Alameda merchants fight against new Orchard Supply
The approval for a new Orchard Supply Hardware in Alameda, Calif., is being appealed and will go before the Alameda City Council on Sept. 16, according to a report in the Alameda Journal.
The Planning Board gave approval in July for the Orchard Supply to be established at Alameda Towne Centre in a former Safeway, with the size of the building being increased by 1,500 square feet to 38,730 square feet. Also in the plans is an outdoor garden center on the north side of the building, as well as a 35-foot front parapet, new landscaping, benches and bicycle racks.
The appeal — filed on behalf of two local hardware stores, two nurseries and a private citizen — claims that the Orchard Supply would undercut local hardware stores and cause increased traffic and pollution.
“It directly impacts the local economy and shifts tax dollars from local merchants to Orchard Supply,” said Phillip Jaber, owner of Encinal Hardware, one of the appellants. “I think we would be more apt to compete with a Home Depot. Orchard is treading right on our playing field, taking our gravy items away — those widgets you sell once or twice a year that help you stay connected to the owners of older homes in town.”
The push to open the new Orchard Supply comes from Harsch Investment Properties, which owns Alameda Towne Centre and wants to increase the number of anchor businesses there. Among the anchor businesses already open are Trader Joe’s and Borders book store.
Orchard Supply Hardware, which is headquartered in San Jose, Calif., has 86 hardware and garden retail stores throughout California.
Beacon Lumber to close yard
Beacon Lumber, a family-owned lumber and hardware dealer in New Bedford, Mass., plans to close and auction off its lumber division, according to a report in the local newspaper South Coast Today.
The lumber company plans to keep its paint and hardware store opened, while shutting down its lumberyard and auctioning off materials and equipment on Sept. 20, according to the report.
The closure was due to increased competition, a poor economy and failure of pro customers to pay some debts, the owners said. The yard saw most of its business from contractors.
Because of the struggling housing market, the owners told the newspaper they’ve decided to shift the business’s focus to consumer hardware.
The company was purchased in 1982, by Armand and Steve Brodeur. At its height, Beacon lumber employed about 100 people, down to around five today.
Survey gives insight into what new-home buyers expect
The housing market may be slower, but there still are some buyers out there, and a recent J.D. Power and Associates Survey shows how their desires are changing.
The survey, which ranked home builders based on a number of design and consumer preference elements, included insight into what new-home buyers expect in their new purchases, notably on the “green” side of the market.
The study found that 28 percent of new home buyers perceive that their home is environmentally friendly, but a vast majority of these home buyers — 75 percent — say that their home builder did not identify the home as “green.”
The top green features that home buyers believe a new home should include are: energy-efficient heating and air conditioning units, energy-saving appliances, energy-saving lighting and temperature-controlling windows.
Overall satisfaction with new-home design has increased to 782 on a 1,000-point scale in 2008, up 36 points from 2007. Compared with 2007, the importance of the floor plan has increased in 2008. In addition, the flexibility and ability of builders to make non-standard design changes — such as relocation of an interior wall — is a particularly important new component in satisfaction with new-home design.
The study also found that 92 percent of home buyers reported receiving sales incentives. Among home buyers who report receiving incentives when purchasing their home, the average sales incentive totaled more than $16,500.
Also, the percentage of home buyers who report that construction on their new home was finished when they signed the sales contract has increased to 39 percent in 2008 from 32 percent in 2007.
Home quality has remained stable since 2007. The rate of customer-reported problems decreased in 2008 to 1,151 problems per 100 homes from 1,345 per 100 homes in 2007.
J.D. Power reported that the proportion of homes delivered both completely finished and on time has increased to 70 percent in 2008 from 58 percent in 2007.