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Thread: Your dealings with Walmart and Home Depot

  1. #26
    Cyburbian ludes98's avatar
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    permaplanjuneau, has your street system been built out to it's full capacity? Right turn decel lanes? Most cities here require full half street improvements for new projects and large expansions. Many of these companies will want to do some improvements if it means getting customers in their parking lot. Out? Well that is a different story...

  2. #27
    Cyburbian Emeritus Chet's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by SGB
    If their site or sites require any infrastructure that benefit their projects only, with no potential for benefit of other properties - mandate that it remain privately owned, operated and maintained infrastructure. They'll hate you, but your public works department and taxpayers will thank you
    I agree to the externt it is allowed. In Wisconsin the Public Service Commission mandates utility ownership of watermains, even those serving private developments.

  3. #28
    Cyburbian MitchBaby's avatar
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    WalMart in Vancouver

    I don't know if its applicable, but the City of Vancouver told walmart to come back to the table with something unique and totally different from the usual big box retail. The new submission is a completely Green Site, including water reclamation, treed parking lot, windmill, geothermal heating. The full-meal-deal.

    Here's the link to the news story about it.

    http://www.canada.com/vancouver/vanc...0840e87&page=1
    Mitchbaby: Proud to be a :canada: planner and a :canada: surfer

  4. #29
    Cyburbian brian_w's avatar
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    I heard once, don't remember the source, that big box places like Wal-Mart, Home Depot, etc. expect to hear no at least three times from the cities they go into, so they start with the cheapest box they can get away with and add a little to the plan every time the City says no until they say yes thinking they've got a great product out of them.

    We took this approach when Wal-Mart tried to shoe-horn in a Super Wal-Mart into an urban neighborhood. We kept telling them no, it wasn't the right site and even if it was, the architecture was poor, they came back a few times and were told no, until, I'm assuming, they reached a point where what we were requiring architecturally was more than they wanted to invest in the site.
    You only need two tools: WD-40 and Duct Tape. If it doesn't move and should, use the WD-40. If it shouldn't move and does, use the duct tape.

  5. #30
    I saw this at christmas and couldn't help but stop and take a photo. This is 1/2 of a Super Walmart. I could not get it all into the shot from that hill.

    This is what you get if you don't negotiate

    http://www.urbancharlotte.com/ptx2/v...art_vomits.jpg
    Location - Anyplace, USA)
    Last edited by NHPlanner; 20 Aug 2007 at 11:50 AM. Reason: leeched image replaced with a URL

  6. #31
    Cyburbian Cardinal's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by metroboi
    I saw this at christmas and couldn't help but stop and take a photo. This is 1/2 of a Super Walmart. I could not get it all into the shot from that hill.

    This is what you get if you don't negotiate

    http://www.urbancharlotte.com/ptx2/v...art_vomits.jpg
    Location - Anyplace, USA)
    Beautiful! Commerce at its finest! Think of all the tax dollars rolling into this city. I'll bet its neighbors are feeling the pain.
    Last edited by NHPlanner; 20 Aug 2007 at 11:50 AM. Reason: leeched image replaced with a URL
    Anyone want to adopt a dog?

  7. #32
    moderator in moderation Suburb Repairman's avatar
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    Update

    Since I'm the one that started this thread six months ago, I figured that I'd give you all an update.

    We've gone round-n-round with the development company that is working with Home Depot. Though they don't always communicate well, they do respond very well to constructive criticism. When I told them I didn't like something, I always offered solutions and pictures of what we are after. They have ended up doing a SUP/PUD for the entire development, so we have full control of individual issues with the development.

    They've addressed all of the traffic and according to our City Engineer, traffic flow may actually improve in the area because of the increased connectivity. This will provide a relief for a bottlenecked state highway due to an elementary school (why someone puts a school on a major state highway with the playground in front and no soccer mom pick-up area is beyond me). They have negotiated with a neighboring development to realign and dedicate a new road, fixing a past planning mistake of the city. They've also taken care of the safety issues involving the road access onto another major highway. In addition to that, they are including better pedestrian features in the parking lot, sidewalks along the new road and realignment (we don't require sidewalks in our ordinance yet), and bicycle lanes.

    They are donating 10 acres to the library district (not a bribe, previous owner required it with purchase apparently). Which is great for all the kids running around here. The bike lanes and sidewalks will help kids walk there from the nearby elementary school.

