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Thread: Lowes "Dark Store" theory

  1. #1

    Lowes "Dark Store" theory

    Tl;dr #1:
    -Lowes and other big box retailers are suing Texas appraisal districts arguing that their occupied and thriving stores should be valued as if empty.
    -If successful in the courts and arbitration, it may create a domino effect with other big box retailers and commercial properties. Others retailers won’t even have to assert this theory, they can simply say "make me like Lowe’s."
    -Big box retailers with deep pockets know they can outspend and bust nearly every appraisal districts legal fund.
    -if the tax base shrinks on commercial properties, the burden gets shifted over to homeowners

    Tl;dr #2: For a good two minute audio rundown of the situation, click here and scroll down to the audio clip:
    http://www.iheart.com/news/dark-stor...ntys-15082081/

    Longer read and good quotes:

    http://watchdog.org/274790/dark-store-lawsuits/

    A chain of big-box stores in Texas is suing for big property tax markdowns, asserting that its buildings are comparable to empty stores.

    The “Dark Store Theory,” litigated successfully in several Midwestern states, has landed in the Lone Star State.

    Lowe’s wants Bexar County to reduce the appraisals at its 10 San Antonio area stores, currently set at $82 per square foot. Lawsuits are pending or threatened in Houston and other jurisdictions, seeking to cut valuations by half.

    “If we lose, where does it stop?” asked Bexar County Chief Appraiser Mike Amezquita. “All big box stores will do the same thing. Then it will be apartment buildings, hotels and offices — all the dominoes will fall.”

    Big-box storeowners maintain their properties are so specific and unique that if they moved out, the structures would go vacant (“dark”).
    Sign-up for our Watchdog Texas email list to receive the latest news and in-depth coverage.

    Using the state’s “equal and uniform” property value guidance, Lowe’s rival Home Depot recently settled for $65 per square foot — less than appraisal districts’ median “market value.” Unofficially, Lowe’s indicated it would be accept a median value of around $50 per square foot.

    “Even as local governments across the country continue to bend over backwards to attract and accommodate big-box development, these stores are consistently a terrible deal for the towns and cities where they locate,” argues Olivia LaVecchia, researcher at the nonpartisan Institute for Local Self-Reliance.

    Lowe’s legal representatives did not respond to Watchdog.org’s request for comment.

    Bexar County says it has expended $1.2 million in legal fees on the Lowe’s cases so far, and Amezquita is not optimistic about the outcome.

    “The proliferating dark store theory,” he estimates, could cost Bexar County up to $39 billion in “lost” commercial value over the next five years. That’s 64 percent of the total estimated commercial market value.

    With $22 billion to $25 billion in commercial property challenges through arbitration and the courts this year, Amezquita predicts the day is coming when local “bond ratings will be at risk.”

    “They’re spending us into the poorhouse,” he said of the rising tide of commercial litigation.

    Notably, Texas school districts — which account for roughly half of local property tax bills — are protected from any “dark store” discounts. By law, property tax shortfalls for schools must be compensated by the state.


    ON THE LEVEL: SMU professor Dean Stansel says “government should create a level playing field so all businesses are treated the same.”
    Dean Stansel, research associate professor at Southern Methodist University’s O’Neil Center for Global Markets and Freedom, said, “ideally, the assessed value of a property accurately reflects the value of the highest bidder — the owner — not the value of the second highest bidder.”

    Stansel countered the notion that vacated big boxes stay empty.

    “There’s an increasing number of examples of old big-box stores being converted to alternative uses. I’ve seen them turned into churches and schools, or broken into multiple individual shops. Just recently a cinema drafthouse in Dallas announced it would be buying an old grocery store to house its next location. The argument that these properties could never be sold is incorrect,” he told Watchdog.

    Additionally, Stansel noted the dark-store gambit “gives big corporations an advantage over small businesses, since the latter do not have the resources and political influence to get the same reductions in their taxes. Government should create a level playing field so all businesses are treated the same
    Last edited by To be named later; 10-09-2016 at 10:19 PM.

