• Ongoing coronavirus / COVID-19 discussion: how is the pandemic affecting your community, workplace, and wellness? 🦠

    Working from home? So are we. Come join us! Cyburbia is a friendly big tent, where we share our experiences and thoughts about urban planning practice, planning adjacent topics, and whatever else comes to mind. No ads, no spam, no social distancing.

can we have a "Smart Growth" Wal-Mart

michaelskis

Cyburbian
Messages
20,154
Points
51
OK you can stop laughing now…


Can Wal-Mart be good for the community and fit into a smart growth policy? I found out that Wal-Mart is coming to our city, and is going to be less than a mile from another big box retailer. But with all this slamming of Wal-Mart, is there a way to make it work from a planner’s point of view and what is good for the future of the community? What regs can be put into place to modify the way that Wal-Mart builds? Can a Wal-Mart become an anchor for a “Lifestyle Center” or are they just the root of all evil?
 

NHPlanner

A shadow of my former self
Staff member
Moderator
Messages
9,945
Points
40
The closest to a "smart growth" Walmart I've seen is in Rutland, VT. Located downtown, in a retrofitted former K-Mart I believe. Also surrounded by several smaller retail and service businesses (it's in an old shopping plaza near downtown Rutland) Don't really think this helps you in your question though....but at least provides an example of where an infill Walmart was done.
 
Messages
5,352
Points
31
Wal-Mart does have "Neighborhood Markets." They average about 40,000 sq. ft. and contain both groceries and soft goods like apparel and such. This is about as "smart growth" as Wal-Mart will ever be.
 

SGB

Cyburbian
Messages
3,388
Points
26
Planderella said:
Wal-Mart does have "Neighborhood Markets." They average about 40,000 sq. ft. and contain both groceries and soft goods like apparel and such. This is about as "smart growth" as Wal-Mart will ever be.
Having never seen one of these, I have to ask: what is "smart growth" about it? Do they do these as infill projects in existing development centers? Pedestrian-oriented locations? As part of a mixed use multi-story building?

Seriously......
 

Gedunker

Moderating
Staff member
Moderator
Messages
11,482
Points
41
They did remediate a badly-contaminated brownfield here, and it is well within the corporate limits (but not inner-city), has pedestrian and transit access, as well.

Still, it's Wal*Mart :-#
 

Tranplanner

maudit anglais
Messages
7,915
Points
36
Don't focus on it as a Wal Mart per se - your real question should be "can we have "Smart Growth" big-box retail uses".
 

ludes98

Cyburbian
Messages
1,264
Points
22
Not sure that big box can be smart growth. I think the basic problem is big boxes are a regional use that gets shoved into neighborhoods. Of course that is where they would like to be, but 230,000SF just doesn't go well in neighborhoods. Mitigation.....

Best methods:
Neighborhood/Community involvement!!
Separation from single family residential.
Loads of landscape in parking area and around the store to block that box.
Scaled to surrounding development, like smaller boxes around them if it is part of center.
Truck restrictions. Times and routes.
Improvements to surrounding infrastructure.
Careful design review.

I think we may see a big box mixed use project in my neighborhood soon, but probably not by WM as they like to be by themselves.
 

michaelskis

Cyburbian
Messages
20,154
Points
51
Tranplanner said:
Don't focus on it as a Wal Mart per se - your real question should be "can we have "Smart Growth" big-box retail uses".
I guess not wal-mart, but I will ask the question... Can big box be smart growth???
 

inzane

Cyburbian
Messages
31
Points
2
wallmart Neighborhood Markets

there have been 2 wallmart Neighborhood Markets or as we like to cal the "Smallmarts" that have been built in an infill type setting in suburban Kansas city. From our experiance with them it seems that this is the market that they would like to reach with this type of store........But then again it is wallmart!!
 

mendelman

Unfrozen Caveman Planner
Staff member
Moderator
Messages
13,887
Points
56
Best example I know of is a zero-lot-line Home Depot in Chicago, Lincoln park neighborhood.

It is 2-story with a parking garage on the roof.

It's located about 2300 N. Halsted.

I'll get some pics sometime this week.
 

gkmo62u

Cyburbian
Messages
1,046
Points
24
Of course it can, particularly if the definition used relates to directing development to places where infrastructure already exists.
 