    We smacked them around pretty hard on landscaping and they have responded well. We have a sixty-foot conservation buffer around the property that will keep the view from nearby residences intact as well as the views along the residential road so all the NIMBY's can keep their view. They are significantly landscaping throughout the parking lot and along the new road. They are having some trouble mitigating the trees because the property was practically a forest. We might need to relax our stuff a little to let them pay into the tree fund more (we limit to 25%).

    We haven't finished working out the sign details, but I think we can get the rest of that addressed soon.

    Architecture: This thing is going to look pretty sweet as far as pigs go. Assuming it passes, I'll post pics. It will have a unified architecture theme that reflects the area (kind of a country look with lots of native stone). Outside sales seems to be an issue still, but I think we can work that out.

    We have a Dark Sky Ordinance, but we're adding an additional requirement that light levels are reduced to 25% after closing (this thing was low-lit to start with because of the ordinance).


    I personally do not like big box stores. However, I've had to do a little soul-searching on this project. This thing could easily move across the street and out of the city limits where we have no real control and would still suffer most of the negative impacts. We don't really have any local businesses that will be negatively effected. I really cannot complain about the developers on this as they have done practically everything I asked. I'm actually surprised that they stuck with the project after the raping they got at a couple of meetings (we have some of those "absolutely no growth period" folks that are causing me a lot of headaches). They don't understand that there are some things that could go in under the existing zoning that I believe would have a far worse impact and the City would not have the control we do with this project.

    I have managed to maintain my publicly neutral stance on this, explaining that my job was to determine what the issues were and find ways to address them (this thing has turned into a really ugly political firefight that I'm trying to distance myself from).

    We have the public hearing in front of the P&Z Commission tonight. It's the only thing on the agenda, but I still expect it to go 4 hours. I remember back when I had a social life. It sure was nice.

    "Oh, that is all well and good, but, voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same way in any country."

    - Herman Göring at the Nuremburg trials (thoughts on democracy)

  8. #33
    moderator in moderation Suburb Repairman's avatar
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    Here are the results from the Planning and Zoning Commission public hearing. The Commission voted 5-4 to grant a special use permit with conditions as recommended by staff. The meeting took 5 hours and 25 minutes with this being the only issue on the agenda.

    Since this began in July, I have spent about 175 hours agonizing over this project with reports, traffic analysis, noise analysis, etc. I'm just glad they voted on the damn thing instead of tabling. I would have been happy with an approval or denial as long as some kind of action was taken. At least now I know there is a light at the end of the tunnel on this and it will be leaving my desk soon.

    Now, if you will excuse me, I am going go home and get very intoxicated and not come in to work tomorrow.



    I wish I could say my conscience is clear, but it's not. I preach and rail against big box stores, yet I practically endorsed one tonight (SUP criteria were all adequately satisfied per the ordinance). If it didn't locate on this site with the enhanced SUP management tool, it was going to go across the street and outside the City where we have NO real control and we would still get the negative side effects (they had an option on that property as well if this fell through). The only reasons they didn't go there in the first place were that they have a reputation for working well with cities and the other site had some minor flooding issues. The developers accepted nearly every challenge I gave them. This is going to be a nice-looking project with very little negative side effect. Yet, I feel bad because of my concern about the local hardware store that is run by a really nice guy. He is the only business that will be significantly effected (we do not have much in the way of little local stores here and the ones we do have won't be affected by Home Depot, so I didn't have that as an arguement against).

    Here I am at 23, and I think my idealism about planning has been completely shattered. This is practically my hometown (went to high school about 10 miles away), so this was a little personal for me.

    "Oh, that is all well and good, but, voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same way in any country."

    - Herman Göring at the Nuremburg trials (thoughts on democracy)

  9. #34
    Cyburbian SW MI Planner's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Suburb Repairman
    I wish I could say my conscience is clear, but it's not. I preach and rail against big box stores, yet I practically endorsed one tonight (SUP criteria were all adequately satisfied per the ordinance). If it didn't locate on this site with the enhanced SUP management tool, it was going to go across the street and outside the City where we have NO real control and we would still get the negative side effects (they had an option on that property as well if this fell through). The only reasons they didn't go there in the first place were that they have a reputation for working well with cities and the other site had some minor flooding issues. The developers accepted nearly every challenge I gave them. This is going to be a nice-looking project with very little negative side effect. Yet, I feel bad because of my concern about the local hardware store that is run by a really nice guy. He is the only business that will be significantly effected (we do not have much in the way of little local stores here and the ones we do have won't be affected by Home Depot, so I didn't have that as an arguement against).
    Don't beat yourself up too much - you worked your butt off to get a product that everyone (hopefully) will be satisfied with. You said yourself they could have gone in the across the street and it would have ended up a lot worse situation and your city wouldn't have any control. Sometimes you have to weigh the good and bad and be thankful that the outcome wasn't as bad as it could be.