  • #2
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    I'm a capitalist, and I hate this $#@!. I'm also a start-up guy who has fought the big money corporations a few times, so maybe that adds to it. I find this kind of maneuvering to be the exact kind of $#@!ing bull$#@! that makes people hate for-profit businesses in general, and it is exactly the kind of thing that only big corporate stands for. I hope, for once, that the local government wins and that the lawyers and pencil pushers condoning this for Lowe's all die of gonorrhea and rot in hell, Dan Marino-style.

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    CVS and Walgreens are in on this as well. On the one hand I get where they're coming from as they're getting taxed on the business name, not necessarily the bricks and sticks. With that said, Even as a property tax consultant I wouldn't feel comfortable using this technique, seems shady really.

    Also wanted to say I hope it's successful in Bexar county as that entire CAD is a cesspool top to bottom and they deserve any and all $#@! they get.

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  • #5
    Quote Originally Posted by bluto View Post
    CVS and Walgreens are in on this as well. On the one hand I get where they're coming from as they're getting taxed on the business name, not necessarily the bricks and sticks. With that said, Even as a property tax consultant I wouldn't feel comfortable using this technique, seems shady really.

    Also wanted to say I hope it's successful in Bexar county as that entire CAD is a cesspool top to bottom and they deserve any and all $#@! they get.
    But if they are successful in Bexar County, that may open the floodgates from a legal and fair and equity standpoint for the Harris, Travis, Dallas counties down to the smallest.

    Like the analogy the audio portion draws, your home is worth X dollars whether you live in your home and it is furnished, or you relocated and it is vacant and on the market, but Lowes wants to say they are a vacant, unkept eyesore to the community, and the building has no highest and best use or value outside of use as another DIY home center or big box retailer.
    Last edited by To be named later; 10-09-2016 at 10:53 PM.

  • #6
    asshat RexWilson might be a clever chap. or know the right people. know what i mean, nudge nudge? RexWilson might be a clever chap. or know the right people. know what i mean, nudge nudge? RexWilson might be a clever chap. or know the right people. know what i mean, nudge nudge? RexWilson might be a clever chap. or know the right people. know what i mean, nudge nudge? RexWilson might be a clever chap. or know the right people. know what i mean, nudge nudge? RexWilson might be a clever chap. or know the right people. know what i mean, nudge nudge? RexWilson might be a clever chap. or know the right people. know what i mean, nudge nudge? RexWilson might be a clever chap. or know the right people. know what i mean, nudge nudge? RexWilson might be a clever chap. or know the right people. know what i mean, nudge nudge? RexWilson might be a clever chap. or know the right people. know what i mean, nudge nudge? RexWilson might be a clever chap. or know the right people. know what i mean, nudge nudge? RexWilson's Avatar
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    I dont agree with their stance but the Home Depot on 35 near St. Johns helps support the argument.

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    Quote Originally Posted by closetojumping View Post
    I'm a capitalist, and I hate this $#@!. I'm also a start-up guy who has fought the big money corporations a few times, so maybe that adds to it. I find this kind of maneuvering to be the exact kind of $#@!ing bull$#@! that makes people hate for-profit businesses in general, and it is exactly the kind of thing that only big corporate stands for. I hope, for once, that the local government wins and that the lawyers and pencil pushers condoning this for Lowe's all die of gonorrhea and rot in hell, Dan Marino-style.
    Is Dan Marino in Hell, with gonorrhea? I have not heard about this. Thanks for the update.

  • #8
    Rome

  • #9
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    time to fire a $#@!ton of the tits on a boar hog useless ass school administrators making 6 fig salaries.

  • #10
    Quote Originally Posted by MrPhlegm View Post
    time to fire a $#@!ton of the tits on a boar hog useless ass school administrators making 6 fig salaries.
    More like school districts will institute a hiring freeze, a salary freeze, raise school tax rates, student to teacher ratios will increase, no new textbooks, student services decline, the state will make up any school district shortfalls, residential homeowner pay their fair share, and pressure may fall on appraisal districts to push residential values.
    Last edited by To be named later; 10-09-2016 at 11:20 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Bullneck View Post
    Is Dan Marino in Hell, with gonorrhea? I have not heard about this. Thanks for the update.
    Well, according to some, he should be, so there's that.

