Last summer, Betty Park and the other leaseholders learned that Kimco Realty had purchased their building and intended to demolish it. The deal was brokered by Harlem native Eugene Giscombe, of the real estate company Giscombe-Henderson, and a board member of Harlem’s Business Improvement District, a taxpayer-supported organization designed to bring jobs into the neighborhood. When asked about the development, Giscombe declined to comment.

Several businesses left the premises immediately, including Bobby’s Happy House next door, among the first African American–owned businesses in Harlem. But Manna’s and its remaining neighbors (the House of Seafood, Victor Body Lawson Architects, the Million Nail Salon, and Rotiplus Caribbean Cuisine) coalesced into the Save Harlem Association. Together they hired Adam Leitman Bailey, a prominent Manhattan real estate attorney, hoping to obtain an injunction against Kimco and prevent their eviction.

“My opinion is that Kimco does not respect how long we have been here,” says Park. “We want to take them to court.”....According to Bailey, Kimco’s representatives claimed in an early settlement meeting that they planned to build a four-story community center on the location. However, on November 15, 2007, Kimco ran an ad in The New York Amsterdam News for a much larger retail center called “Harlem Plaza” to be built on the site. He also states that his clients were collectively offered $100,000 to leave by January — an offer Kimco has since retracted.

“They are liars and they keep on lying,” says Bailey, a brash-voiced and energetic gentleman....Bailey argues that Kimco’s project will have a devastating effect on the neighborhood’s character, saying further that the development will take years to complete, reducing the 125th Street and Eighth Avenue hub to a “parking lot.” His legal case rests on the fact that the Save Harlem Association’s members signed their leases with the building’s previous owner with the understanding that they would not be evicted and the building demolished, granting them legal protection from Kimco’s plans for the spot. In addition, the lease included a provision waiving the right to judicial review, which Bailey believes should render it void under New York State law.

Bailey’s law firm has drafted a piece of legislation that would declare all of 125th Street — also called Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Boulevard — a historic district, preventing any further development along the thoroughfare. Bailey views his work in the area as an extension of the civil rights activism based out of Harlem in the 1960s, and of the prototypical American enthusiasm for “underdogs.”....The accelerated gentrification of Harlem over the past decade has left many natives feeling pinched between rising rents and changes to the neighborhood’s appearance and demographics that have come with the upswing in apartment building construction. Added to that in the past year have been Columbia University’s city-approved plan to convert a 17-acre tract of Harlem’s Manhattanville area into campus buildings — while demolishing most of the existing structures, including 132 apartments — as well the rezoning of 125th street to permit further high-rise and residential development...On June 11, 2008, Kimco Realty settled with the Save Harlem Association for an undisclosed sum. According to the agreement, the tenants must vacate the building by September 30 of this year. Most have left already. Manna’s continues to operate out of the 125th and Eighth Avenue location, and will relocate one block northward — to 126th and Eighth Avenue — sometime this winter.

Baltimore Sun:Squaring off on Wilde Lake future
Residents argue developer's plan is too large, far from original
By Larry Carson | Sun reporter
August 7, 2008

A discussion this week between Wilde Lake residents and officials of the firm that wants to redevelop Columbia's oldest village center sounded more like a verbal tug-of-war than progress toward consensus.

Kimco Realty Corp. officials first announced in March a $40 million plan to raze and rebuild much of Wilde Lake Village Center, adding 500 apartments. But residents are pushing an alternative plan designed by Columbia's original chief architect, Robert Tennenbaum, which they say would maintain the center's original character.

His idea would preserve inward-facing stores built around a village green in the late 1960s, despite recent vacancies. The center's small Giant supermarket closed in 2006, followed this spring by Produce Galore, and last week by Great Clips, a hair salon.

Mary Pivar, a village board member, accused Kimco of "having this rigid economic model. Five hundred units will not stand," she vowed after the Monday night meeting between Kimco officials, the village board and about 40 residents at Slayton House, the village's community center.

