Residents in the community of Lincoln, California were stunned this week to learn that their city has been targeted for a Wal-Mart supercenter. Part of a larger retail project, the proposed Wal-Mart-anchored mall, at 361,000 s.f., on 37 acres of land would be the largest in this city’s history. The Wal-Mart supercenter would fill up 227,000 s.f. of that total. A development company working on the project told the Sacramento Business Journal, “It’s in the perfect spot.” The location, near Highway 65, is also only 5 miles away from an existing Wal-Mart. The developer has given this enormous project the absurd name of “South Main Village.” With floor space bigger than 7 football fields-not counting the parking lots — this would be a “village” only for giants. The developer is paying nearly $11 million for the property. One of the neighboring commercial uses is not likely to be very pleased with this week’s announcement. Safeway grocery owns property near the site, but has not begun building, saying it was waiting for more houses to be built in the area. The grocer told the Business Journal, “Yes, we do plan to develop the property,” but the new proposal could put Safeway’s project on hold. The Journal said retail interest in Lincoln is growing, despite the fact that the community “is still a little green, it’s considered a good place to be for the long term.” Wal-Mart has not officially admitted its interest in Lincoln, but it has expressed interest in opening supercenters in West Sacramento and Woodland. Part of the parcel in Lincoln is zoned commercial, but the project will need to get land rezoned, which gives residents their strongest card to play. A piece of the parcel is zoned “village commercial”, and was meant to be used to meet local, small-scale shopping needs, not regional demand. Hence, the developer’s attempt to “look local” by giving the project the name “village,” as in “village commercial.”
Are local officials likely to be fooled by this inappropriate label? This huge project clearly does not fit into the land use plan for this area, and it will have significant impact on housing nearby. Residential property located near very large commercial encroachment will surely not maintain its value. Developers would call an elephant a “village” if they could get away with it. Residents have already contacted Sprawl-Busters about this project, and Wal-Mart has not even admitted its participation. The scale of this monstrous plan is forcing residents to quickly get mobilized.