Home > Uncategorized > From Big Box to Ghost Box

From Big Box to Ghost Box


A Home Depot "Ghost Box" in Southgate, MI.

An Associated Press article notes the problem of empty big boxes littering the United States.  Consider it one more reason to oppose the construction of Home Depot (or whatever big box) on the Humboldt Bay waterfront.

Less than three years [after opening the Home Depot in Bismarck], the home improvement retailer shuttered the underperforming store, leaving a big orange empty eyesore on the outskirts of town.

The building, sitting derelict and silent on acres of asphalt, is now listed for sale at $10.5 million. But there’s been little interest in the near windowless warehouse-like building that occupies a lot the size of a dozen football fields….

“There is not a landfill on earth able to handle all the big boxes that we have sitting empty,” says Julia Christensen, author of the book “Big Box Reuse,” who has been studying the trend since 2002.

[Image source.]

  1. Anonymous
    July 7, 2009 at 2:46 pm

    Wake up…do you see any empty buildings in old
    town..Just another scare tactic from the left..
    I suppose you want to get rid of your motor vehicles
    and go back to horses…I think that would be a
    great idea for this rag, beings it full of shit!!

  2. Plain Jane
    July 7, 2009 at 3:19 pm

    Yes 2:46, obviously being opposed to unsustainable big box stores equals being opposed to all modern inventions (in your narrow little black / white world).

  3. Ed
    July 7, 2009 at 3:22 pm

    One too many single malts at Hurricane Kate’s Rob?

  4. Anon
    July 7, 2009 at 3:27 pm

    Progress is progress regardless of consequence, right 2:46?

  5. Da Man
    July 7, 2009 at 3:57 pm

    At the rate that the EIR and the Permit process is going, there should be plenty of time to reassess the viability of a Home Depot on that site. I would imagine that before they break ground they’ll want to make damn sure it pencils out. Right now I can’t imagine how it would be profitable though. I do like the rest of the project I’ve got to admit.

  6. Not A Native
    July 7, 2009 at 4:26 pm

    That area could be better used for other things. For starters if Blue Ox millworks has to move, thats a good spot for it to go to. More “craftsman” and maritime activities there would be both a tourist attraction and provide the local community with interesting and enjoyable public space to develop their creative talents, have celebrations and festivals, and include retail and industrial production that aren’t simply resource extraction.

    Throw in some Native American and ecoconscious sustainability influence and it would be something like Williamsburg VA, celebrating a history that never was but should have been.

  7. Anonymous
    July 7, 2009 at 4:26 pm

    I’m not sure this says anything about “big boxes” considering this is occuring in Michigan- where houses cost less than cars.

  8. anon
    July 7, 2009 at 4:32 pm

    Yeah and when people die, their smelly corpses pollute the planet. Consider that a compelling argument against life.

  9. Da Man
    July 7, 2009 at 4:36 pm

    All great ideas N A N. Reality is that the land is owned by someone who needs to make it turn a profit or it’s not worth doing. I really like the idea of a living history thing like Williamsburg. That would be very cool indeed.

  10. Ed
    July 7, 2009 at 4:50 pm

    Lest we forget, the tract is still zoned public, not private industrial. If it wasn’t sold out by some of the city council, we could have a more meaningful discussion, not whether the owner will pave it over or make a profit.

  11. July 7, 2009 at 4:55 pm

    The photo is from Michigan. Empty big boxes are littering the country.

  12. Anonymous
    July 7, 2009 at 5:00 pm

    opposed to unsustainable big box stores

    Oh, if that’s your honest argument, then there is no problem. H

    ome Depot opens, it closes, and we have an awesome building to use as a convention center or housing or who knows what. And too boot, we have a complete cleanup of the balloon tract and that land finally stops polluting the bay. Capitalism works yet again, and any hole created by Home Depot leaving is filled once again by independent stores. Paradise!

    If Arkley wants to do all of that for Eureka, real progressives should be thanking him.

