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2008-01-23
Crowley, TX. Wal-Mart In Another “Holding Pattern.”

Crowley, Texas describes itself as a "vibrant community known for its quiet neighborhoods and bustling business districts. According to Crowley Mayor Billy P. Davis, "You will encounter the warmth and hometown impression our city has to offer." But if you go to Crowley today, you will not encounter a hometown Wal-Mart supercenter, because the Arkansas retailer has put Crowley on hold. Crowley, with a population of roughly 11,000 people, has no shortage of Wal-Mart stores, however. Within 20 miles of the city limit, there are 19 Wal-Mart stores, including 13 supercenters. Wal-Mart junkies in Crowley who are addicted to Chinese merchandise, have their choice of driving four miles to the supercenter in Burleson, or 4 miles to visit the 2 supercenters in Forth Worth. But officials in Crowley think it would be an economic shot in the arm to have another supercente in their small city. But according to the Connection newspaper, Wal-Mart has put the Crowley superstore in storage -- another victim of Wal-Mart's over-reaching growth plans. The Crowley City Council was given a memo late last week with the bad news. The memo was contained in a report from the City Manager's office. Wal-Mart now says their project may not come back on line for several years -- as late as 2011. "The delay is related to Wal-Mart's plans to moderate growth of U.S. Supercenters as part of leveraging capital resources through a strategy designed to improve returns, productivity and sales within U.S. stores," the Wal-Mart memo said. "Wal-Mart is still interested in joining the Crowley community, but we are in the process of reviewing the timing of all of our projects. We cannot confirm at this point the timing of a groundbreaking." A local engineering company that was handling the Wal-Mart project told City officials that Wal-Mart's major slow-down in superstore construction was due to the "rising cost of construction," the newspaper said. "They haven't told us any time frame," the Fort Worth engineering firm said. "It's all going to be decided in internal meetings that Wal-Mart is having." This engineering firm noted that his company has 8 supercenters alone in Texas that are on ice. Meanwhile, the city is hot to trot, and has cleared the way for the superstore. "It's all ready on the city's side," the city manager told the Connection. "It's their play now, whenever they decide it's time. It's their business plan that's up in the air." But the city also feels its budget is up in the air too, because they see Wal-Mart as a form of economic development. "It will mean more revenue to the city that will provide residents with more amenities like improved parks, plus increased police and fire protection," a city official said. "The bottom line is that it will be a positive revenue stream for the city." Mayor Billy Davis has been a long-standing proponent of the project. "Crowley will get all of the benefit out of this without a lot of the headache. It's on the east side of town -- traffic won't cause more congestion in downtown like it would if it were out there with the [Kroger] and Albertsons." The Mayor apparently said the Wal-Mart will give residents "a place of their own to shop, rather than going to the more congested Burleson store or Fort Worth." The Mayor noted:
"This can't be anything but a big plus for Crowley as far as job opportunities and revenue for the city."

What you can do: The 20 acres Wal-Mart wants to build on is owned by a company called Crowley 100 LP of Dallas, which the construction company says is an investment group from China. A spokesman for the landowner, I-Ming Chee, said the owners were "a syndicate of sorts, a real estate investment company with several groups of members from all over the United States and Asia," Chee said. Wal-Mart currently has 291 supercenters in Texas, and 47 discount stores. By contrast, in 1996, Texas had 185 discount stores, and only 56 supercenters. Over the past decade, Wal-Mart has abandoned close to 138 discount store. Today, the company has 19 "dark stores" available for sale or lease in Texas. Not only has the company over-saturated Texas, but it has left its empty remains along the highways of the Lone Star state. Readers are urged to email Crowley Mayor Billy Davis at: billy@ci.crowley.tx.us, with this message: "You don't need a Wal-Mart on the east side of town, you don't need a Wal-Mart anywhere. Your trade area is flooded with supercenters, with Burleson and Forth Worth supercenters only minutes away. You are fortunate that this Crowley Wal-Mart is now in a holding pattern. All this project represents is a gun to the head to stores like Albertson's and Krogers. It won't produce new jobs, it won't produce new revenues. It's just retail musical chairs. A city your size has no market need for another supercenter. While Wal-Mart is on hold, you should urge the city council to pass a zoning law limiting the size of retail buildings. Then you'll have a 'vibrant community' with more locally-owned stores that keep their money local."










 
 
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