Housing Complex

Ward 5 to Get the Nation’s First Mixed-Use Wal-Mart?

Can Wal-Mart build different?

Can Wal-Mart build different?

On Monday, the news broke that the land on far New York Avenue Northeast once slated for a mixed-use development was now expected to get a Wal-Mart. Listserv chatter since then has been conflicted: Does D.C. really want to host the biggest and boxiest of the U.S.' bix box stores?

Last night, though, Ward 5 Councilmember Harry Thomas offered hope for something different.

"Everything I have heard, there are other pieces to that puzzle, because it couldn’t just be a Wal-Mart," Thomas told Housing Complex after one of his town hall meetings. "You’re talking about one big box store on that corner. I don’t think that would fit the needs of the residents. ...Whatever it is, I don’t think it’s going to be a traditional Wal-Mart. No one has signed a deal. What I think you have is Wal-Mart being a potential anchor for Wal Mart as a mixed-use development there."

Thomas also mentioned that there are other contenders for the space, naming Lowe's as a store that could potentially be interested in coming to the District. But the most critical thing, he admitted, is cash.

"What really matters for us is, who has liquid assets," Thomas said. "Because what happens is, you gotta be able to pay for it. That’s what happened with Abdo. We were right at the critical point, and couldn’t get the right mix of city dollars and private dollars."

P.S. - I'm writing about the labor/small business/neighborhood implications of Wal-Mart this week, so if you have any particular knowledge or insight, please get in touch: ldepillis@washingtoncitypaper.com.

Photo via flickr user sebypires.

  • http://distcurm.blogspot.com/ IMGoph

    please, please, please, let the city leadership stay on top of this. if it's built as part of a proper urban-infill mixed use development, i think just about everyone can be happy with this.

  • copper

    wow. + 1 for thomas. i feel blindsided by his statement.

  • http://rickmangus@aol.com Rick Mangus

    'IMGoph', it is my hope that the city leadership will stay FAR AWAY from this problem, because every time they get involved it get screwed up or dropped by the company!

  • nkh

    If DC can figure out a way to keep a new WalMart from busting unions, paying below a living wage, keeping workers at part time to avoid providing benefits, and further clogging our streets with traffic, and protect its existing small business community, then yeah, maybe everyone could be happy with it. If they can't though, I suspect that folks who think good jobs and safe streets are more important than convenience (we currently survive without) are going to do whatever it takes to keep this from moving....

  • http://rickmangus@aol.com Rick Mangus

    'nkh', I keep hearing this crap about the, "Small Business Community", oh! you must mean ALL those small businesses that have price gouged this city for years selling outdated and substandard products!

  • Sally

    Does anyone really think Thomas has been involved in these discussions with Walmart? Who's he trying to kid?

  • http://rickmangus@aol.com Rick Mangus

    'Sally' it's an election year, these crooks, oops! I meant to say, politicians attach themselves to any and all projects like nasty lent to a wool sweater!

  • DC Johon

    Just two thoughts...Walmart's hiring practices etc are certainly worth a healthy discussion. Second thought...Mr Thomas says Walmart does not meet the needs of the residents...I really have to ask ....WHAT RESIDENTS?? Noone lives in that godforsaken area of New York and Montana Avenues!

  • http://distcurm.blogspot.com/ IMGoph

    dc johon: there are residents nearby. the neighborhoods of arboretum, south central, ivy city, and langdon are within a couple blocks.

  • Jen

    Walmart is ghetto, always has been, always will be. It's no Target, and those trying to spin this as such as playing you. Walmart should stay in Alabama where they belong.

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