  • #12
    well the sports authority at tech ridge closed down and mt playmore is now a booming business. but i think they might have a point. if that's the case there needs to be a provision to where they're charged at an ongoing rate regardless of other use.

  • #13
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    I don't handle too much big box appeal work these days but from what I remember most CADs value these properties on an direct cap income approach. I think putting them on a cost approach is the way to go and would potentially avoid this silliness. With these on an income basis, there isn't sufficient market data as most are owner occupied and the properties are at risk of having wild increases based on cap rate fluctuations in a given year. I'd be pissed if I was an owner occupied lowes or HD and saw my tax bill go up 40% in a given year b/c of one or two sketchy sales caused the cap rate to compress. /soapbox

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    TXTow is still in jail right? The first post reminded me of his towing thread he started.

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    Lowes is a piece of $#@! company.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Leeroy Jenkins View Post
    Lowes is a piece of $#@! company.
    While I'm sure people feel the same about HD, I refuse to step foot in a lowes. Last year, I tried to get them to price match a dishwasher from Best Buy. Like their policy says they would. It was something like $25. The clerk refused.

  • #17
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    $#@! Lowes. Let them leave the state and let's turn all their stores into giant strip clubs that have
    VIP areas with bounce houses and go kart tracks.

  • #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by closetojumping View Post
    I'm a capitalist, and I hate this $#@!. I'm also a start-up guy who has fought the big money corporations a few times, so maybe that adds to it. I find this kind of maneuvering to be the exact kind of $#@!ing bull$#@! that makes people hate for-profit businesses in general, and it is exactly the kind of thing that only big corporate stands for. I hope, for once, that the local government wins and that the lawyers and pencil pushers condoning this for Lowe's all die of gonorrhea and rot in hell, Dan Marino-style.
    Don't just blame the corporations, they are just trying to meet the demands of Wall Street, for more profitability and cleaner bottom lines. You know who owns those stocks, right? We do!

  • #19
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    You know who owns those stocks, right? We do!
    No, those stocks are basically owned by computer algorithms constantly trading them back and forth for no reason.

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    Quote Originally Posted by $#@! Greg Davis View Post
    $#@! Lowes. Let them leave the state and let's turn all their stores into giant strip clubs that have
    VIP areas with bounce houses and go kart tracks.
    If you throw in a kids club area for babysitting, I'll be your first investor.

  • #21
    What happened to all the Builder's Squares, Sportstowns, Incredible Universes? Churches (no tax), HCCs, $#@!ty gyms?

    What is the fix? Change the TX Constitution, or would that be unconstitutional (US)?

  • #22
    Frankly, I have thought for years that they should have some sort of exit plan required when they build these things. They are so big that use is limited. I don't think they should allow them to sit vacant past, say, two years. If you don't find some sort of reasonable use for it during that time, you have to knock it down.

  • #23
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    What a dumb $#@!ing argument they are making. $#@! them. I hope they lose and the CADs actually value them at market going forward. I've value a ton of these kind of retailers across the state, and they are almost always assessed below their true market value.

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    how about telling them, 'fine, you can have your reduced tax rate while you're open. but as soon as you shutdown, you take it in the ass for creating a blight, and/or you have to pay for the immediate teardown of the structure and restoration of the land.'

    $#@! them. they can't have thier cake and eat it too.

    actually they can and will because our system is corrupt.
    Last edited by wd40; 10-10-2016 at 07:31 AM.

  • #25
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    Is the eventual corporate response to go Amazon style where all the goods are centrally stored in a county with no/the lowest rate on non-land, non-improvement property?

  • #26
    How many of these got "incentives" (even PID PUD whatever) to expand there. Maybe just the Costcos (future N. Dallas) and Nebraska Furniture. I guess incentives are based on sales tax and that is different though.

