Residents in Wisconsin report that Wal-Mart won’t be moving into River Falls, Wisconsin, ending years of wasted work and investment. The word of Wal-Mart’s collapse came via email. According to the River Falls Journal, a proposed Wal-Mart superstore on Highway 35N has been scrapped. The news did not come directly from Wal-Mart, but from its engineering firm, which sent an email to the city, and the Mayor passed the news onto the Journal. The email read,”I’ve received notice from Wal-Mart that they will not be proceeding with their proposed development at the intersection of Highway 35 and Radio Road…” The newspaper reports that River Falls Mayor Don Richards called the engineering firm when he learned of the email. The engineering company listed three reasons for the withdrawal: 1) The Wisconsin Department of Transportation (DOT) rejected Wal-Mart’s plans for a traffic signal at the main intersection because a signal didn’t fit with the state’s overall plans. 2) The state DOT said it would take between 3-5 years to build the planned interchange. 3) Extending utilities to the site posed challenges. The Mayor was apparently caught by surprise by this pullout, telling the Journal that he hadn’t heard from Wal-Mart in months. The Mayor said that Wal-Mart’s chances of considering another site in River Falls was “slim.” The Mayor added, “They need at least 20 acres of flat land and couldn’t find it here…There’s not a lot of flat land around River Falls. I was disappointed in the sense that we were going to try to convince them to be green (if they were coming in).” The Mayor said that if Wal-Mart agreed to build a green “environmental” store — which it only has done in several locations — he’d have welcomed them to River Falls. “The DOT’s unwillingness to put in a traffic signal kind of had a chilling effect,” the town’s Administrator told the Journal. “…Given the interchange situation, I am not surprised to hear this.”
Don’t shed a tear for shoppers in River Falls. If they are addicted to Chinese imports, they can still find Wal-Marts all around. There are no less than 7 Wal-Mart stores within 21 miles of River Falls, the closest being a discount store 8 miles away in Hudson, Wisconsin. But there are also nearby Wal-Marts in Woodbury, Minnesota, Hastings, and Oak Park Heights, Minnesota. There are also 3 Wal-Mart supercenters in New Richmond, Wisconsin, Red Wing, Minnesota, and Inver Grove Heights, Minnesota. All of these stores are within a half hour drive of River Falls. If the River Falls supercenter had opened, it likely would have caused the Hudson Wal-Mart to shut down, just as the company has closed as many as a thousand of its discount stores. Wal-Mart currently has 9 empty discount stores for sale in Wisconsin, a total of more than 690,000 s.f. of dark stores. That’s the equivalent of more than 14 football fields of empty stores.