"It's so sad to hear our little village center disappearing," said resident Joyce Ardo, 60, a rare fan of the Kimco plan, despairing over the closed stores....Times have changed since the days when Columbia's founder James W. Rouse and his company controlled everything in the planned town and could force retailers to locate in the village centers, Glazer said. Now, there is competition from huge retailers such as Costco on Route 175, and a 160,000-square-foot Wegmans supermarket planned for a site off Snowden River Parkway, also outside the village centers....Tennenbaum derided the Kimco plan, saying construction disruptions would kill existing businesses, despite Glazer's assurances that he intends to keep as many existing businesses as possible.

Tennenbaum urged Glazer to build 200 apartments instead of 500...

August 13, 2008
Written by Sasha M Pardy
Developers Put Brakes On New Retail Developments

Market Correcting Forces at Work as Retail REITs and Developers Put Off New Retail Projects Until Demand Returns

One of the most prevalent trends we heard coming from the retail real estate investment trusts’ second quarter conference calls was their decision to put off planned new retail development until 2010 or later. In this story, we make note of this trend, citing specific examples of large retail projects that have been recently delayed and the reasoning many retail REITs gave behind making such delay decisions.

The American Institute of Architects (AIA) last month released its Semi-Annual Consensus Construction Forecast. In it, the AIA noted, "The downturn in design activity that architecture firms have been reporting in recent months is projected to produce a mild decline in nonresidential construction activity this year, before turning down more significantly in 2009." However, the organization pointed out that this "modest drop-off" would be "significantly milder than the two most recent nonresidential recessions of the early 1990s and earlier this decade." The AIA predicts an 8.3% decline in retail construction activity this year, and another 9.9% percent drop in 2009.....Kimco Realty Corp. (NYSE: KIM) currently has about 20 U.S. projects in various stages of development -- most were started more than a year ago and are in the tail-end stage of construction. And with the "tail-end of leasing getting tougher" at these projects, Kimco is unlikely to start anything new in the U.S. this year or next.

"As retailers have cut back on their expansion plans, as rents have softened, as costs have increased, as debt has gotten more difficult to achieve, our joint venture partners in the development business have found fewer potential transactions that seems to be viable," said David Henry, vice chairman and chief investment officer at Kimco.

Milton Cooper, Kimco's chairman and CEO, attributed the slowdown in retailer expansion plans to housing issues, "You don’t have any housing growth in so many markets and consequently the development isn’t going to make sense in most of America. There will be some pockets that are exceptions. There won’t be demand until there is a resurgence of housing and I suspect that’s a long, long way off."

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lmwatcher's picture
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You know, I was just driving through Ardmore last week (during the August doldrums) and it seemed pretty happening and busy to me. What do the commissioners wan't - Rodeo Drive?

I just wrote a few posts down about how development is already happening in Bryn Mawr with its new BMV "village idiot" zoning that will ruin once quaint residential neighborhoods.

I look at Ardmore and I see a monster. To me, its all about trying to increase the tax base by the commissioners because the local budget is out of control.

You ask me - it's time for some fundamental questions to be asked. Specifically - how did we get in this position with taxes going up so much now? I understand taxes were not raised for years, but was there no planning for the time it would come to pay the piper?

It seems to me there was no planning by the commissioners, the school board or the township government, they got in a tax hole - so they need to over-develop and ruin communities to catch up.

This is just insane mismanagement. If the citizens of Lower Merion will have to pay the price with out of control development and massive traffic congestion, how about the township picking up a piece of the pie and cutting its costs?

Nope, all this devlopment just provides a need for MORE government to manage the regulatory aspect and work with (pay off) the special interests. Its a vicious cycle and it's the citizens of Lower Merion who get hurt by it because taxes never catch up and before you know it you have lost your community and wonder how you are all the sudden living in a concrete jungle.

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