  10. #35
    Cyburbian boiker's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by metroboi View post
    I saw this at christmas and couldn't help but stop and take a photo. This is 1/2 of a Super Walmart. I could not get it all into the shot from that hill.

    This is what you get if you don't negotiate

    http://www.urbancharlotte.com/ptx2/v...art_vomits.jpg
    Location - Anyplace, USA)
    [sarcasm]
    Hey! We've got that! If we negotiated they would've cut-n-run. GOod thing we didnt. [sarcasm]

    Suburb Repairman, I can't get my city to allow me 30 days to review an application before it is scheduled on a commission agenda. It's the ordinance that I can wait 60 days. I get shotdown and told to cram stuff through in a month. Earlier this year, I reviewed and sent through a 100 acre university master plan in about 3 weeks along with 6 other rezoning and special use cases
    Last edited by NHPlanner; 20 Aug 2007 at 11:50 AM. Reason: leeched image replaced with a URL
    Dude, I'm cheesing so hard right now.

  11. #36
    Cyburbian hilldweller's avatar
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    [QUOTE=boiker;397328][sarcasm]
    Hey! We've got that! If we negotiated they would've cut-n-run. GOod thing we didnt. [sarcasm][QUOTE]

    Ah yes, your leaders have the the self-esteem of a $2 hooker. Ours have the self-esteem of a $1 hooker if it makes you feel any better.

    Wally and Co. wiped out a bunch of wetlands and trees. One of the big boxes went in at 85% impervious (as a PUD), a drainage debacle in waiting (we don't have a competant engineer). Staff collected the tree mitigation fee, which doesn't mitigate anything because the City Council spends the money on road-widening (even though the code dictates it can only go towards conservation). The CM bled them a bit for road cash, but not nearly enough so that the tax-payers won't be on the hook for a big chunk of what is needed. And the cherry on top is that the big boxes look like crap (the corporate prototype, that is).

  12. #37
    Cyburbian b3nr's avatar
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    This thread is fascinating.

    I haven't had much contact with large retailers, and obviously, they can't quite get away with stores like the one in the picture above in the UK (nearly though). WalMart just bought the UK's second largest supermarket chain, ASDA. And the way Tesco's (the largest chain)bribes, bullies and bends the rules is pretty legendary. Seems these boys act the same anywhere...

  13. #38
    Cyburbian Jeff's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by landon View post
    Expect the absoulte minimum as required by your regulations
    why would you pen "regulations" if you really wanted a little more?

  14. #39
    Cyburbian boiker's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Jeff View post
    why would you pen "regulations" if you really wanted a little more?
    Excellent Point. The regulations should demand what standards you expect at a minimum. Or. we could just contract zone the whole damn thing
    Dude, I'm cheesing so hard right now.

  15. #40
    Cyburbian jmello's avatar
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    Call the Town of North Kingstown, Rhode Island. The planners there have gotten both Wal*Mart and Home Depot to build relatively attractive stores with plentiful landscaping. The Wal*Mart is barely visible from the roadway due to buffering. The site has sidewalks, a roundabout, park area and room for a planned commuter rail station.

    Edit: Just read the rest of the posts. Sounds like you got a decent product as well. Did the best you could do.

  16. #41
    Cyburbian TexanOkie's avatar
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    Round Rock, TX



    I'm not sure how Round Rock, Texas got this out of Wal-Mart or why Wal-Mart agreed to it, but it's definitely not ordinary...

  17. #42
    Unfrozen Caveman Planner mendelman's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by TexanOkie View post


    I'm not sure how Round Rock, Texas got this out of Wal-Mart or why Wal-Mart agreed to it, but it's definitely not ordinary...
    Yeah, I don't know. I think it is almost worse than a 2-tone box. It's still a giant hulking pre-cast cube with a 300 spaces surface parking lot.

    (insert "lipstick/pig" metaphor here)
    I'm sorry. Is my bias showing?

    The ends can justify the means.

  18. #43
    Cyburbian b3nr's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by mendelman View post
    Yeah, I don't know. I think it is almost worse than a 2-tone box. It's still a giant hulking pre-cast cube with a 300 spaces surface parking lot.

