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2002-11-19
Dallas, TX. City Kills a Wal-Mart Mockingbird.

The "ayes of Texas" turned into "nays" last week for Wal-Mart. On November 13th, the Dallas City Council unanimously shot down a 206,000 s.f. Wal-Mart supercenter proposed for a corner on Mockingbird Lane in the Dallas central city near Love Field. Even though the Texas steretype is for everything big -- in the end it was the size of this project that killed it. The controversial project had draggged on for five months, and according to the Dallas Morning News, had pitted neighbors against each other along racial lines. Most of the Wal-Mart opponents were white, and most supporters were black. Wal-Mart touted the store's alleged economic benefits to the city, including a projected $5 million a year in sales and property taxes. Wal-Mart testified that the area was "very underserved", and that local residents spend $2 billion in other areas because of the lack of retail stores in their neighborhoods. But City Council members said Wal-Mart had a basic problem: size. The supercenter, the size of 5 football fields, was considered too large to fit on the 11 acre parcel of land, and would generate too many car trips. "The site and the neighborhoods would be smothered," Council member Veletta Lill, who represents the area, was quoted as saying. Her colleague on the Council, Alan Walne said: "We are not going to make bad land-use decisions just because it's something we want real bad." After the vote, Wal-Mart admitted "We're pretty frustrated. We know there's no alternative that will work." Wal-Mart is currently developing supercenters in the southern and western sections of Dallas. The company's spokesman suggested that despite this rejection, the retailer would not let go of this market area. "We never quit," was the company's position. Dallas Mayor Pro Tem Don Hill asked Wal-Mart to play a role in lowering animosity the company's proposal generated among neighbors. "You've got a responsibility to help us with the healing process," the Mayor said. "The people who want Wal-Mart want it for very good and legitimate reasons. The people who don't want Wal-Mart don't want it for very good and legitimate reasons," he said. "You just have a legitimate disagreement."

What you can do: What Wal-Mart is giving Texas these days is "dark stores". Everytime they open up a supercenter, look for a closed Wal-Mart discount store nearby. As of last winter when Sprawl-Busters searched their empty store list, Wal-Mart had 45 dead stores, or 3.3 million square feet of empty stores, in Texas -- making that state Number One in dead Wal-Marts. This Dallas story, where local activists stood up and defended the store, reminded me of the New Orleans Wal-Mart battle, where it turned out that community activists and religious leaders were paid thousands of dollars to testify on Wal-Mart's behalf. But this time, Texans killed the Mockingbird proposal. For local contacts in Dallas, email info@sprawl-busters.com.










 
 
"Norman has become the guru of the anti-Wal-Mart movement" ~ 60 Minutes

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