    What, you’re not thanking him? Oh, gotcha. Your economic arguments are red herrings. Didn’t work for you on Richardson Grove. Hang on hat on the economics again here and you’ll lose your hat, again.

  13. Not A Native
    July 7, 2009 at 5:03 pm

    OK Da Man. But I think turning a profit isn’t the problem. The problem is the timeframe used in “penciling out” the profit and a vision that is being a land developer and having a tenant pay your costs within five years instead of creating a place that is pleasant to be in and supportative of nature.

    And why is profit a necessity in this case? What is the owner’s plan to do with the profit, other than creation of more profit? Does every expenditure have to create profit? What profit is there is buying and living in a house or purchasing a car, book, or TV set?

  14. July 7, 2009 at 5:09 pm

    Home Depot opens, it closes, and we have an awesome building to use as a convention center or housing or who knows what.

    These empty big boxes are all over the country. They don’t magically turn into convention centers. They sit empty as community eye sores.

  15. Anonymous
    July 7, 2009 at 6:04 pm

    They sit empty as community eye sores.

    If Arkley was stuck with a building he really, truly couldn’t rent, he could sell it to the city, get a big fat tax write-off and you do what you want with it.

    But the truth is he could rent it out again if Home Depot left. That’s where the whole progressive argument falls apart. Environmentalists shouldn’t pretend to be economists.

    Arkley is taking the risk, and if he loses bigtime, the community still has that hellhole cleaned up on Arkley’s tab.

  16. July 7, 2009 at 6:16 pm

    Arkley bet that he could magically change the zoning of the balloon track from public use to private commercial use. That is a bet he will lose.

    If Tyson / Arkley tries to push through a zoning change without a vote of the people there will be a voters rebellion.

  17. July 7, 2009 at 6:30 pm

    You could guard two thousand people in one of those buildings, with four cops. Heck, the Target store already has gun towers.
    Ready made crowd control?
    Concentration camp?
    Homeless camp?
    Weather-Proof Drive-In Theater/suicide booth.

  18. Not A Native
    July 7, 2009 at 7:16 pm

    Oh yeah, sure. He could rent it out the way Dennis Hunter could rent out his dilapidated ice house to keep it going.

    All the falling down mills in Humboldt could easily be rented out and be well maintained according to you. Lets rent out the railroad and pulp mill too and that will bring them back to profit.

    A white elephant building is a loss and simply “renting it out” isn’t a magic elixer. Anonyi natterers should check their egos at the door before challenging nature’s economics.

  19. July 7, 2009 at 7:41 pm

    Heraldo wrote, These empty big boxes are all over the country. They don’t magically turn into convention centers..

    Yep, they don’t, do they? You need to have businesses available to occupy and fund them. Why do I feel the Lefties can’t understand that?

  20. July 7, 2009 at 7:44 pm

    Perhaps you can explain to the lefties the wisdom of building more of these mammoth big boxes when so many of them are quickly vacated and remain empty blights on communities all over the country.

  21. Ed
    July 7, 2009 at 7:57 pm

    tract still zoned public, not private industrial remember.

  22. Anonymous
    July 7, 2009 at 8:45 pm

    Big box warehouses are not likely to be reoccupied. I’d expect them to be torn down, as they consist of lightweight steel trusses and sheet metal walls. The biggest headache would be the permits, as usual.

  23. 06em
    July 7, 2009 at 9:24 pm

    The very first commenter said:

    Wake up…do you see any empty buildings in old town…Just another scare tactic from the left…

    How about Restoration Hardware, Old Town Bar and Grill, Shoe Envy, the Eureka Co-op on 2nd, Go Fish or The Cotton Works as empty or soon to be empty buildings? Is the former Blacksmith Shop occupied? How about the left half of Plaza Design? There are probably others I haven’t noticed yet.
    Anonymous 2:46 either doesn’t go down to Old Town very often or is so eager to support this totally inapropriate big box scheme that they are willing to ignore reality.
    On the positive side, Surfside Burger Shop, the Old Town Carriage and an antique lighting shop have opened in other spaces in downtown/oldtown recently. Support them if you can, because the overall trend is vacancy.

