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Wal-Mart delays Mville and Arlington stores
MARYSVILLE The worlds largest retailer wont be coming to town for at least another two years, as Wal-Mart announced a one-year delay for stores planned in Marysville and Arlington. The Bentonville, Ark. based retailer will scrap plans to build a store in Mill Creek and said that despite persistent rumors, the busy Quil Ceda Village facility on the Tulalip Indian Reservation will stay open. According to a company spokesperson Washington state is underserved by the company, which will continue to build more stores here.
Spokeswoman Jennifer Spall said the retailing giant has looked at the pace of its expansion program company-wide and made the decision to push back on timelines for both Arlington and Marysville facilities from a planned 2009 opening to the first quarter of 2010 for both stores.
We love doing business in Snohomish County, Spall said. This was an overall strategic decision made by the company. This was us looking at how we are growing.
Spall said that Wal-Mart and its local development partners have had no issues working with the local jurisdictions after legal challenges from citizens backed by unions were dropped earlier this year. The United Food and Commercial Workers union supported efforts to block both stores before the Arlington and Marysville hearing examiners, as well as financing a lawsuit in Snohomish County superior court that was eventually dropped. Lawyers hired by the union cited traffic and environmental concerns in trying to stop the mammoth stores, which will be located at the corner of SR 9 and 64th Street (SR 528) in Marysville and on 172nd Street NE and 43rd Avenue NE in Arlington.
Marysville has been great to work with, Spall said.
She was quick to reiterate for the umpteenth time that her company gets along well with the Tulalip Tribes and has no plans to shutter the popular Supercenter at Quil Ceda Village, the first Wal-Mart built in the Seattle metropolitan area. Spall said that store is overshopped according to company statistics and is so popular that many other Indian tribes have asked to visit to see how they could attract a Wal-Mart to their reservation.
Weve had a great relationship with the Tribes, Spall said.
Some people have asked how many stores the company can build in one community without saturating the market, but Spall said in others areas of the United States there are many more stores per capita than in this market. For example, Texas has 400 Wal-Marts and Washington has only 44, and planners are relying on projections showing a million more people moving into Snohomish County in the distant future.
Theres tremendous growth available in Washington, Spall said. We will continue to build up there. We have very few stores compared to other areas in the nation.
Both stores planned for the area will be Supercenters, which sell groceries in addition to the general merchandise and clothing regular Wal-Marts carry. The Arlington store will cover 204,000 square feet; the Marysville store will be just over 188,000. The Quil Ceda Village store employs almost 800 workers; Spall said the Marysville and Arlington stores would have about 400 to 450 full-time workers.
A typical Wal-Mart can generate tax receipts in the range of $750,000 to $2.5 million per year; Spall said company planners told the city of Mount Vernon to expect an annual handle of $1.5 million and Mill Creek to expect a $1.2 million yearly take.
According to local government leaders, the two cities are disappointed but wont be left in the lurch, as the budgets for Arlington and Marysville werent built on the expected revenues.
Arlington finance director Kathy Peterson said she was disappointed in the delay, but that it wont blow a hole in her spreadsheet.
We havent spent the money; we didnt budget for it in case something happened, Peterson said.
Marysville finance director Sandy Langdon noted that for the first time retail taxes are bringing in more cash than property taxes, historically the largest source of municipal revenue, so missing the money from one project for one year wont cause problems on the city ledger.
I dont estimate revenue for stores that are not open, Langdon said.
Dean Fink lives right next to the proposed Marysville site and has fought it tooth-and-nail, criticizing the proposed store before the city hearing examiner. He wasnt encouraged by the delay. He has fought the Wal-Mart and a housing development surrounding the home he built himself on his four-acre spread, where he cleared the old-growth timber himself.
At 53 years old, Fink said he wont move until he can retire and isnt happy about the stores driveway onto a new street. The planned 87th Street access will flood his neighborhood with cars and noise, and the Washington State Department of Transportation wont put in a stoplight at the intersection until 2012. A nearby housing project wont tie in to that street, causing more problems for Fink. He has faced pressure to sell from many different sources over the last few years but plans to stay put.
Im pretty well connected to this place and if they think they are going to smoke me out they are wrong, Fink said.
WSDOT spokeswoman Megan Soptich said stoplights at 83rd Street NE and at a new 87th Street NE have already been approved and will be built by the store developer when it is built.