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2007-08-11
North Lauderdale, FL. No One Wants To Be Wal-Martís Neighbor

The next step for Wal-Mart may be to place an ad on e-harmony, looking for someone compatible. Until then, the retail giant has told city officials in North Lauderdale, Florida, that no one wants to be their neighbor. Wal-Mart claims that they have had no luck in locating any tenants who want to move into their shopping center at the 43 acre former U-Pick farm on McNab Road. But the company is not blaming it's own reputation as a retail killer -- it's saying the neighborhood isn't very attractive. According to the South Florida Sun-Sentinel, city officials were not too pleased to hear Wal-Mart say "nobody wants to come to North Lauderdale, and we've tried everything we can." Wal-Mart was supposed to serve as the anchor retailer in a "Town Center" destination site -- which is a bad concept to begin with. Any community that places Wal-Mart as its town center, has no center, and no vision. The Town Center was supposed to have a 208,000 s.f. Wal-Mart superstore, plus an 80 room hotel to look out onto the big box, restaurants, and another 36,000 s.f. of retailers. The city says Wal-Mart signed an agreement that placed the burden on the retailer to find tenants to round out the project. According to the website promoting this development, "The Commons at North Lauderdale featuring a 208,000 square foot Wal-Mart Supercenter has been uniquely designed with a main boulevard entrance flanked by extensive landscaping with towering palms and nine (9) freestanding restaurant and retail buildings. The entrance will feature three (3) lakes with fountains, a paved stone roundabout and each building will have outdoor seating areas. There will be a seasonal outdoor farmers market operated by Wal-Mart and an "Art In Public Place" sculpture exhibited by Wyland as well as project identification banners and a transit bus bay along McNab Road." Now, North Lauderdale officials are worried that instead of a "The Commons" they're going to wind up with just a common big box. Mayor Jack Brady shifted into emergency mode, convening a special City Commission meeting to hear first-hand why nothing is happening at the appropriately named U-Pick site. "Let them come in," the Mayor said about Wal-Mart. "I want to hear this ... face to face. I want them to look at me in my face." But the Mayor is going to be as lonely as the U-Pick site, because a Wal-Mart spokesman said "no one in our Wal-Mart corporate office was notified nor invited to attend." Wal-Mart now wants to get going on their building, despite the lack of other tenants, but Mayor Brady is not giving up his dream. "A lot of people have been waiting for this. I'm not selling out," Brady told the newspaper. One city official said that Wal-Mart was trying to strong-arm the city. "They called me to flex some muscle that they are Wal-Mart and they can do whatever they want," the official said. The Sun-Sentinel described city officials as being "exasperated." Commissioner John Cangemi, who represents citizens in the district where Wal-Mart will locate, said he had been trying to lure restaurants to the site as well. "You have no idea how much I've put into this," he said. "I'm just very disgruntled about this because I promised residents in my district there would be something soon."

What you can do: City officials in North Lauderdale have delivered a Wal-Mart Town Center and nothing else -- which was about as difficult as falling off a truck. The towering palms and freestanding restaurants have evaporated in the North Lauderdale sun. But don't worry about the shoppers of North Lauderdale. The Mayor's constituents already have a Wal-Mart discount store on West McNab road, plus 9 other Wal-Marts within 10 miles, including a supercenter 2 miles away in Margate, and supercenters 4-5 miles away in Lauderdale Lakes, Coral Springs, and Pompano Beach. Now's the perfect time to call Mayor Jack Brady at 954 724-7056 or e-mail him at: jbrady@nlauderdale.org. Tell the Mayor to "forget the towering palm trees, rip up the agreement with Wal-Mart, before you end up with just a huge big box store, and a banner that reads, 'Brady's Folly.' North Lauderdale shoppers already have plenty of opportunities to visit Wal-Marts."










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

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