  • #27
    Rich $#@!ers have been wallet/lawyer whipping Appraisal Districts from time immemorial. Check the appraised value of a Perot's house for example. Obvs they tend to be rather unique properties, but they're nowhere near the per foot valuations of a lot of their neightbors.

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    Quote Originally Posted by TwiceHorn View Post
    Check the appraised value of a Perot's house for example.
    $#@! that $#@!ing goat $#@!ing ewok.

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    All parties involved on the Lowes side need to die of aids...probably several on the gubment side too.

  • #30
    Quote Originally Posted by BA93 View Post
    While I'm sure people feel the same about HD, I refuse to step foot in a lowes. Last year, I tried to get them to price match a dishwasher from Best Buy. Like their policy says they would. It was something like $25. The clerk refused.
    What brand of dishwasher sells for $25?

  • #31
    Quote Originally Posted by woohorn View Post
    How many of these got "incentives" (even PID PUD whatever) to expand there. Maybe just the Costcos (future N. Dallas) and Nebraska Furniture. I guess incentives are based on sales tax and that is different though.
    does costco really get incentives to build out? i've never heard of that.

  • #32
    Quote Originally Posted by gsoda3 View Post
    well the sports authority at tech ridge closed down and mt playmore is now a booming business. but i think they might have a point. if that's the case there needs to be a provision to where they're charged at an ongoing rate regardless of other use.
    I initially thought Mt. Playmore was a strip club with all big natural titties.

  • #33
    texas's "equal and uniform" commercial value law is going to gut the tax base anyway. home depot settles for a median of $65. lowes says, hey, the median is lower because home depot's stores all just got their value reduced, so we'll go for $50! home depot then says, hey, the median is lower because lowe's stores all just got their value reduced, so we'll go for $40! then lowes says, hey, the median is lower because home depot's stores all just got their value reduced, so we'll go for $30!

  • #34
    Quote Originally Posted by gsoda3 View Post
    does costco really get incentives to build out? i've never heard of that.
    Hell, Comal County gave HEB a damn tax incentive to build a new store. As if they wouldn't have build another one in that growing county without a tax incentive... conservative leadership my ass.

  • #35
    In most cases, the reason these big box stores sit "dark" is because the big box store refuses to sell to a similar big box store, so the list of potential buyers shrinks significantly. Screw 'em.

  • #36
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    Quote Originally Posted by Heavy 6 View Post
    What brand of dishwasher sells for $25?
    Is this a real question. The price match discount was $25. Sorry if I didn't state that more clearly.

  • #37
    Time to replace all that lost revenue by taxing churches.

    Bernard

  • #38
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    Quote Originally Posted by topbutton View Post
    Hell, Comal County gave HEB a damn tax incentive to build a new store. As if they wouldn't have build another one in that growing county without a tax incentive... conservative leadership my ass.
    Yes but this one will be open.

  • #39
    Quote Originally Posted by slorch View Post
    Don't just blame the corporations, they are just trying to meet the demands of Wall Street, for more profitability and cleaner bottom lines. You know who owns those stocks, right? We do!
    Well, you can do whatever you want to us, but we're not going to sit here and listen to you badmouth the United States of America. Gentlemen!

  • #40
    Quote Originally Posted by topbutton View Post
    In most cases, the reason these big box stores sit "dark" is because the big box store refuses to sell to a similar big box store, so the list of potential buyers shrinks significantly. Screw 'em.
    Sam's on Beltline in Dallas moved and put deed restrictions on the lot that prevents grocery stores going in there.

  • #41
    Quote Originally Posted by gsoda3 View Post
    does costco really get incentives to build out? i've never heard of that.
    $3MM incentives from Dallas. Controversial until Dallas paid off the S. Dallas crew with equal.

  • #42
    Quote Originally Posted by woohorn View Post
    Sam's on Beltline in Dallas moved and put deed restrictions on the lot that prevents grocery stores going in there.
    its normal for Wal-Mart to have all kinds of leasing conditions and deed restrictions that make it hard to reuse their buildings.