SlaveToTheGrind

Cyburbian
Messages
1,437
Points
27
Neighborhood Market? Yeah right, with the bland architecture and sea of ashphalt in front of the building.
 

ludes98

Cyburbian
Messages
1,264
Points
22
SlaveToTheGrind said:
Yeah right, with the bland architecture and sea of ashphalt in front of the building.
Developers will seek the lowest cost product for maximum return. Don't expect a pretty box with no regs. The architecture can be controlled by design guidelines and a design review board. Parking lots are a fact of life in the auto dependent world. You simply cannot have retail in most suburban settings without large parking areas. Whether it incorporates pedestrian features, shade structures, and landscape will again be left to design guidelines and regulations.
 

Bangorian

Member
Messages
198
Points
7
It will still send 80% of every dollar to Bentonville, Arkansas, support no local suppliers, and not provide benefits or a living wage to its employees (your residents)

All of which is NOT good for you local economy, which is not good for your downtown, which will perpetuate sprawl, which is NOT SmartGrowth.
 

Suburb Repairman

moderator in moderation
Staff member
Moderator
Messages
7,413
Points
33
This comes from a presentation at Texas APA about anti-monotony codes...

At the conference, Walmart and other big boxes were a topic of much debate. One of the presenters showed a design where a Walmart was designed to become part of the town center design. Basically, the infrastructure was laid out in such a way so that the parking lot could be cut up into streets later on. Also, the building did not follow the "corporate architecture" as it was designed to convert to office space when Walmart decides to relocate 1/4 mile down the road. Between the parking lot and the road was a string of store fronts that were designed to look like an old downtown with storefronts facing directly onto the sidewalk. The Walmart had three entrances, one on each side of the building (it took up about a city block). The only signage was on the side of the building and three relatively modest monument signs. I think the city was able to do it because they required a SUP for commercial buildings over a certain square footage.

The only true smart growth characteristic it had was that the building was designed for reuse so you don't end up with an empty big box shell. I'll see if I can find my presentation notes to get the name of the city. By the way, I am not suporting Walmart and agree with most of the people above about the negative impact Walmarts usually have on a community.
 

Zoning Goddess

Cyburbian
Messages
13,852
Points
39
We have 2 Wal-Mart neighborhood markets in Seminole County, FL. (Chime in Trail Nazi, you were here then, too!). They look like large convenience stores, and both were built in new commercial developments. No infill about them at all.
 

H

Cyburbian
Messages
2,850
Points
24
Zoning Goddess said:
We have 2 Wal-Mart neighborhood markets in Seminole County, FL..... snip .... They look like large convenience stores, and both were built in new commercial developments. No infill about them at all.
Yes, here is the on Alafaya around the corner from my brother’s place.

