City of Statesville ‘caught off guard’ by Lowe’s aviation move

  

Pictured above: The Charlotte skyline and Lake Norman are seen from above the Statesville Regional Airport – WSIC Photo

STATESVILLE, NC (WSIC) – The City of Statesville says it was not contacted by Lowe’s ahead of this week’s announcement the company would move its corporate aviation division to Charlotte.

“We were definitely caught off guard with this news,” says City of Statesville Manager Ron Smith.

After hearing rumors of a move earlier this year, Smith and Airport Manager John Ferguson reached-out to Lowe’s “numerous” times to discuss the situation. The city first learned of the official announcement when it was reported by the media Thursday afternoon.

“Our calls were never returned,” says Smith. “We were anxious to meet with them, and would have done as much as possible to keep them at the Statesville Airport.”

Lowe’s tells WSIC in a statement it has signed a lease with the City of Charlotte and is awaiting final approvals. According to spokesperson Maureen Wallace, the company is making the change since a number of its senior leaders reside in the queen city and most of its corporate meetings take place there.

WSIC asked Lowe’s Thursday if it notified the City of Statesville ahead of the announcement, but has not received a response to that question.

“We are committed to helping ensure a smooth transition in Statesville and are working with the regional airport to facilitate conversations with a number of interested parties,” said Wallace in the company’s statement.

WSIC also asked for a clarification of what Lowe’s meant by “facilitate conversations with a number of interested parties,” but has not received a response.

The City of Statesville is scheduled to meet with the retailer next week. City leaders have started to evaluate the impact of Lowe’s moving. Citing the tax office, the City says Lowe’s aircraft is valued at $54.3 million and the building at $7.5 million.

“We will know a lot more once we speak with Lowe’s (officials). We are not taking this matter lightly,” says Mayor Costi Kutteh. “We believe the Statesville Regional Airport is the finest general aviation airport in the region and want to do whatever we can to keep that reputation. Our corporate tenants are very important to the growth of Statesville and we want them to know we are here to also help strengthen and grow their companies.”

A hangar lease agreement is on Monday night’s strategy session agenda for the Charlotte City Council. Lowe’s plans to build a hangar at Charlotte Douglas and enter a ground lease with the city for a period of twenty years, according to a document about the vote. Two five-year options are requested following the initial lease.

The city’s document indicates Lowe’s will reimburse taxpayers for all of its pro rata share of site preparation and bear the cost of constructing the facility. Once complete, Lowe’s plans to pay the ground rent and other rents/fees associated with the site.

When contacted by WSIC, Charlotte Douglas Airport directed all questions to Lowe’s corporate communications. WSIC has reached-out to the City of Charlotte for additional information. That request has not yet been answered.

Lowe’s reported a net loss of $824 million when its fourth quarter sales and earnings results were released Wednesday. The loss is blamed, in part, on pre-tax charges of $1.6 billion.

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