Sprawl-Busters Newsflash Blog - Anti-Sprawl news since 1998.
Subscribe to Sprawl-Busters Blog Follow Sprawl Busters on Twitter
Occupy Walmart & Order Al's Books Movies Newsflash! The Case Against Sprawl Home Towns Not Home Depot Victories Your Battles About Us Contact Us  

recent news

List articles
by the month:

2017
JAN FEB MAR
APR MAY JUN
JUL AUG SEP
OCT NOV DEC

2016
JAN FEB MAR
APR MAY JUN
JUL AUG SEP
OCT NOV DEC

2015
JAN FEB MAR
APR MAY JUN
JUL AUG SEP
OCT NOV DEC

2014
JAN FEB MAR
APR MAY JUN
JUL AUG SEP
OCT NOV DEC

2013
JAN FEB MAR
APR MAY JUN
JUL AUG SEP
OCT NOV DEC

2012
JAN FEB MAR
APR MAY JUN
JUL AUG SEP
OCT NOV DEC

2011
JAN FEB MAR
APR MAY JUN
JUL AUG SEP
OCT NOV DEC

2010
JAN FEB MAR
APR MAY JUN
JUL AUG SEP
OCT NOV DEC

2009
JAN FEB MAR
APR MAY JUN
JUL AUG SEP
OCT NOV DEC

2008
JAN FEB MAR
APR MAY JUN
JUL AUG SEP
OCT NOV DEC

2007
JAN FEB MAR
APR MAY JUN
JUL AUG SEP
OCT NOV DEC

2006
JAN FEB MAR
APR MAY JUN
JUL AUG SEP
OCT NOV DEC

2005
JAN FEB MAR
APR MAY JUN
JUL AUG SEP
OCT NOV DEC

2004
JAN FEB MAR
APR MAY JUN
JUL AUG SEP
OCT NOV DEC

2003
JAN FEB MAR
APR MAY JUN
JUL AUG SEP
OCT NOV DEC

2002
JAN FEB MAR
APR MAY JUN
JUL AUG SEP
OCT NOV DEC

2001
JAN FEB MAR
APR MAY JUN
JUL AUG SEP
OCT NOV DEC

2000
JAN FEB MAR
APR MAY JUN
JUL AUG SEP
OCT NOV DEC

1999
JAN FEB MAR
APR MAY JUN
JUL AUG SEP
OCT NOV DEC

1998
JAN FEB MAR
APR MAY JUN
JUL AUG SEP
OCT NOV DEC


Search database by text:

2010-09-18
Tarpon Springs, FL. Wal-Mart Considering Dead Kmart Building

Since 2005, Sprawl-Busters has written a dozen stories about the never-ending battle against Wal-Mart in Tarpon Springs, Florida. But this week, the story took an unexpected turn -- one that involves a dead Kmart building.

On November 22, 2008, Sprawl-Busters reported that Wal-Mart opponents in Tarpon Springs, Florida were celebrating a major victory over the giant retailer. After four years of pushing -- Wal-Mart announced that it was giving up the battle for a superstore-by-the-river.

Wal-Mart had been swimming against the public tide to build a supercenter on the banks of the Anclote River in Tarpon Springs. Despite Wal-Mart's refusal to rule out another attempt to build this store at some point down the road, the word spread that they were in the process of formally withdrawing their site plan application from the City. If they ever came back, they'll be starting the whole process all over -- and that seemed very unlikely.

The Tarpon Springs Board of Commissioners voted 3 to 2 in January of 2005 to approve an enormous Wal-Mart development on the Anclote River. The site plan approved included a 203,000 s.f. 24-hour supercenter with a 1,000 space parking lot, tire and lube center and an out parcel for a restaurant or retail store, plus 6 acres for residential or office development.

A citizens group called Friends of the Anclote River charged that the plan was an irresponsible project that would have adverse impacts on the ecology, the economy, the traffic burden, and the small town character and future of the community. The Friends of Anclote kept up their battle to protect their river. After several years of internal back-and-forth, on October 16, 2008, the Tarpon Springs Planning and Zoning Board voted to recommend the City Commission declare the site plan for the Wal-Mart was no longer valid.

A few days later, the City Commission voted 3-2 that the concurrency certificate had expired. On November 21, 2008, Wal-Mart withdrew its plans. The retailer said it was not selling the land -- just backing off building plans for at least two years. "We'll monitor the environment in Tarpon Springs over the next few years and determine what we'll do with the site," a company spokesman said.

On December 17, 2008, Sprawl-Busters reported that the Pinellas County Commission had agreed to send a letter to Wal-Mart suggesting that the company sell its 74 acre undeveloped land to the county. Both Tarpon Springs and Pinellas County officials have said they would like to see the land, which has been assessed at $6.6-million, preserved. The County admitted that they were not sure about where the money would come from to buy the land, but they wanted to begin the process by expressing a clear interest to Wal-Mart. They stand in line now with Tarpon Springs officials, who wanted to convert the site into a park.