1281WalGrocCC.jpg

I see nothing smart about it. If anything that it is in what appears to be the definition of sprawl. But there is a University there, so it was bound to happen.

~~~~~

As far as big box and smart growth, sure. I know Atlanta and Miami have multi-story big box buildings built on a parking garage. They take up very little land and are built were a big box would most likely be anyway, so it is smarter than just one big box, I guess.

The one in Miami has a Target, Best Buy, Michael’s, Bed Bath and Beyond, Sports Authority and a few small places like saloons and restaurants. Oh yeah, there is even a rail stop there.
 

gkmo62u

Cyburbian
Messages
1,046
Points
24
As usual I think I am missing the point. Are you guys saying Wal mart et al cannot be smart growth simply because they are not 2 stories or because they are too big?

I think since everybody has their own definition (read: agenda, me included) of smart growth it is impossible to make headway on this here.

Its no secret that Cyburbia hates big box (huge generalization I know).

I always thought smart growth was about WHERE we locate uses. Not about the uses themselves?

I am not really trying to be contrarian here but I think we are making an interesting distinction that suggests that any big user, retailer etc...cannot be smart growth.

Aside...

I have never seen the Wal Mart market before, thanks for the pictures. Would it kill them to put some planter beds against the building? Wherever town that is, they should change the code to required foundation planting.
 

michaelskis

Cyburbian
Messages
20,154
Points
51
One of the planners in our office said that our Wally Mart would be one of the nicest in the chain, have loads of trees, and make most other big boxes look sad.

Then I saw the plot plan. Has some trees, but I was not impressed. It would be nice to see them get a little creative with each building, and make it so it is something to see, as well as a place to shop. (I know, get back into reality... it will never happen)
 

NHPlanner

A shadow of my former self
Staff member
Moderator
Messages
9,945
Points
40
michaelskis said:
One of the planners in our office said that our Wally Mart would be one of the nicest in the chain, have loads of trees, and make most other big boxes look sad.

Then I saw the plot plan. Has some trees, but I was not impressed. It would be nice to see them get a little creative with each building, and make it so it is something to see, as well as a place to shop. (I know, get back into reality... it will never happen)
Design Guidelines Design Guidelines Design Guidelines. You can make the best of a box.....but you have to stand your ground, and have the guidelines implemented to back it up. I'll dig back through some threads from the past later today, I know there are links to sample guidelines around here somewhere.....
 

donk

Cyburbian
Messages
6,970
Points
30
Seabishop said:
We're selling them land and getting a Supercenter - oh, boy!
I "see" that, and raise you an expropriation, a road and services being provided, the rerouting/piping of a stream and the infilling of a wetland.

The scary thing is that in this situtation it is smart growth as it opens up good land for development and intensifies development. If only I as a tax payer was not having to foot the bill. (all three levels of government involved)
 

H

Cyburbian
Messages
2,850
Points
24
gkmo62u said:
Are you guys saying Wal mart et al cannot be smart growth simply because they are not 2 stories or because they are too big?
Not necessarily, just that 2 or more story (density) with a garage below is 'smarter' than one story with a huge parking lot out front.


I think since everybody has their own definition (read: agenda, me included) of smart growth it is impossible to make headway on this here.
True. The term has become very loose.

Here are the principles from smartgrowth.org, but even these are subject to interpretation.

http://www.smartgrowth.org/about/principles/default.asp
 

Cardinal

Cyburbian
Messages
10,080
Points
34
Suburban made the point that I think I would echo. Any big box can be designed in an aesthetically appealing, pedestrian-friendly, and environmentally sensitive manner. Add to this that the location can also contribute to a smart growth approach. This does not necessarily mean a downtown location, if the peripheral location can generate retail traffic for core districts.
 

Seabishop

Cyburbian
Messages
3,838
Points
25
Cardinal said:
. . . Add to this that the location can also contribute to a smart growth approach. This does not necessarily mean a downtown location, if the peripheral location can generate retail traffic for core districts.
Yeah, it depends on the level you're looking at. Our small city is getting Super Walmart in an existing strip commercial part of town. On one level its not downtown and could hurt neighborhood businesses (this damage has already been done 100 times over) on more regional level they are locating in one of the state's urban areas and not out on a greenfield in some ex-urban town that can't handle the growth.
 

MitchBaby

Cyburbian
Messages
198
Points
7
michaelskis said:
I guess not wal-mart, but I will ask the question... Can big box be smart growth???
As a local example here in Vancouver - CostCo is developing a downtown location where the costco is on the bottom of a 4 tower residential development (total about 900 units).

Apparently this is the first time CostCo has done something like this. The lot is an underutilized parking lot right along False Creek in Vancouver (near Yaletown), is adjacent to mass transit, and will be pedestrian oriented with a number of features such as the opportunity to rent carts so that pedestrians can take stuff to and from there homes...

Its an interesting project.

Any thoughts?
 

Bangorian

Member
Messages
198
Points
7
I remember seeing a rather large K-Mart outlet going into somewhere in Manhattan, and a Home Depot was moving into Chelsea recently. Both, I believe were put in as multi-floor stores. No need for parking in Manhattan!
 

ludes98

Cyburbian
Messages
1,264
Points
22
I do a alot of work for one of the "boxes" so I have been through the routine with the client and the City numerous times.

