Wal­mart floats ‘Town Cen­ter’ re­tail con­cept

The Citizens' Voice - - BUSINESS - BY BEN­JAMIN RO­MANO THE SEAT­TLE TIMES

Big-box re­tail gi­ant Wal­mart, long de­spised by Main Street small busi­nesses for lur­ing their cus­tomers to the su­per­store on the edge of town, is now at­tempt­ing to bring town-cen­ter ameni­ties to its sprawl­ing park­ing lots in two Wash­ing­ton lo­ca­tions and else­where.

On a web­site devoted to its “Town Cen­ter” re­tail con­cept, Wal­mart lists four projects un­der­way, in­clud­ing at stores in in the Wash­ing­ton cities of Shel­ton and Tumwa­ter, and oth­ers in Texas and Colorado.

Wal­mart real-es­tate ex­ec­u­tive L.B. Johnson un­veiled the con­cept at a shop­ping­cen­ter in­dus­try con­fer­ence in Oc­to­ber.

“We want to pro­vide com­mu­nity space — ar­eas for the com­mu­nity to dwell,” he said. “We want to pro­vide pedes­trian con­nec­tiv­ity from our box to the ex­pe­ri­en­tial zones that are planned on our foot­print.”

Com­mu­nity-de­vel­op­ment of­fi­cials in Shel­ton and Tumwa­ter said the com­pany has had pre­lim­i­nary meet­ings with city plan­ners but has not yet taken steps to ob­tain per­mits to re­de­velop the ex­pan­sive park­ing lots sur­round­ing its stores. The Ben­tonville, Arkansas-based re­tailer did not re­spond to a re­quest for com­ment.

On its web­site, Wal­mart de­picts a mix of ameni­ties it may add around its stores, in­clud­ing din­ing, fit­ness and sports ac­tiv­i­ties (a golf driv­ing range and skate park are pic­tured), ser­vices, trans­porta­tion and cu­rated re­tail — all things de­signed to make Wal­mart stores into “des­ti­na­tions.”

DREAMSTIME

Wal­mart is at­tempt­ing to bring town-cen­ter ameni­ties to a few lo­ca­tions.

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