  24. 421
    July 7, 2009 at 9:26 pm

    Heraldo did you read the rest of the article? It talks about the re-use of the buildings. You can call it blight, but it won’t be any worse than it is now and right now they aren’t getting property taxes on a $10 million building. Seems like that’s what some people would want, property cleaned up, building built and sitting vacant. That way you get the property taxes and impact fees without the impacts.

  25. July 7, 2009 at 9:33 pm

    There are hundreds of empty “ghost boxes” and the solutions to the problem can be “less than ideal,” according to the article.

    Apparently some people think we don’t have enough problems to solve.

  26. OlderThanOldPhart
    July 7, 2009 at 10:34 pm

    This is a ridiculous argument. Why would anyone want to build or lobby for another gigantic retail box? We already have the BayShore Mall. It is huge. In fact it occupies roughly the same footprint s all of Arcata’s downtown commercial district. The Mall is dead.

    As the mall fails will we simply see it demolished?

  27. 06em
    July 7, 2009 at 10:38 pm

    I do like the idea (from the article) of a clause that any vacant big boxes are demolished before the owner can sell. I’d vote for that local measure.

  28. Time to get real
    July 7, 2009 at 11:04 pm

    Mr. A. and Tyson are in bed together on this one. If you think A. will turn it into a convention center after his big box fails, you need to change brands on what ever you are smoking. So hopefully, there will be a new council before the vote on a zoning change. Tyson currently will push three council members to vote Mr. A’s way.
    With the demise of the Bayshore mall you would think it would be clear we have way too much retail space already for Humboldt’s off and on weak economy. Mr. A. must be blind in one eye and can’t see out of the other.

  29. 421
    July 8, 2009 at 6:41 am

    Hundreds of them, oh my! There are hundreds of empty big boxes across the whole United States! What % of retail space is that, anyone? Oh, and by the way, this is a recession. Who cares if Arkley spends millions of dollars and doesn’t get any rent? It isn’t the only building on the development and most likely somebody will be working their butt off to keep it filled. I suspect you truly don’t believe it will sit vacant, that kills any traffic arguments.

  30. humboldturtle
    July 8, 2009 at 7:20 am

    How ’bout a giant KOA? Affordable housing, relocatable to high ground in a jiffy, good for local business, and if it goes bankrupt, no unsightly big box buildings.

  31. Anon
    July 8, 2009 at 8:06 am

    Is Linda and Larry the only council members that Tyson doesn’t personally console on how to vote?

  32. Da Man
    July 8, 2009 at 8:42 am

    counsel- not console

  33. unanonymous
    July 8, 2009 at 9:05 am

    there is empty retail space all over America, “sustainable or not”. quit complaining and do something……tear ’em down and recycle them? Also, remember that many of these big box companies buy polluted lots and do remediation work to develop. I know the usually naysayer argument they ain’t REALLY doing anything. but unless you put down your license to practice and experience in environmental remediation, and show regulatory oversight failure I personally think you are just blowing air. Even as eyesores, it’s better than the toxic messes there before them.

    I don’t think this is an effective argument to stop free competition. You should focus more on an intent to change this grubby little working town (or not working as the cycle goes) into a pretentious tourist trap and retirement community for rich city folk.

  34. Anonymous
    July 8, 2009 at 8:03 pm

    The Marina Center has dropped down Mr A’s priority list. Something big is brewing at Security National and they are quietly hiring here and in Louisiana.

  35. Anonymous
    July 8, 2009 at 9:21 pm

    Glad to hear you have a gauge on Mr A’s “priority list”, 8:03, though I don’t suppose he has the wherewithall to carry on multiple projects at once, hmm?

    Come August, we are going to be hit with the results of a survey/poll taken that shows that Eurekan’s are in favor of the Marina Center Project four to one, when a full clean up is done on the property, coupled with job creation the project will supposedly bring.