I will reiterate my previous post, and NHP followed it up with the same.

Design Guidelines. You WILL NOT get the architectural, landscape, and pedestrian features you want unless you have guidelines for them. These users will not give you pretty features if they can get approved with less.

You know you run into this with developers, but you feel like a multibillion dollar company should give you more in your community. Will not happen without guidelines, pressure from staff, and pressure from elected/appointed officials.
 

brandonmason

Cyburbian
Messages
140
Points
6
MaineMan said:
It will still send 80% of every dollar to Bentonville, Arkansas, support no local suppliers, and not provide benefits or a living wage to its employees (your residents)

All of which is NOT good for you local economy, which is not good for your downtown, which will perpetuate sprawl, which is NOT SmartGrowth.
Not to be a Wal-Mart apologizer or anything, but this is *too* harsh of a picture....

All retailers have relatively low wages and unimpressive benefits, Wal-Mart is no exception. BUT the wages and benefits Wal-Mart provides beat out those of other retailers in most communities.

The profits don't all go to Bentonville -- it's a public corporation and the profits go to shareholders everywhere.

It gives back to the community (Wal-Mart is the largest corporate cash giver and most of this cash is distributed through community grants at the local level).

It generally is good for the local economy because it encourages competition and raises the standard of living. When Wal-Mart begins selling groceries in a market, the average cost of groceries in that community goes ****down 13 percent.**** Retailers that can't keep up might close down, but this isn't especially pervasive (most small retailers have a solid niche market).

It will perpetuate sprawl and you will have a difficult time getting them to do anything about that.
 

jresta

Cyburbian
Messages
1,474
Points
23
We have a K-Mart that serves as an anchor to a fairly large indoor mall. It's actually 1 million sq. ft. of indoor retail. There's even a Staples across the street from it. The whole complex sits (literally) on top of one of the busiest train stations in the city. You don't even have to go outside when you get off the train. It doesn't get much "smarter" than that in terms of transportation.

from their website -
"Mass Transit Information:
Direct indoor access to the Market-Frankford El, Broad-Ridge Spur and all commuter rail lines to Philadelphia suburbs and the Philadelphia airport. Rail connection to Suburban Station, 30th Street Station and all Amtrak destinations. PATCO high-speed line to New Jersey and 2 attached parking garages. Exterior access to major SEPTA bus lines, NJ Transit and Philadelphia taxi service."

The aesthetics, the outside of the building that is, have been derided since the mall was built about 30 years ago. Essentially it's a typical suburban mall, but 4 floors rather than two, plopped down in the middle of the city. It's more or less a vaccum, sucking all activity inside of it.

That said, i think big box retailing is just the logical extension of our unsustainable patterns of production, consumption, and our economy in general. There's not much "smart" about that.
 

jresta

Cyburbian
Messages
1,474
Points
23
brandonmason said:
Not to be a Wal-Mart apologizer or anything, but this is *too* harsh of a picture....

All retailers have relatively low wages and unimpressive benefits, Wal-Mart is no exception. BUT the wages and benefits Wal-Mart provides beat out those of other retailers in most communities.

The profits don't all go to Bentonville -- it's a public corporation and the profits go to shareholders everywhere.
I think Target, for example, offers better everything in the wages/compensation department when compared to Wal-Mart.

But the point is that if a Wal-Mart takes in $10k a day from a particular community that $8,000 of it is transferred nightly to HQ in Bentonville. It leaves the local economy immediately. I don't know what kind of money you have but Wal-Mart stock is trading today at $52.70 a share. Last year's dividends were $.28 per share. If you're an average Joe with 100 shares you made a whopping $28 - that's not even enough to buy another share.

Let's get real, the overwhelming majority of shares are owned by the walton family, the board, and other executives in the company. The rest are held by mutual and pension funds so I wouldn't exactly call the whole thing "public."

*** please see bottom



It gives back to the community (Wal-Mart is the largest corporate cash giver and most of this cash is distributed through community grants at the local level).
OK, so they give out a lot of grants. How much of it is tax-deductible? How much of it makes up for the local tax-breaks and land deals they receive? How much of it offsets the money they bilk from their vendors? In short, what positive effect of their gift-giving makes up for the negative impacts of their existence and how does this effect Wal-Mart's bottom line?


It generally is good for the local economy because it encourages competition and raises the standard of living. When Wal-Mart begins selling groceries in a market, the average cost of groceries in that community goes ****down 13 percent.**** Retailers that can't keep up might close down, but this isn't especially pervasive (most small retailers have a solid niche market)
Wal-Mart may, *may* lower the cost of groceries but it doesn't do much good when a Wal-Mart results in making other workers redundant or lowers the median wage - or worse, becomes the only employer in town. Wal-Mart isn't much different than Standard Oil in that regard. It remains successful by throwing its weight around. It can get a premium on groceries (or anything for that matter) because it is large enough to set the price. Being large enough to set a market price is breaking the first rule of a free market.
Vendors can choose to sell to Wal-Mart competitors at a higher price but nor for long because those competitors have no choice but to lower their prices as well. In effect, the price that Wal-Mart demands becomes the industry standard. It's a race to the bottom, plain and simple.


