Copley, OH. Wal-Mart Abandons Its Plans, Says Retail Climate Has Changed
Nine years ago, in May of 2008, residents of Copley, Ohio contacted Sprawl-Busters for help in blocking a proposed Wal-Mart superstore. This week, residents wrote to say that their long battle was over, and victory declared.
“Wal-Mart finally decided NOT to open a supercenter on Rothrock Road in Copley, Ohio?” wrote the Citizens for a Better Montrose. “Since Wal-Mart ended up buying the property from Larry Levy, the owner of the property, we were worried that they would build but our constant fighting paid off in the end!”
“There is a Wal-Mart and Sam's Club not even a mile away in Fairlawn that they were supposed to remodel before they decided to build the supercenter,” the group wrote.”So it would have been two more big box stores sitting empty while they continued to lease them so no other stores could move in that might be competition!"
According to a report in the Akron Beacon Journal, “Wal-Mart is abandoning plans to open a supercenter on Rothrock Road in the township, saying the retail climate has changed since it first proposed the move.”
Wal-Mart sent a letter this week to township officials saying the giant retailers “does not desire to move forward with the development …” and is withdrawing its zoning application.”
The Journal notes that “the retail market has changed dramatically” over the past decade, “with many national retailers, including Wal-Mart, shuttering stores. “As you can imagine, so many things have changed,” a company spokesman told the newspaper. Wal-Mart will now put the land it bought in Copley up for sale.
According to the Journal, township officials are pleased that the “Wal-Mart soap opera is coming to an end.” “The Copley Township trustees are pleased that Wal-Mart has finally made a decision about the Rothrock Road site,” the township’s attorney said. “Now that Wal-Mart has abandoned the project, the trustees plan to initiate discussions about the future of that property and engage our neighbors in Fairlawn about dealing with the traffic issues in the Montrose area.”
Wal-Mart “faced stiff opposition to the relocation from Fairlawn officials and the potential move created friction between city and township leaders,” the Journal admitted. Neighboring Fairlawn closed a portion of the road leading to the proposed Wal-Mart to through traffic. Three lawsuits were spawned by this project, two of which were filed by developers.
Fairlawn Mayor Bill Roth told the newspaper, “We did what we had to do to protect the residential integrity of Fairlawn.” The Mayor admitted in 2008 that his preference was to have Wal-Mart expand its Fairlawn store at the Rosemont shopping center on West Market Street. "They acknowledge that they could expand and stay on the site. And they acknowledge there is great traffic (for commerce) on West Market Street,"the Mayor said.
Area residents voiced their opposition to the big box plan by circulating a petition that calls for Rothrock Road, where the supercenter would be, to be widened from two to five lanes-- at the developer's expense. Neighbors also expressed concerns over crime and traffic congestion, and the 24/7 hours of operation.
In December of 2008, Wal-Mart officials announced that they were going to stay in Fairlawn after all, and instead of building a new store a mile away in Copley, they would spend $800,000 to renovate their Fairlawn store. But by September of 2010, Wal-Mart had changed its mind again -- and announced that it was going back to its first plan to build a superstore in Copley.
But now that Wal-Mart has written its goodbye letter to Copley, the soap opera is over, and the Wal-Mart opponents are celebrating a long-fought victory.
What you can do: To see the most recent story about Wal-Mart’s demise in Copley:
To see the history of this battle on Sprawl-Busters, go to: http://www.sprawl-busters.com/search.php?SRCHstory=Copley
The cancellation of this store is consistent with the recent bricks and mortar retrenchment by Wal-Mart, and a shifting focus on internet sales, with the acquisiton of Jet.com and several online retailers. Wal-Mart's pursuit of Amazon is at least partially responsible for the decision to rennovate its existing stores in Fairlawn, and withdraw its investment in a new store in Copley. Almost of decade of investment by the company has come to naught.