Wal-Mart has shrunk its superstore by 30% — but it still may not be enough to fit into Hercules, California. On February 5, 2006, Sprawl-Busters reported that city officials in Hercules had ruled that a 142,000 s.f. Wal-Mart supercenter on the waterfront was too big for the city. The Wal-Mart store would have been part of a larger Bayside Project, a mixed use project on the city’s waterfront. City officials charged that the inappropriately located store would draw heavy traffic, and force smaller businesses out of the area. They noted that the original development plan for this site called for a retail center 45% of the size Wal-Mart proposed. The city’s staff report said Wal-Mart would “adversely influence the types of tenants” nearby. So the company withdrew its plan, rather than get voted down, and now, two months later, they are back with Plan B, just as we predicted in February. The so-called ‘scaled down’ store comes in at 99,000 s.f. still 55% larger than the 64,000 s.f. store the city had agreed upon. The city signed a development agreement in 2003 that called for a total of 167,000 s.f of retail space for the Bayside Marketplace, with no single store exceeding 64,000 s.f. Now Wal-Mart is saying they are in compliance with that plan, because their store is 99,000 s.f. and with the other retail sites in the proposal, totals 162,000 s.f. But the single store size is clearly still not right. About two weeks ago, the City Council made an offer to buy the land away from Wal-Mart. The citizens group which has fought this store from day one, Friends of Hercules, pointed out that Wal-Mart still has not complied with the original development agreement. The group has vowed to keep fighting the project, which is still not scaled down enough by the city’s agreed upon parameters for this project.
Wal-Mart should sell out, and move on. If they can’t even get their math right in Hercules, they shouldn’t waste city time until they are ready to shrink the size of their store to fit into the city’s plan. Wal-Mart should fit into Hercules — not the reverse. For earlier stories on this community, search Newsflash by “Hercules.”