Lowe's is coming to town

By Thomas Wilson
STAR STAFF
twilson@starhq.com
Lowe's Home Improvement Warehouse plans to build a super store off West Elk Avenue in Elizabethton the Star has learned.
The home improvement retailer would be the second retail giant moving into Elizabethton. Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. plans to develop a Wal-Mart Supercenter store on a 22-acre tract of land on West Elk Avenue.
The Elizabethton Department of Planning and Development confirmed last week that the city had received a preliminary site plan from a home improvement retailer to develop approximately 16 acres of property located at the end of Wallace Avenue. The land is adjacent to the property purchased by Wal-Mart. A Lowe's store averages 111,000 square feet in size and employs over 50 full-time workers, according to the company's annual report.
The company is required to submit a detailed site and subdivision plan for consideration by the city staff members including the departments of Planning and Public Works. Those plans will be presented for approval to the Elizabethton Regional Planning Commission and the Elizabethton City Council.
Based in Wilkesboro, N.C., Lowe's Companies, Inc. is the second-largest home improvement retailer in the world and the 14th largest retailer in the nation. The 57-year-old company employs more than 130,000 people and reported sales of $26 billion during 2002.
The company reported operating 896 stores in 45 states as of Aug. 1, 2003. The company expects to open 130 stores in 2003 reflecting total square footage growth of approximately 15 percent, according to the August earnings report. The company has undertaken an aggressive growth campaign opening a new store on average every three days.
According to the company's earnings report released Aug. 17, Lowe's reported record net earnings of $597 million for second quarter of 2003 -- a 27.8 percent increase over the same period a year ago. Sales for the quarter increased 17.2 percent to $8.77 billion, up from $7.49 billion in the second quarter of 2002.
When the Wal-Mart Supercenter development was being discussed, city planners noted the development of an access road system constructed parallel to West Elk Avenue. The access road system would provide traffic flow around the supercenter and the city's Cherokee Industrial Park while providing access points to West Elk at Wallace Avenue and Bemberg Road, according to the city's preliminary access road plans.
The city is also petitioning the Tennessee Department of Transportation to construct a bridge over the Watauga River linking the industrial park with the five-lane Northern Connector highway.