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2007-12-15
Sioux Falls, S.D. Third Wal-Mart Supercenter “Dead”

The city of Sioux Falls, South Dakota already has two Wal-Mart supercenters. One is on South Louise, and the other on Arrowhead Parkway. According to the Argus Leader newspaper, the giant retailer realized that a planned third superstore in the northwest corner of the city was overkill. The newspaper added Sioux Falls to the growing list of cities and towns with cancelled Wal-Mart projects. "We regret we can't come here after we said we would," a Wal-Mart "senior manager of public affairs" told the newspaper two days ago. "We told Sioux Falls we would come, and now we've got to go back on our word. It's dead. We've had to withdraw from our contract." The cancellation was linked directly to the company's plan to curtail expansion, first unveiled at its annual stockholders meeting in June. The newspaper said, "Sioux Falls didn't make the cut." City officials responded in their typical, unexamined way. "It probably does set us back a year or two," Mayor Dave Munson told the Leader. "It is unfortunate, but they have to make business decisions like everybody else does. The store was pretty much a go. We'll just have to go out and get something else." This Wal-Mart was supposed to be the anchor of a new retail zone a mile from the junction of Interstates 29 and 90. "The area is farmland with few houses nearby," the newspaper said, "but officials hoped Wal-Mart would spark growth." But other voices suggest that the location for a supercenter did not make sense. "I was surprised from the beginning that they were going up there," a commercial real estate broker told the newspaper. "Go up there and drive around. How many houses do you see? A couple subdivisions, and that's it. Retailers like to go where there are lots of single-family homes and apartments. It was pretty scattered. It doesn't surprise me it's a site they took off the list." The 30 acres of farmland has been in one family's hands for the past 93 years. It is being developed by the R.H. Johnson Co. of Kansas City, Missouri. The newspaper repeated the myth that the new store would mean 250 to 400 new jobs -- but that is a gross figure, not counting the lost jobs elsewhere in the trade area. A spokesman from the Sioux Falls Development Corporation got it right. "I don't feel Sioux Falls is underserved by Wal-Mart. It's not going to make a big difference in the overall income statement for Wal-Mart if they don't have a store there."

What you can do: The local TV station, Keloland, interviewed a Sioux Falls resident who bemoaned the Wal-Mart cancellation. "The other day for instance, I ran out of baby wipes," she said. "Oh man, so then I had to go all the way into town just for baby wipes. Now, if Wal-Mart was there, I could have even just walked across the street to pick them up." But another neighbor noted, "They already have 2, one on East 10th, and one up there Louise and that's enough." Keloland TV said most people interviewed said that now that Wal-Mart is out, they hope whatever does take its place "will mean progress for the Northwest side of the city." Apparently "progress" in Sioux Falls means destroying farmland for more highway malls. Readers are urged to let Mayor David Munson know how you feel about sprawl in Sioux Falls. The Mayor can be reached by email at: http://www.siouxfalls.org/contactus/emailus/mayor.aspx, and by phone: 605-367-8000. Tell the Mayor: "Maybe its time to work on a small business development plan for Sioux Falls, and focus on protecting farmland, not turning it into malls. Your city is fortunate not to have a third Wal-Mart coming. If you don't change directions, Sioux Falls will no longer be the 'Gateway to the Prairie,' but simply the Gateway To Sprawl." It's time to put a cap on the size of retail stores in Sioux Falls."










 
 
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