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2008-04-07
Eufaula, AL. Wal-Mart Superstore Plans Still In Limbo

Are they coming or not? The city of Eufaula, Alabama already has a Wal-Mart discount store on South Eufala Avenue. This small community of roughly 13,400 people has seen little population growth since 1990. Wal-Mart, in its quest to shut down and replace all of its discount stores, has had an on-and-off-again relationship with Eufaula. According to the Eufaula Tribune, Wal-Mart is still leaving the city up in the air regarding its plans to bring a superstore to Eufaula. City officials are well aware of the fact that Wal-Mart has cancelled or delayed 46 projects since announcing a growth cutback last June at its annual shareholders meeting. But a Wal-Mart official told the Tribune this week that her company still wants to bring a superstore to the city -- it just has no date on the horizon. "We still have the intent to bring a supercenter (to Eufaula)," she told the newspaper. The company says its Executive Committee re-evaluated the Eufaula proposal, and decided that this location is still viable. Wal-Mart bought land last June -- the same month the superstore cutbacks were announced -- on Highway 431 for the project, and chipped in some funds to help pay for a new water tower near their proposed supercenter site. But the Planning Commission was told last year that Eufaula was a viable site, and there is still no development. The Wal-Mart discount store, which is located at the Eufaula Towne Center mall, has a lease that ends in 2010. The city's Planning Commission has given the retailer approval to divide its 66 acre property into 7 parcels. Wal-Mart submitted plans for a building with a "brick" fašade to reflect the "historic character" of Eufaula, the Tribune said. According to the newspaper, to avoid the big box look, "The building appears to have three or four smaller stores rather than one large store." But the superstore will be around 190,000 s.f.

What you can do: Eufaula describes itself as having an "economic base [which] balances a healthy mix of tourism, light manufacturing, industry, service and agriculture." The City says its historic central business district enjoys a "strong occupancy rate, with a variety of stores, specialty shops, restaurants and professional offices." When listing its local businesses, Eufaula doesn't mention its existing Wal-Mart store. The city has formed Main Street Eufaula, Inc. to help revitalized its downtown, include fašade grants for downtown buildings, and other promotions. The city brags that its downtown area is 95% occupied, "an unheard of accomplishment for a town of any size." The city has received $900,000 in grants for the downtown area. The city also engaged in an 18 month planning effort called "Eufaula 2020," to describe where residents want the city to be in 2020. The city's Vision Statement begins: "Eufaula, Alabama is a sustainable community committed to building its future while preserving its treasured assets. It is a family-oriented community that values its beauty, natural resources, and rich history." Goal # 14 in that plan is to "Sustain and develop Eufaula's downtown area." The city also has a goal to "Amend land-use related ordinances and regulations to increase effectiveness and promote sustainable development practices." Readers are urged to contact Eufaula Mayor Jay Jaxon, Jr. by emailing his Administrative Assistant at: tbush@eufaulaalabama.com with the following message: "Mayor Jaxon, Your city is making a major commitment to downtown revitalization and sustainable land use development, yet you are encouraging big box growth on Highway 431 which will work against your efforts to bring people downtown. A Wal-Mart supercenter is not sustainable. The one Wal-Mart store Eufaula already has is one more than enough. As part of Vision 2020, Eufaula should amend its zoning code to put a cap of 75,000 s.f. on retail buildings, to keep suburban sprawl in check. And add language requiring a demolition bond for any building owner who allows their building to remain vacant for more than 24 consecutive months. If you don't take this action, Eufaula will end up with a huge superstore and an empty Wal-Mart discount store. All the superstore will do is close other local grocery stores, and leave you with an empty eyesore on South Eufaula Avenue. While Wal-Mart is making up its mind about Eufaula, make up your mind to really promote sustainable growth."










 
 
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