Wal-Mart wants to build a 185,000 s.f. superstore in Greencastle, IN. The only problem is there already IS a Wal-Mart in Greencastle. It’s just not big enough to satisfy corporate headquarters. Wal-Mart has a store now in Putnam Plaza, but the new Wal-Mart will be twice the size of the “old” one. Wal-Mart presently leases the Putnam Plaza site, says the Banner Graphic newspaper. Area residents are now worried about what will become of the current Wal-Mart building when they leave the store behind. It also just so happens that the land Wal-Mart wants at the southeast corner of Indianapolis road and Vets Highway is not zoned correctly for big box retail. Wal-Mart wants city officials to rezone the land from industrial and agricultural to commercial/general business. Such rezoning will involve the Plan Commission and approval at two City Council meetings. But after all, this is important business to allow Wal-Mart to drop the old store and build a bigger one, with wide aisles! And the site will also need a special variance from the city because the parking lot would normally require 1,450 parking spaces, but it only has room for 980 cars. Greencastle already has a Wal-Mart — and some people in town feel that one Wal-Mart is more than enough. The second version of their store is only designed to increase Wal-Mart’s market share in groceries. And sometime later down the line if Wal-Mart wants to add a gas station to the parking lot to get market share in petroleum products, it will ask for accomodation for that as well.
All across America, it’s the portable Wal-Mart. “Lease ’em and leave ’em”. We counted 333 empty Wal-Mart stores as of February of 1999. It’s classic development, American style. These companies look at zoning they way some people look at drive through windows: pull up to a city, honk the horn, tell them what kind of rezoning you want, and drive away with a building permit in your hand. Welcome to Greencastle, U.S.A.