    (insert "lipstick/pig" metaphor here)
    Agreed, the fact that it vaguely and some what half heatedly attempts to façade the very thing it helps to destroy (a mixed walkable retail area) hardly makes it a reason for celebration. Also, I'm guessing its just this side? One side facing a car park, a brick thick? Perhaps two? With the shed behind.

    Ah well, tis the way of the world.

  19. #44
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    I agree with Boiker

    The most recent WalMart I have worked on seemed to be a magnet for used cars dumped for sale in the parking lot, banners flying from the trees, cardboard signs tacked to the trees and so on. Code Enforcement was literally a daily thing.

    However those trees were part of a well defined on sight circulation pattern and entrance road (stacking space) configuration. All islands were fully landscaped. Through enforcement of the Florida class #1 or Florida Fancy quality landscape standards the manager unltimately paid gardeners to prune, shape and horticulturally manicure the place. Standard big box, good site work, lots of inspection diligence.

  20. #45
    Cyburbian TexanOkie's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by b3nr View post
    Agreed, the fact that it vaguely and some what half heatedly attempts to façade the very thing it helps to destroy (a mixed walkable retail area) hardly makes it a reason for celebration. Also, I'm guessing its just this side? One side facing a car park, a brick thick? Perhaps two? With the shed behind.

    Ah well, tis the way of the world.
    As far as I know, the building has a similar facade on three sides. Yes it has a giant parking lot in front. However, Round Rock is a little more on the conservative side, and I doubt were trying to implement any walkable, mixed-use design (and this particular site was agrarian prior to construction). My point in posting this was to show that Wal-Mart is often willing to work with cities provided they don't put up a fight. If they put up a fight, they'll just push through the normal box store.

    A good example: Wal-Mart is putting in a supercenter off of Anderson and Burnet Roads in Austin, near MoPac. Wal-Mart actually went to the city and expressed it's desire to maintain the funky character of the Austin and Austin's push for mixed-use developments, and worked with the planning staff for several months coming up with a design that was two-story store with private lease-able offices along the front and structured parking underneath and behind the store. When civic and neighborhood groups began protesting and lobbying city council, the elected body caved and stopped working with Wal-Mart to come up with a mutually-agreeable design. After several more months, Wal-Mart became increasingly frustrated and wound up pushing through their normal box format with huge parking lot at the same location. Austin therefore lost something that could have set a highly successful precedent. Similar stories can be found in north Dallas (near Love Field) and Irving, Texas, and I'm sure elsewhere.

  21. #46
    Cyburbian ludes98's avatar
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    More like 900 spaces in front. Retailers like to park at 1/200. Bentonville will agree to architectural upgrades if the return will be good for them. Home Depot and Target won't though in my limited experience with them.

  22. #47
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    Orlando Wal-Mart

    Wal-Mart recently added a store on I-4 by Sea World (I know, bleh)... however the design of the store is not too bad. I can't recall how many tree's were saved or planted, but the store facade isn't too bad... better than most.

  23. #48

    do you want them?

    My question is, does your community actually want them in town? If not, I can make a recommendation as to how to keep them out. Contact the City of Turlock, CA Community Development Department and ask them about their anti big box ordinance, inspired by a well publicized, rather unpleasant fight with Wal-Mart in the past 2 years. There is currently a very old, very ugly Wal-Mart in that town, and I can assure you, there will be no bigger, better store coming anytime soon. Here's Turlock's contact info:

    City of Turlock
    Community Development Department
    156 S. Broadway, Suite 120
    Turlock, CA 95381
    (209) 668-5640
    planning@turlock.ca.us
    http://www.ci.turlock.ca.us/citydepa...unityplanning/

  24. #49
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    Is it really any better?

    I agree with those who don't feel like a nicer facade is much of a victory for the city. Its still Walmart and it still is an unwalkable monstrosity that hurts the urban fabric.

    I would much rather have Walmart make some other contributions to the city (monetary, parks, maybe something more creative) than fight for aesthetic materials. Or if you are going to fight, fight to work the complex into the neighborhood so that its more walkable and human scale. This may be an impossible task. For example would Walmart consider having parking on the side, with one side fronting the street? A separate entrance? This would be a concrete civic improvement.

  25. #50
    Cyburbian vagaplanner's avatar
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    When I worked for a small city in Kansas, Wal-Mart used what is referred to as a "micro-forest" landscaping concept, which consists of using larger landscape islands, as opposed to say, one island for every ten parking spaces. It worked out nicely and still looks great! They used a lot of transplanted trees, instead of the two-inch twigs that usually die. In terms of landscaping, I would put that Wal-Mart against any other that I've ever seen. I would highly recommend this method of landscaping.

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