Thursday, April 6, 2006

Wal-Mart still interested in Suisun after all

From Daily Republic // April 6, 2006
By Nathan Halverson

SUISUN CITY - The public break up of Wal-Mart and Suisun City lasted one day.

The city announced Tuesday that Wal-Mart broke things off without giving a reason why. On Wednesday, a Wal-Mart spokesman said the company still wanted a relationship with the city.

"We're still committed to a store in Suisun City," said Kevin Loscotoff, senior manager with Wal-Mart public affairs.

Loscotoff said Wal-Mart was considering other sites than the Gentry Project, which is located south of the Highway 12 and Pennsylvania Avenue intersection. The proposed Gentry project is a mega-development with retail space equivalent to about three-quarters of the Westfield Solano mall.

"We are just re-evaluating our options," Loscotoff said. "Without having an alternative location, there is no specific timeline for us."

Loscotoff said the retail giant wanted to explore its options for a variety of private reasons. But he didn't dismiss returning to the Gentry project if things worked out.

"We do understand this project still contains a supercenter," he said. "Not saying we will come back to this site, but we haven't ruled it out for future consideration."

Suisun City has few sites large enough to facilitate a Wal-Mart Supercenter. A supercenter needs about 15 acres.

One potential site is a 32-acre parcel of undeveloped land at Highway 12 and Marina Boulevard.
Scott Corey, spokesman for Suisun City, summarized his sentiments in one word: "Cool."

"If they were to locate somewhere else in town that would just mean added sales tax," Corey said. "If that scenario were to happen that would be a big plus."

Mayor Jim Spering was equally pleased.

"If Wal-Mart is interested in looking at other places in Suisun, I think that's great," he said.
Spering said if Wal-Mart built a supercenter and the Gentry project filled all its retail space it would "pretty much satisfy Suisun City's revenue needs for quite a few years."

Wal-Mart currently has a store on Chadbourne Road, across from the Anheuser-Busch brewery, in Fairfield. That store is slated to close, Loscotoff said.

Wal-Mart has applied to build a supercenter in Fairfield at the former Mission Village shopping center on North Texas Street. Wal-Mart owns the site.

The current Wal-Mart is about 125,000 square feet. The proposed Fairfield supercenter is 202,630 square feet, about 61 percent larger.

The additional size includes room for a full-service grocery department and a garden center. A supercenter carries about 116,000 different items, according to Wal-Mart's Web site.

Wal-Mart has 14 supercenters in California and 146 traditional stores, employing about 69,221.

Supercenters are always a bit controversial because opponents of the stores claim they drive smaller businesses into ruin and result in a net loss of jobs in a community.

Fairfield officials commissioned a report looking at the economic impact of a Wal-Mart. The report - released last month - stated that building a Wal-Mart in both Fairfield and Suisun City would lead to urban decay, which is the desolation of other retail centers.

Loscotoff said Wal-Mart's decision to look for alternatives in Suisun City, effectively delaying a store there, had nothing to do with the Fairfield city council's pending decision on whether to approve their supercenter.

"Neither one has to do with the other," he said. "All along we've stressed that each store is surviving in a separate market."

Reach Nathan Halverson at 425-4646 ext. 267 or

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