Back in June, I broke news of Selig Enterprises's planned re-development of of Suburban Plaza with among other things, the addition of a Walmart. At the time, my post received a great deal of attention, and as a result, other media doubted its accuracy, leading representatives from both Selig and Walmart to refute my claims. This week has brought a 360 of sorts, as representatives from both companies met with area residents to discuss their plans for the re-development, including... the addition of a Walmart Supercenter.
Among other things discussed at the meeting were other potentially interested retailers including electronics retailer hhgregg, sporting goods retailer Dick's, home furnishings retailer HomeGoods and craft store Michael's. Additionally, LA Fitness is said to be "extremely interested" in being part of the project. In my earlier post, I mentioned the old Pizza Hut that is currently Cozy Burger Town. This space is scheduled to change hands and be re-concepted in conjunction with the redevelopment.
Oddly, though not mentioned by anyone from Selig, sources tell me Petsmart will take over at least a portion of the former Winn-Dixie / Save Rite store. Perhaps this was deliberately not mentioned to avoid criticism about adding another pet store so close to the existing Pet Supermarket in a nearby shopping center.
With a Facebook fan page dedicated to it, and seemingly countless avid fans of the company, many hearts were surely crushed with the revelation that Trader Joe's has no interest in being a part of the project. Apparently Selig contacted Trader Joe's and was told to "take a hike." Also, it was mentioned that Trader Joe's is not doing well locally and that may be the cause for them showing no interest. Personally, I don't shop there a ton, but it seems like many friends of mine have pantries that seem to be stocked with 90% TJ's merchandise any day of the week.
Big Lots, an existing retailer in Suburban Plaza, is said to be staying "temporarily," perhaps waiting to see how the Walmart will affect their business. I certainly hope they stay, as I already lost one intown Big Lots when Lindbergh Plaza was redeveloped in 2005. There is still, however, a Big Lots on Chamblee Tucker Road in a portion of a vacated Kroger store.
As far as the planned Walmart goes, stories, sketches and rumors continue to spread as to what exactly the store will look like and how big it will end up being. At one point, there was talk of the store being a relatively small 30-40,000 sq' "Neighborhood Market," with 90+% of the store dedicated to grocery items. Now, talk is that the store will be 147,000 sq' Walmart, with 40,000 sq' dedicated to grocery. Contrary to what I had previously been told, Piccadilly Cafeteria to the right, across the parking lot, through to the Last Chance Thrift Store and neighboring former Eckerd will all be torn town to make way for the Walmart. At one point, there was talk that Walmart would only take the Eckerd / Pep Boys spaces ( for the smaller "Neighborhood Market") but that seems not to be the case.
An underground parking structure that will reportedly cost nearly $10 million is being financed exclusively by Walmart. The hiccup here being Selig, on behalf of Walmart, is seeking a variance that would allow a parking ratio of 3.5 per 1,000 opposed to the stated code of 5.5 per 1,000. Also, as of now, the store will be open 24 hours, something I, like many, take issue with, especially with the underground parking deck.
What this does mean, is that the local bowling alley would stay put, at least for now, but that the longstanding Suburban Custom Awards & Framing would be displaced. Family Dollar, another current retailer in Suburban Plaza, may depart when the Walmart opens, and its space could potentially be used to satisfy the needs of the trophy shop, should they wish to stay.
Though it's a little far away, I feel the need to mention how awful the former Cub Foods looks in the shopping center near North DeKalb Mall. Half of the shell remains, with the other half looking like it was blown away, perhaps for a renovation that never materialized. A free standing Mrs. Winner's is also vacant and in need of some TLC. Anyone have any idea what the heck is going on with the center or have any ideas for redevelopment?
As a nearby resident, I have my reservations about the traffic and noise, and potentially the crime associated with a Walmart, but what do you think? Is a Walmart a good neighbor for Decatur?
Please share your thoughts in the comment section below.