Tigard,OR. Wal-Mart Returns To City That Rejected Superstore
About 4 weeks ago, the Oregonian newspaper carried a story that Wal-Mart had announced plans to open a 137,900 s.f. superstore in Tigard,Oregon by late 2013.
The store would be located between Interstate 5 and Oregon 99, on a vacant lot across from a WinCo Foods grocery store. About six years ago, Tigard rejected a 220,000 s.f. Wal-Mart -- but now they are back trying to slip in under a developer's approval.
As part of the construction, Wal-Mart said it will make improvements to the highway and the nearby streets of Southwest 72nd Avenue, Hermoso Way, Beveland Street and the famously clogged Oregon 217 off-ramp to Oregon 99.
According to the Oregonian,Wal-Mart has big plans for Oregon, looking to take market share from companies like WinCo and Fred Meyer. The giant retailer also has plans to saturate the state with its smaller grocery store format, known as Neighborhood Markets, in places like Beaverton, Lake Oswego and Gresham. There is clearly no market need in this trade area, which already has 10 Wal-Mart stores within 20 miles of Tigard, including 2 supercenters, 2 discount stores, and 5 Neighborhood Markets.
Immediately after the announcement, local residents started to organize against the Wal-Mart proposal. One group began an online petition with the following statement: "Tigard Oregon is a suburb of the Portland Oregon metro area. Tigard is supported by local caring people who shop local businesses, and have done their best to keep Walmart out of our town. Now the Tigard City Council and Mayor have approved a deal allowing Walmart to enter into the city where concerned citizens have repeatedly pushed Walmart out. Again Walmart has behind the scenes negotiated for a store that will not only lower property values, destroy local businesses, increase traffic exponentially in a area that is already overloaded with trafffic, (but also) take away more living wage jobs and take money out of our community."
Wal-Mart also has its own website promoting the Tigard project, in which it says that the property is zoned General-Commercial, which allows "a full range of retail uses, including grocery." Wal-Mart says it plans to use development approvals obtained by the developer PacTrust to build on the land. "Tigard's Wal-Mart will preserve existing wetlands next to the site," Wal-Mart says, "and construct enhanced wetland buffer areas with walkways, plazas, and other amenities" -- just what one needs next to a wetland. The company also offers "street widening improvements" and "three new traffic signals" which benefits the project more than it does the citizens of Tigard.
Wal-Mart also claims that this new store will "create more than 250 new quality jobs," and notes that their (unverifiable) average hourly wage in Oregon in 2011 was $12.93. This is not what a starting worker at a Tigard Wal-Mart would make, which would be closer to $8 or $8.50 per hour -- with no weekly guaranteed number of hours.
Finally, Wal-Mart boasts that it is a leader in constructing "sustainable buildings" which feature such items as recycled concrete, high efficency toilets, and LED lighting. But not a word about the "heat island" effect created by a huge store larger than two footballs fields, which will gather the exhaust from thousands of cars daily, adding volatile organic compounds and carbon monoxide into the air, not to mention the light and noise pollution left for the neighbors to enjoy.
What you can do: In August of 2006, Sprawl-Busters published a story about negative local reaction to a proposed 220,000 s.f. Wal-Mart superstore for Tigard -- a project which was never built.
When asked for a response to the huge project, then Tigard Mayor Craig Dirksen told The Oregonian newspaper, "I'm not happy with the idea at all. I'm opposed to the company based on what I know of the way they treat their employees, and also based on the impact that their marketing practices have on other local businesses."
The local State Representative went even further. Rep. Larry Galizio organized a group called Tigard First to fight off Wal-Mart. Galizio figured a 220,000 s.f. store had to be a Wal-Mart, and told the newspaper, "If it looks like a duck and it acts like a duck." Galizio also sent a letter to Wal-Mart officials in Arkansas saying, "The people of Tigard have legitimate concerns about this massive facility. They want to know what it will do to our traffic and our environment. They have serious worries about the impact on small businesses and local retailers, quality jobs with decent benefits and the overall quality of life in our community. The people of Tigard deserve to know whether or not Wal-Mart seeks to occupy this prominent area within our city. They don't want to be shoved off on a PR person or a development company. They want a straight answer from you."
Seven years later, Wal-Mart is back in Tigard with a "smaller" footprint, which is still way too large for this community of 49,000 people. Readers are urged to email Mayor John L. Cook and members of the city council at: email@example.com with the following message:
"Dear Mayor Cook,
You are a CPA. Have you run the numbers on a Wal-Mart superstore? This company's sales will be largely captured from existing merchants. Your retail sales per capita are already three times the rates of the rest of Oregon. What Wal-Mart will do in Tigard is displace other sales and jobs -- so the "new" employment they promise will never happen.
Your city motto is "a place to call home." But if you flood your city with national logos, the hometown feeling and scale of your community will take a turn for the worse. Past Mayors, like Craig Dirksen, understood that size and scale matters in a small community.
This project is simply too big for the parcel, and too intense a commercial use for Tigard. As Mayor, you can take the lead to tell Wal-Mart that its one thing to push a 40,000 s.f. Neighborhood Market on the city -- but quite another to shove a 137,000 s.f. project on your residents.
If Tigard residents need to shop at a Wal-Mart superstore, you have 2 of them within a short drive.
You don't need this size Wal-Mart anywhere in Tigard. Don't let Wal-Mart call Tigard home."