Wal-Mart continued its series of plug-pulling events across America, as it announced last week the sun would never rise over its planned 3rd store in Sunrise, Florida. The City of Sunrise is located in western Broward County, with a population of roughly 90,000 residents — plus several million tourists each year. The city calls itself “the stage for spectacular, color-washed sunsets.” The community says it “remains a friendly place where natural beauty is valued and lush landscaping is used to enhance neighborhoods, thoroughfares and public places.” Sunrise has a “long-standing commitment to developing and maintaining itself as a sustainable community that preserves the past while planning for the future.” A third Wal-Mart won’t be part of that future, but Sunrise is already swimming with Wal-Marts, including a supercenter 5 miles away in Lauderdale Lakes. There are a staggering 19 Wal-Mart stores within 20 miles of Sunrise. In a letter to the city last week, Wal-Mart withdrew its application to build a 176,000 s.f., 24-hour store at the corner of Oakland Park Boulevard and Pine Island Road. Wal-Mart gave no reason for the sudden withdrawal — one of several such withdrawals in recent weeks by the giant retailer. But the Broward County Circuit Judge who owns the 18-acre property, blamed Sunrise’s drawn-out building review process for Wal-Mart’s pullout. “It’s very disappointing,” the Judge told the Southern Florida Sun-Sentinel. “The city did not act on the plans Wal-Mart submitted in a timely manner.” Yet city officials note that the project presented complicated traffic and land development issues. “It was a very complicated project with many complicated issues,” one city official told the Sun-Sentinel. One city official guessed that Wal-Mart dropped its plans because of the company’s retrenchment in planned superstores this year. Wal-Mart has an existing store in Sunrise that was shut down by Hurricane Wilma two years ago. A second store is located on Sunrise Boulevard. There is no market need for another supercenter in this area, with one already 5 minutes away. This is most likely why Wal-Mart dropped this latest proposal — to prevent further cannibalization of its own, existing stores in the area.
During the hearings on this superstore project, local residents from the Longacre section of Sunrise testified against the plan, saying that the new store would increase traffic gridlock, and raise crime. Ironically, the existing Wal-Mart in Sunrise was recently in the news because of criminal activity. A robbery team hit the Sunrise Wal-Mart on September 6th. Two men were seen running out of the main door onto West Sunrise Boulevard, dropping a large amount of cash. The assistant manager said he and two other employees were in the cash room and opened the door when they were about to deliver cash to the registers. At the same time, the robbers stepped out of the men’s room next door and forced them back into the cash room. After ordering the employees to the floor, the robbers put rubber gloves on their hands and stockings on their faces and demanded all the money in the room. One robber held a gun to the head of a female employee and said, “Give me the f****** money.” This is the kind of visibility that Sunrise doesn’t want, and last week, Deputy Mayor Roger Wishner said that a Wal-Mart supercenter would have been inappropriate for the neighborhood. Readers are urged to contact Sunrise Mayor Steven Feren at (954) 746-3250, or send him a fax at (954) 746-3243. Tell the Mayor, “Now that Wal-Mart has pulled its plans for another store in Sunrise, how about passing a size cap on retail buildings so you don’t have to put Longacre residents on edge again? A simple cap will keep Wal-Mart from coming back. You already have 19 Wal-Marts within 20 miles. If Sunrise wants to be ‘sustainable,’ you’ve got to stop accepting more Wal-Marts.”