Wednesday, April 5, 2006

Wal-Mart says no to Suisun City location

From Daily Republic // April 5, 2006

Retailer pulls out of talks for supercenter
By Nathan Halverson

FAIRFIELD - In a surprise announcement, Wal-Mart pulled out of talks to build a supercenter in Suisun City.

City officials and developers working on the project, known as the Gentry project, said Wal-Mart gave no indication why it walked away from the deal.

The Gentry project was to include 721,000 square feet of retail space with Wal-Mart as the anchor, or main attraction. The project would be built on the south side of Highway 12 wher Pennsylvania Avenue and the highway meet.

Wal-Mart, which never committed to the project, didn't return calls for this story.

The city announced Wal-Mart would not be part of the development in a press release touting the completion of its enviromental impact report for the Gentry project.

The project developer, Tom Gentry California, is turning to other large retail stores such as Lowe's or Kohl's to fill the gap.

"You know, all the usual suspects. But we're not prepared to name any names," said Joe Fadrowsky, project manager for Tom Gentry California. "We've got other big box prospects."

Yet Wal-Mart's giant approach to retailing is not easily replaced.

"It's sort of a blow because Wal-Mart is a large store with a lot of square feet," said Ben Hulse, project coordinator for Suisun City. "The revenue potential was higher than it probably will be now. The sales tax production will be less."

A Wal-Mart Supercenter usually generates about $1 million in tax revenue, according to the company. City officials had hoped to tap into that.

Suisun City suffers from a lack of tax revenue. Residetns are spending their money in other cities.

The Gentry project is being pushed as the answer to the city's budget woes.

"From the city's perspective, this project is critical for the future," Hulse said. "It ensures the city can provide basic public services such as police and fire services."

The Fairfield city mayor, Harry Price, was dismayed by the news.

"That's terrible," Price said. "Suisun City needs to build up its sales tax revenue the same as any other city."

Fairfield has also been courting a Wal-Mart and recently released its economic impact report, which included an economic analysis. The report stated if Wal-Marts were built in both Suisun City and Fairfield that small businesses and other large retailers would likely be driven out of business.

Fairfield is still moving forward with its Wal-Mart project.

Gary Dyas, chairman of the Fairfield Downtown Association, said he was relieved by the news the Suisun City would not be getting a Wal-Mart.

"I don't think that two Wal-Marts could be supported by the two towns," he said.

Suisun City Manager Suzanne Bragdon said she was not disappointed by the news.

"We don't see this as a negative at all," she said.

Suisun City won't have any problems bringing in other retailers, she said.

The city will continue to move forward with the shopping center.

"I see the opportunity for greater synergy," she said.

Reach Nathan Halverson at 425-4646 ext. 267 or

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