****
this just underscores the popular misunderstanding that people buy shares in a company for the dividends they get. In order to make $40,000 a year on Wal-Mart stock dividends you would need to own 145,000 shares that would cost you $7.6 million to buy. Opening a restaurant in Center City would net you much more and cost you much less.

No investor expects to make stable money on dividends. The cash comes in from the sale of the stock - which is why the pressure is always to drive the share price higher by making the stock more attractive. This is what quarterly earnings reports are for. It's also why, if you've been paying attention, so many executives have been going to jail because they made it look like the company was earning more than it was, which drove the stock price higher, which triggered a flurry of investment - SPECULATION - and at the peak of speculation all the people in the know sold all or most of their stock and made a killing.

The people who make big money on stock trading are those that get in at the IPO, aka, insiders. If you're not an insider you're stuck buying the stock after the price has already risen. If you have the money to buy 1000 shares at $30 a share and you sell them ten years later for $40 a share, well then you've made a sweet $10,000 but really it's peanuts in the grand scheme of Wall St. But it's still good for investing your money in a non-productive enterprise. I mean Wall St. doesn't actually produce anything so $10k was created out of . . . what exactly?

If you're not buying at the IPO or subsequent stock issues you're not investing in the company. The cash you give at the IPO or later stock issues is the capital that goes to the company.

When you buy a share on E-trade and sell it later at a higher price the cash goes to you, not to the company the stock represents. The person buying the stock from you is only buying it because he expects its value to continue to climb so he can sell it for a profit as well. In all the whole thing is a ponzi scheme cloaked, not very well, in some free-market rhetoric.
 
Last edited:
Messages
5,352
Points
31
Mod Warning: Please don't hijack this thread into yet ANOTHER Pro/Anti Wal-Mart thread. PLEASE STAY ON TOPIC!!!!! Thanks! :)
 

SGB

Cyburbian
Messages
3,388
Points
26
Three design recommendations

Note: link below is to a PDF document

From page 16 of Getting to Smart Growth II: 100 More Policies for Implimentation:
  • Prohibit blank walls: Allow no uninterupted length of any facade in excess of 100 horizontal feet. If a facade is greater than 100 feet in length, it must incorporate recesses and projections along at least 20 percent of the lenght of the facade. Windows, awnings and arcades must total at least 60 percent of the facade length abutting a public street.
  • All facades of a building that are visible from adjoining properties or public streest should contribute to the pleasing scale features of the building and encourage community integration by featuring characteristics similar to a front facade.
  • Do not locate more than 50% of the off-street parking area between the front facade of the building and the primary abutting street.
 
Last edited:

Rem

Cyburbian
Messages
1,523
Points
23
Michaelskis we have some street activation and design controls that may be of interest. This link will get you to them. Go to section 3.3 Urban Centre Development.
 

Cirrus

Cyburbian
Messages
303
Points
11
Never seen a WalMart do it, but Target has been willing to conform.

This is in Gaithersburg, MD:
 

Quail64

Cyburbian
Messages
55
Points
4
This is Daiei, a store more like like Fred Meyer than Wal-Mart, but similar I suppose. This is in Nishinomiya, which is dense to be sure, but nowhere near a downtown-like density. There is parking on the upper levels, and it is accessible by pedestrians, close to mass transit, and has bicycle racks. There may not be all those beautiful trees Wal-Mart likes to put in their seas of asphault, but it works well with the neighborhood. I call that smart growth.

 

Chet

Cyburbian Emeritus
Messages
10,623
Points
34
This thread immediately came to mind today in a meeting at work and I had to rush home to post! You can scream "GEEK!" now.

I'm going to be involved in a Walmart-meets-TND application (I'm the TND). The City is making them apply certain principles. We'll see how it goes. This will definitely be a gallery item in 2004-2005.
 

michaelskis

Cyburbian
Messages
20,154
Points
51
Once the thing gets built, I will take a few pictures. As it is, I just got off the phone with the architect. They are requesting 680 sqft of Wall Signage, when we told them no more that 350 sqft. Now the ZBA gets their first crack at them. YEA!!!
 

boiker

Cyburbian
Messages
3,889
Points
26
zba and other

hopefully, your ZBA can stick to their guns, require the code be met or prove the "hardship"

although making big boxes smart may be hard, it should not be difficult to convince wal-mart to make significnat site upgrades. After all, didn't they request a sales tax reduction, or property tax relief?

Give a little, take a little.
 

NHPlanner

A shadow of my former self
Staff member
Moderator
Messages
9,945
Points
40
Re: zba and other

boiker said:
After all, didn't they request a sales tax reduction, or property tax relief?
This is one of the reasons I love working in NH.....WE CANNOT GIVE ANY TAX BREAKS. :) You want to locate here, you're gonna pay all the taxes.....the only time this is different is if a community has set up a TIF district, and the tax revenue goes toward paying off the infrastructure bonds....but those are few and far between.....98% of development here pays for all infrastructure, improvements, and all taxes.
 

Cardinal

Cyburbian
Messages
10,080
Points
34
Re: Re: zba and other

NHPlanner said:
This is one of the reasons I love working in NH.....WE CANNOT GIVE ANY TAX BREAKS. :) You want to locate here, you're gonna pay all the taxes.....the only time this is different is if a community has set up a TIF district, and the tax revenue goes toward paying off the infrastructure bonds....but those are few and far between.....98% of development here pays for all infrastructure, improvements, and all taxes.
The same is true in Wisconsin. Washington State goes too far - it does not even permit TIFs.
 
Top