  • #43
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    Lowes "Dark Store" theory

    The old Sam's Club at Hwy 6 and I10 was "dark" for a long time. West Houston Mercedes has spent almost a year and lord knows how much money slowly converting it to a building that doesn't look like giant mid 90s warehouse club.

    Slightly related, but I have no idea on what kind of tax break, if any, they got, but "It's an old Carvana vending machine. You remember them?" will be the correct local trivia answer in a few years to "what's that weird empty glass 5 story tower off of I10 just outside the belt?"



    Edit: yes ours is an even taller gimmick than Nashville's!

    Last edited by Llano Estacado; 10-10-2016 at 01:30 PM.

  • #44
    asshat SideSlip Shaggy Gold Club SideSlip Shaggy Gold Club SideSlip Shaggy Gold Club SideSlip Shaggy Gold Club SideSlip Shaggy Gold Club SideSlip Shaggy Gold Club SideSlip Shaggy Gold Club SideSlip Shaggy Gold Club SideSlip Shaggy Gold Club SideSlip Shaggy Gold Club SideSlip Shaggy Gold Club SideSlip's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Legacy of Kain View Post
    If you throw in a kids club area for babysitting, I'll be your first investor.
    Unfortunately, the kids club will be staffed by the dancers who are currently experiencing a 'flare up.'

  • #45
    Quote Originally Posted by rantanamo View Post
    its normal for Wal-Mart to have all kinds of leasing conditions and deed restrictions that make it hard to reuse their buildings.
    Yes and that is by choice, so they shouldn't be able to point to an empty box store that they refuse to sell as justification for lower appraisals on properties that are still operating.

  • #46
    I am for breaking up all these giant corporate stores and forcing them to all go to a locally owned franchise plan. Corporate Greed has just gotten silly, their only real focus is on the stock price and they don't give a $#@! about quality products or service anymore.

  • #47
    Quote Originally Posted by Llano Estacado View Post
    The old Sam's Club at Hwy 6 and I10 was "dark" for a long time. West Houston Mercedes has spent almost a year and lord knows how much money slowly converting it to a building that doesn't look like giant mid 90s warehouse club.
    i was wondering what was going in there.

  • #48
    asshat Blank Definitely Shaggy upper class Blank Definitely Shaggy upper class Blank Definitely Shaggy upper class Blank Definitely Shaggy upper class Blank Definitely Shaggy upper class Blank Definitely Shaggy upper class Blank Definitely Shaggy upper class Blank Definitely Shaggy upper class Blank Definitely Shaggy upper class Blank Definitely Shaggy upper class Blank Definitely Shaggy upper class
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    Quote Originally Posted by Heavy 6 View Post
    What brand of dishwasher sells for $25?
    Guatemalan?

  • #49
    asshat Rusk has a gigantic e-peen. Rusk has a gigantic e-peen. Rusk has a gigantic e-peen. Rusk has a gigantic e-peen. Rusk has a gigantic e-peen. Rusk has a gigantic e-peen. Rusk has a gigantic e-peen. Rusk has a gigantic e-peen. Rusk has a gigantic e-peen. Rusk has a gigantic e-peen. Rusk has a gigantic e-peen.
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    What brand of dishwasher sells for $25?
    A couple of big buckets, a few rags and sponges, and drying rack.

  • #50
    asshat RDCanecutter Probably Shaggy upper class RDCanecutter Probably Shaggy upper class RDCanecutter Probably Shaggy upper class RDCanecutter Probably Shaggy upper class RDCanecutter Probably Shaggy upper class RDCanecutter Probably Shaggy upper class RDCanecutter Probably Shaggy upper class RDCanecutter Probably Shaggy upper class RDCanecutter Probably Shaggy upper class RDCanecutter Probably Shaggy upper class RDCanecutter Probably Shaggy upper class RDCanecutter's Avatar
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    Nice store you got there, Lowes. Be a shame if anything happened to it and you only got half the Police and Fire Department support you used to.

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