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In Far North Dallas, Neighbors Are Rallying to Stop a Walmart Planned for Arapaho and Coit

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When I was growing up a few blocks away from the Spanish Village shopping center in Far North Dallas it was, if never booming, at least heavily trafficked. It was the site of Chuck's Hamburgers, where we'd walk for lunch when my junior high got out early for end-of-semester exams. Border's was there, too, where I whiled away some dull summer hours and bought handful of criminally overpriced CDs in the days before I discovered the ease of online music piracy. My family frequented a decent but unfortunately named hole-in-the-wall Tex-Mex place there, Mexi-Go, where we were once shocked to see local celebrity/WFAA weatherman Troy Dungan eating sans bow tie (he was, in fact, wearing a brightly-colored nylon track suit).

There are a few small businesses holding on at the northwest corner of Coit and Arapaho, notably Durango, the quirky desert Southwest-themed furniture store where a friend's mom started working after going through a divorce, and a couple of others, but it's mostly depopulated, a retail ghost town that has withered as commerce at the Coit-Campbell intersection just to the north has boomed.

But that's all in the past. George and Andrea Underwood, who own the property, are now looking to the future. And that future, as the Advocate noted yesterday, is Walmart.

The retail giant has its eye on the Spanish Village complex as the site for a new store. The chain hasn't said much publicly about the project. Its PR contact has promised to provide more information by the end of the day. But according to neighbors who have seen the proposal, the plan is for one of Walmart's new, scaled-down supercenters that take up 90,000 square feet, or half as much the typical big box.

The reduced scale isn't assuaging the concerns of neighbors, who haven't exactly thrilled to the idea of having a Walmart of any size move in next door. Matter of fact, they've launched a petition, at 1,100 signatures and counting, pledging a boycott if the store gets built. There's also, of course, a Facebook group.

Their worries are about what you'd expect: Traffic will be a mess; the store will kill off surrounding small businesses; crime will increase. "You don't want this in your backyard," said Adam Kanneman, who lives on the other side of Coit from the location, in Richardson, and opposes the store. "That's the reason you move here, because it's nice and quiet." No one wants or expects a big box to go in next door, he says.

Of course, Walmart is well practiced at handling neighborhood opposition, sometimes working with neighbors, sometimes around them to get stores built. Look at the Neighborhood Market on Lower Greenville. If you can successfully build a store literally across the street from Avi Adelman, you can build one anywhere.

We'll update when we hear back from the store.

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