Workforce housing and Menards, Minot, North Dakota
The Associated Press reports in "Menard sends state workers to staff booming Minot, N.D., store" (via the Green Bay Press-Gazette, the story is more complete than the version that ran in the Washington Post) that the Menards Home Improvement chain will hire workers in Wisconsin for their new store in Minot, North Dakota, and fly them in for weekly shifts, putting them up at hotels. (The media has been full of stories about the boom in North Dakota, and shortages of workers and housing, due to the shale oil and gas boom there.)
From the article:
Menard, which has more than 200 stores in the Upper Midwest, said this would be the first time it has ferried in workers by airplane, but it believes jetting in employees for weeklong stints and housing them in hotels “is going to be a permanent solution for as far as we can see.” ...
Businesses struggle to attract workers throughout North Dakota, which has some 22,000 more jobs than takers and the lowest unemployment rate in the nation, at 2.4 percent, Job Service North Dakota data show. The unemployment rate in Minot is 2.3 percent.
Menards is really missing the boat by not building housing above their store in Minot, making the store a mixed use facility.
Years ago, I remember reading about Tesco Supermarket chain in the UK mentioning the cost of worker housing as a limiting factor in their growth, given the prevailing wage rates versus the cost of housing. And they discussed how, as part of developing their sites, they could build housing above the store, although they wouldn't limit it to workforce housing. (They have since moved into the mixed use development market, not unlike how retailers in the US often develop shopping centers.)
In DC, Safeway has redeveloped two sites where they'll be part of mixed use projects with residential housing above, and a third site was built this way, but where a Safeway store hadn't been located, at CityVista Downtown. Plans are to redevelop other Safeway sites in upper northwest DC similarly. Giant Supermarket will be opening supermarkets on the ground floor of mixed use housing developments in Cathedral Heights, H Street, and the Shaw neighborhoods.
Rendering of the new Safeway + housing development in Petworth, on Georgia Avenue.
A Best Buy, Container Store, and a hardware store are in the old Sears in Tenleytown, and 400+ housing units were built on top of and adjacent to the building.
Flickr photo by NCinDC.
In the Vancouver development The Rise, a Home Depot and a Canadian housewares chain retailer, Winners HomeSense, are located on the first two floors, along with a supermarket, and there are apartments above.
Menards is missing an opportunity to be creative and innovative and solve problems.
Menards image from the Little House on the Corner blog. I don't have an image of the Minot store. I don't imagine it's any different from this one. Granted building housing above would have been more complicated. But given the demand, from their own employees and more generally, they could have developed the project differently, and solved multiple problems simultaneously.