How many Walmarts does a city need to thrive? People living in the hip circle of neighborhoods surrounding downtown Dallas say we have enough Walmarts, Walmart-affiliated stores and other big boxes to sustain us and it's time to consider some development that isn't a giant box and acres of ashphalt. Residents in the neighborhood near Haskell Avenue and Central Expressway recently won a restraining order to temporarily stop Trammell Crow from building a 130,000-square-foot Sam's Club nearby, in what was supposed to be a walkable development called the East Village.
Eighteen miles away from the proposed East Village development rests the suburb of Cedar Hill, a town with a lot of nice trees and chain stores. There's a Half Price books, a SuperTarget and a Walmart, along with several Walmarts just outside city limits, ensuring that Cedar Hill residents will never go hungry for super savings ever again.
But that's not enough. Walmart is now considering putting two other Walmarts in Cedar Hill.
Why does Cedar Hill (population: 46,461) need three Walmarts? Because the new Walmarts will be smaller stores called Neighborhood Markets. Those are different, Walmart says.
At last night's Cedar Hill City Council meeting, a Walmart attorney requested a local zoning change on behalf of Walmart Neighborhood Stores. The change would lower the number of parking spaces required for any new grocery store in the city. When the Walmart attorney made his pitch for less parking, he almost sounded like an anti-Walmart activist.
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"Excessive parking has a negative impact on walkability," he said at the meeting, echoing the sentiments of many urban planners across the country. "The parking reduction would allow, again, more sustainable development."
One of the new Walmart Neighborhood Markets is already in development in Cedar Hill, according to the News, on Joe Wilson Road. The third Walmart location isn't official yet, but the store is considering opening a spot in the High Pointé neighborhood, on a patch currently occupied by dirt and trees. Residents this week complained that they didn't want a Walmart there given all the other Walmart options. The Walmart attorney countered that this would be a Walmart Neighborhood Market, different from a Walmart Super Center.
It's not an unfamiliar pitch. Walmart has been making a big push nationally to expand its so-called Neighborhood Markets. They're much smaller than the super-centers, sell more groceries, have smaller parking lots and supposedly a more neighborhood-like feel. For reference, the Walmart on Lower Greenville Avenue is actually one of its Neighborhood Markets. Can't you tell?
The Cedar Hill City Council approved Walmart's parking zoning change request last night, paving the way for more potential neighborhood markets, or at least Walmarts that call themselves neighborhood markets. If Cedar Hill does eventually get three Walmarts, this will be even more exciting than the news we brought you that Addison may soon get another TGI Friday's.