Wal-Mart has a discount store in Hudson, Wisconsin, located at 2222 Crest View Drive. The local newspaper, The Star-Observer, reported this week that Wal-Mart has sold the store to another developer. The new owner of the Wal-Mart building is Meridian Hudson LLC. It appears that Wal-Mart is making plans to leave its store and build a superstore on 64 acres of land on the city’s southeast side. Earlier this year, Wal-Mart said it was giving up trying to build a superstore along Hwy. 35 on the north side of nearby River Falls. The company ran into problems getting that site annexed into the city of River Falls. Sprawl-Busters reported on December 2, 2006 that Wal-Mart was abandoning the idea of a River Falls store. So they went 8 miles away to Hudson. But to build a superstore in Hudson means closing their existing discount store. The new owner told the Star-Observer that his company has no plans for the current Wal-Mart building. “We bought the building, but that really is all there is to the story,” he said. Wal-Mart has a long-term lease on the existing store and full control over the building. “So, effectively, we’re a passive investor in the real estate,” the new owner said. The city of Hudson’s Plan Commission also has before it a petition to annex 54 acres on the east side of the city for a possible Target superstore.
It’s somewhat unusual for Wal-Mart to sell a store while still occupying it. But the company is coming under increasing pressure from Wall Street analysts to reduce the number of dead stores it is carrying. Wal-Mart currently has seven “dark stores” on the market in Wisconsin, or a total of 508,186 s.f. — which is the equivalent of 9 football fields of empty space. At any point in time, Wal-Mart is carrying 300 to 350 dead stores across America. In the case of Hudson, they have sold their store in advance, and will be able to use that fact when negotiating with city officials in Hudson for a superstore. The company can now say that if the city does not approve their new site, they will be leaving the city entirely. Ironically, the Hudson Chamber of Commerce promotes its city not as a superstore mecca, but for “the amenities of a quaint river town.” Located on the very western edge of Wisconsin, the area bills itself as one of the fastest growing areas in the state. The city says it wants “to grow and develop while maintaining its historic charm and panoramic beauty.” To do that, they will build a “charming” Wal-Mart superstore. That “quaint river town” is on its way to becoming a “quaint big box town.” Hudson Mayor Jack Breault needs to hear from you. You can call him at 715-386-4765, or send him an email at [email protected] Tell the Mayor, “One Wal-Mart in Hudson is one more than enough. There’s nothing quaint or charming about Wal-Mart supercenter. Let them stay on Crest View Drive.”