    Arkley’s comment on KINS a week or so ago was just the beginning of a the campaign.

    I’m skeptical of any poll four to one in favor of this project when Mr. A is involved, as there seems to be a large number of residents opposed to anything RA is a part of.

    Time will tell, but don’t mistake the relative inactivity of the project in recent months as being the same as dropping down his priorty list.

  36. Anonymous
    July 8, 2009 at 9:26 pm

    Haven’t heard from any people who received a call regarding a Marina Center poll recently. Maybe they polled exclusively inside the Security National offices-

  37. unanonymous
    July 9, 2009 at 7:34 am

    as the facts fall to teh wayside the speculation and innuendo against Mr RA surfaces. Love you guys.

  38. A Nonny Mouse
    July 9, 2009 at 7:51 am

    A quick drive-by survey of empty commercial buildings in Eureka only last winter easily produced over 125 empty sites, ranging from small offices to large retail spaces like the old Petersen Tractor site. Many more have been spotted an catalogued since then. Anyone who tells you that Eureka needs more retail must have a great love for empty buildings. At least they make good canvasses for taggers. Check out the empty motel behind the empty Eureka Inn.
    And a note about KINS polls. They have NO scientific credibility whatsoever. They are merely entertainment and in NO WAY reflect the opinions of the electorate. They indicate only the opinions of a pool of Arkley think-alikes.

  39. July 9, 2009 at 8:03 am

    How much is being collected under the vacant building inspection ordinance? Last time I checked there were only 30 or so properties on the inspection list. There are literally hundreds of vacant buildings in Eureka, mostly owned by banks and out of area speculators. Why not collect some revenue from them?

    have a peaceful day,

  40. anon
    July 9, 2009 at 9:05 am

    Come to think of it, there are hundreds. I wonder what percentage of those are big boxes. Maybe we should start penalizing the mom and pop stores that seem to be going out of business right and left, curiously without competition from evil big box retailers. Which is why no one ever accuses the progs of having much going on in the smarts department.

  41. blahblahblah
    July 9, 2009 at 3:40 pm

    Does Eureka need another hardware store? Nope.

    Does Eureka need an architecturally-blighting box on its waterfront? Nope.

    Does Eureka need to do anything with the ballon tract? Nope.

    Does Eureka need fifty more low-paying retail jobs without benefits? Nope.

  42. Anonymous
    July 9, 2009 at 8:31 pm

    A nonny mouse said:

    “And a note about KINS polls. They have NO scientific credibility”

    I am assuming you are referencing my comment at 9:21 7/08/09, and I agree with you regarding the validity of the KINS “polls”. Perhaps I wasn’t very clear; RA was on Talk Shop with Brian Papstein when he mentioned the “full cleanup” of the site, but the poll I mentioned is not one of the daily “questions of the day” types.

    RA commissioned a poll. Be prepared for a blitz in August emphasizing a four to one ratio of folks favoring a fully cleaned up site with a Marina Center on it.

    Blahhblhaah – I suppose we should get rid of the Costco as well, as its a big box that sits nearer to the bay than the proposed Marina Center.

    I’d actually like to see the baloon tract developed into something other than a Home Depot, but I didnt purchase the property.

  43. Anonymous
    July 9, 2009 at 9:03 pm

    Hmm… a poll that nobody’s heard of, with questionable results – those are always credible.

  44. Anonymous
    July 9, 2009 at 9:27 pm

    903, I’ve said it twice now – be prepared for this in August. Believe it or not, even anons like me can have sources, just like our favorite Pseudoanon, Heraldo.

    As I said last night, I question a 4 to 1 majority in favor of this, for the simple reason RA is involved, and there seems to be a sizable group of folks (like you?) who oppose the shovemeister no matter what.

    At least it’ll be fuel for the blogs when it comes out in full force, whatever the extent of the pro-marina campaign, and that will be fun!

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