On June 20, 2009, Sprawl-Busters reported that Wal-Mart had told the city's attorney that the corporation "still intends to proceed with its desire to construct a supercenter on its property." But this week, the St. Peterburg Times reports that Wal-Mart is negotiating a deal to buy an empty Kmart building, which has been empty since the retailer closed its doors ten months ago. Kmart occupied the 84,180 s.f. building for 35 years. The building is owned by Kmart's parent company, Sears Holding Corporation.

After battling for five years to build a new store, reusing the Kmart building must look very attractive to Wal-Mart, because it will not need to be rezoned, or come before the City Commission. It's fitting that Wal-Mart reuse the dead Kmart, since Wal-Mart helped put the Kmart out of business. "That means, there's no review process, no environmental issues," the Tarpon Springs City Manager told The Times. "If it comes about, it's a big win, win, win for everybody. But again, it's not done, is just in negotiations."

Not all the opponents see this project as a "big win,win,win." One spokesman for the Friends of the Anclote River told The Times, "Do I want a Wal-Mart at the gateway of the community? Not necessarily. But there is nothing we can do."

The Mayor of Tarpon Springs thinks the building recycling is great. Mayor David Archie called the Wal-Mart deal "some of the best news I've heard lately. Being able to hire people within our city and looking at some of the goods and services that the old Kmart had and having that building occupied, which is at the gateway of our city, is also a plus. I don't see any negatives in terms of them occupying that building."

Wal-Mart's use of the 74 acres of land it still owns by the Anclote River remains an issue. The retailer could bide its time, begin operations at the Kmart site, and simply wait for the right political moment to resubmit plans for a larger supercenter.


It is not the taxpayers' fault that Wal-Mart chose an inappropriate site by the river. Now they should repair the damage they have done to their image in Tarpon Springs by making a gift of the property to the public. They city should ask Wal-Mart publicly to make that donation during the current tax year, so they can write the donation off as a charitable gift. That would be an appropriate gift to Tarpon Springs residents, who have waded through years of company rhetoric to win their battle.

Former Mayor Billiris used to say she wanted Tarpon Springs to be the 'finest city in Florida' through 'protection of the city's natural resources.' I hope you agree with that sentiment, and that you will urge Wal-Mart to reuse the Kmart facility, and donate its superstore site to the city.

One final point: Because this recycled project will have a grocery component, you may very well end up with another grocery store in the community going out of business. So before you start counting your 'new' jobs, remember that inviting Wal-Mart to the city was like inviting a cannibal to dinner."

What you can do: One city commissioner suggested that Wal-Mart should "decide to be a good neighbor" and sell the property to the city for ballparks and other recreational uses. She also recommended that the city hold a ballot question for voters asking them if they want a Wal-Mart on this property -- hoping that a negative vote would convince Wal-Mart to sell its land and leave.

Former Mayor Beverly Billiris said in 2009 that the city was working on amendments to its land development code that would prohibit big-box retailers such as Wal-Mart from building within the city. Billiris said she contacted Wal-Mart officials and was told the company is not interested in selling its land for at least three years. The city has opened up discussions with county and federal officials to see if they can work together to preserve the riverfront land.

Mayor Billiris said Wal-Mart was unwilling to negotiate with the city or county on selling the land. "We could have looked at making it some kind of a preserve and protecting it forever," the Mayor said.

Readers are urged to email the new Tarpon Springs Mayor David Archie at: darchie@ctsfl.us with the following message:

"Dear Mayor Archie, Recycling the Kmart building is certainly better than building a new superstore by the Anclote River. I hope you will make it clear to Wal-Mart that your Administration will never support the Anclote site for a superstore, and that you will aggressively follow up on the county's interest to buy the Wal-Mart land and turn it into a preserve.

I'd like to see the city continue to apply pressure on the retailer to do the right thing and donate the property. For starters, the company should be asked to donate the land to the city. Wal-Mart likes to talk about being a green company, and being environmentally sensitive. What better way to demonstrate their environmental concern than to donate the land to the city, and prevent taxpayers from having to buy the company out?

It is not the taxpayers' fault that Wal-Mart chose an inappropriate site by the river. Now they should repair the damage they have done to their image in Tarpon Springs by making a gift of the property to the public. They city should ask Wal-Mart publicly to make that donation during the current tax year, so they can write the donation off as a charitable gift. That would be an appropriate gift to Tarpon Springs residents, who have waded through years of company rhetoric to win their battle.

Former Mayor Billiris used to say she wanted Tarpon Springs to be the 'finest city in Florida' through 'protection of the city's natural resources.' I hope you agree with that sentiment, and that you will urge Wal-Mart to reuse the Kmart facility, and donate its superstore site to the city.

One final point: Because this recycled project will have a grocery component, you may very well end up with another grocery store in the community going out of business. So before you start counting your 'new' jobs, remember that inviting Wal-Mart to the city was like inviting a cannibal to dinner."











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

info@sprawl-busters.com
Strategic Planning ~ Field Operations
Voter Campaigns 
21 Grinnell St, Greenfield ~ MA 01301
(413) 772-6289