Texas, which has more dead Wal-Marts than any other state in the nation, is the battleground for yet another big box superstore. Residents from Austin, Texas have contacted Sprawl-Busters, reporting that the giant retailer wants to build a superstore in the existing Northcross Mall. Neighbors say the 220,000 s.f. store is too big — even by Texas standards. According to TV station KVUE, angry residents said a Super Wal-Mart is not what they want to see replace Northcross Mall. “We don’t need Wal-Mart this close in a residential area,” one neighbor said. “We just don’t need it.” Residents from the Allendale neighborhood, Crestview, Shoal Creek and Brentwood have all signed petitions opposing the proposed 24-hour Super Wal-Mart. “I’m just amazed at how easily they could sneak this project in here and how they caught everybody off guard,” one local business owner complained. Residents feel they are being double-crossed at Northcross Mall. “This construction is a 220,000 s.f. facility, roughly two-and-a-half times the size of Texas Memorial Stadium, two stories up for the building, three stories up for the parking garage,” one Austin resident said. “We’re talking a mass amount of traffic, 24 hours a day, going through our neighborhood. It’s unacceptable.” Neighbors appear to have an ally in at least one city council member. KVUE quoted Councilor Brewster McCracken as saying, “This is not about Wal-Mart, it’s about a Super Wal-Mart… that’s open 24 hours a day. That would be fine on a highway. It just doesn’t belong here.” McCracken said he was caught by surprise to learn about Wal-Mart’s plans, because a supercenter in this residential area goes against the city’s redevelopment plan. “We do have grounds, in fact, a legal responsibility to stop this site plan,” McCracken said. He noted that the city forgot to provide legal notice to the abutters about the project, and could have legal problems because of it.
A study conducted in Austin showed that local merchants invest more of their money in the area economy than big box stores. Wal-Mart currently has roughly 30 empty stores on the market in Texas, of which nearly one third are over 100,000 s.f. There are currently five Wal-Mart stores within Austin city limits, of which 4 are supercenters. There are a total of 10 Wal-Marts within a 20 mile radius of Austin. For earlier stories, search Newsflash by “Austin.”