Sprawl-Busters is playing catch-up with this case. The developer Widewaters Group, of DeWitt, New York, has gotten into water over its head in a number of land schemes. The company lost supercenter battles in Saratoga Springs and Ballston, New York, in Bangor, Maine, and ran into rough seas in Ithaca and Greece, New York. Sprawl-Busters completely missed the drowning of another of its projects six months ago in the town of Colonie, New York. The Albany Times Union reported back in June that Widewaters had walked away from the so-called “First Prize Center” project because the town wasn’t supportive enough.After spending nearly a year trying in vain to gather neighborhood support, Widwaters pulled the plug. Widewaters would have had to spend a large sum to tear down the former Tobin meat-packing plant. But when the developer met with Colonie officials, the project went aground. “We met with the leadership … and they told us they couldn’t support it in any way,” said a development manager at Widewaters. “There was not much point in going forward.” The Town’s Supervisor said the site was not appropriate for a big-box store and that the town would prefer a mix of retail and residential uses. “The amount of traffic I feel it would generate is not something we’d like to see in that area,” she said. “It’s still a residential neighborhood,” she told the Times-Union. Widewaters said it was shocked that the town would not support a Wal-Mart supercenter. “It wasn’t meant to be under the current political leadership,” the developer’s spokesman added. “We weren’t willing to swim upstream on this one.”That’s a mouthful for a developer called Widewaters.
We missed this one completely, but thanks to a Sprawl-Buster’s reader, the story of Colonie, New York is now in its rightful place among communities where local officials still have some sense that even an old, dilapidated slaughterhouse is better than a Wal-Mart supercenter. Widewaters drops another one, and Wal-Mart waits a year, and comes up dry.