The Contemporary Austin at the Jones Center
"...It wasn't entirely clear who commissioned it, but somebody who supports the proposed Wal-Mart at Northcross Mall is push-polling the neighbors of the moribund shopping center. "Push-polling," for those not familiar with the term, is a polling technique where the pollster presents the pollee with a statement – sometimes factual, but not necessarily – that is meant to prejudice the answers. It is a technique used when the entity commissioning the poll wants to produce a certain result, and not one used by reputable pollsters who are trying to accurately guage actual public opinion. So after seeing some 1-800 number come up on my caller ID for the fifth (!) time today, I decided to answer and ask them to leave me the hell alone...."
"...How does Wal-Mart prove that it doesn't mistreat its workers? By firing a model employee with an inoperable brain tumor after finding out he uses medi-pot, that's how...."
"...But if it's a fake, then his doppelgänger's got McCracken's mannerisms – his talking points, the bloviation, the hepcat-parlance he adopts for the kids – down to an almost frightening degree.) After dispensing crazy "props," MC Cracken breaks down the science at Northcross, yo: "1. The Council was told by Wal-Mart reps that the project was going to comply with the Design Standards and Mixed Use Ordinance when we were first told about this project the week before it hit the press..."
"...Activists with Responsible Growth for Northcross are celebrating today's announcement that Wal-Mart will scale down its planned store at Northcross Mall. The Beast From Bentonville announced that, due to a changing business model, the store will now be 99,000 square feet, down from 192,000 (and less than half of the 225,000 proposed at one point)...."
"...Someone's got something they want to see on next week's City Council agenda: "Responsible Growth for Northcross (RG4N) requests that City Council place Lincoln Property Company's second Northcross site plan application on the City Council agenda to review the site plan, information from traffic impact analyses and public testimony. RG4N further requests that the City Council vote to deny approval of the application, pursuant to Land Development Code 25-6-141 (A) and (B), due to the excessive burden this project will place upon local streets and arterials and its potential consequences to public safety." Moreover, the excitable fellows at RG4N breathlessly quote In Fact Daily's reporting that tomorrow, Wal-Mart will release revised square-footage numbers for the Northcross store – will it be something substantial or another PR ploy? If you're so inclined, you can talk about it at RG4N's meeting tonight: May 10, 7pm, at Grace Church of the Nazarene at 1006 W..."
"...Last night, Responsible Growth for Northcross sent out a press release, "Lincoln Property Company Breaks Pledge to Suspend Activities at Proposed Wal-Mart Site." No bulldozers are moving earth at the mall, but RG4N feels that Lincoln has reneged on its pledge to work over the moratorium toward a more mutually agreeable outcome. In the release, RG4N vice president Hope Morrison says "the process is still under way despite commitments from Lincoln and the City Council that the project would be put on hold to allow for neighborhood concerns to be addressed." Indeed, in an update to the city's Northcross Web page, an excerpt from Wal-Mart attorney Richard Suttle's letter to Council Member Mike Martinez says the store “would not file applications within the next 60-day period (ending Feb..."
"...Hard to believe that the shuttered Nuevo Leon restaurant – once a popular spot for Democratic campaign fundraisers and kickoffs – is now owned by an entity tied to the company that Austinites have battled for more than a decade: Wal-Mart...."
"...The e-mail sent out announcing Responsible Growth for Northcross’ town hall meeting Friday evening said, “Most of all, we want to hear from you tonight,” but the only one who actually fielded any questions from the audience was RG4N attorney Doug Young. Really, the meeting mostly just seemed to serve as a pep rally for the organization trying to stop the Wal-Mart proposed for the former Northcross Mall property, and to outline the plan going forward after losing the lawsuit that sought to force city to overturn the Wal-Mart’s approved site plan. That said, the 300 people in attendance seemed plenty willing to cheer RG4N’s leadership on, and left little doubt how they feel about their prospective new neighbor..."
"...At issue is whether the project qualified for the easier administrative approval process it received – which involves only staff reviews, with no input allowed by council or the public. ANA contends that a garden center within the planned Wal-Mart should have triggered a conditional-use-permit process – which requires Planning Commission review and a public hearing and allows appeal to council for a final decision..."
"...After weeks on end of paint-drying bureaucratic tedium and yawn-inducing dispatches from The Zoning Zone so boring Jeff Jack himself wouldn't touch them if they involved a drive-thru porn and liquor emporium opening in the base of a 600-foot point tower on West Lynn Street, could next week's City Council meeting – the last of the year – finally provide any modicum of intrigue or excitement? Looks that way. Thank God (or Wal-Mart) – it's the Christmas Miracle!..."
"...With Council seemingly going into hibernation early, the only fireworks prior to today's Redeemer zoning debate at 4pm (Hi Rich!) was an unexpected, ad hoc debate on the proposed "urban" Wal-Mart at Northcross Mall. Bloodletting, really..."
"...Elaborating on a comment he left here, bilious blogger M1EK writes that of all the reasons to oppose the Northcross Wal-Mart, decrying it for not being on the freeway is a non-starter. Instead, in order to honor those hallowed goals of pedestrian friendliness, incorporated into the design standards ordinance and elsewhere, it makes more sense to put it at a location like Northcross – a place with a transfer center, on a major arterial..."
"...If Wal-Mart and its developers have their way, the city Zoning and Platting Commission will be fast-forwarding its action on a proposed South Austin Supercenter and delivering a zoning vote on Tuesday -- three weeks ahead of schedule...."
"...One huge point of contention is that developer Lincoln Property Company has signed a lease with Wal-Mart as the anchor tenant; it plans to build a 24-hour, 219,629-square-foot Supercenter the largest store ever for Travis County, right next to homes in an established neighborhood. Another is that the developer's uninspired plop-in-the-parking-lot Northcross Center design does not meet the quality level defined by the city's new Design Standards & Mixed Use Ordinance..."
"...When it canceled its plans to build a Supercenter over the aquifer, Wal-Mart may have thought that little else would stand in the way of its blueprint for the rest of Austin. But a spin-off coalition of local business and community activists has emerged to become the newest thorn in the retailer's side...."
"...I recently attended my South River City Citizens neighborhood association meeting. Wal-Mart hate-speech dominated the meeting, typified by member Mark Nathan's contribution, "I hate Wal-Mart." If everyone had replaced the word "Wal-Mart" with "nigger," perhaps the discourse would have resembled when the first African-American moved into Travis Heights, if any ever have..."
"...While attending the recent International Council of Shopping Centers spring convention in Las Vegas two weeks ago, it appears that developers Endeavor Real Estate Group weren't just marketing the Domain, their proposed North Austin urban retail village project. Last week, says Council Member Daryl Slusher, a local developer who also attended the ICSC convention gave him a copy of a flyer distributed there by Endeavor advertising seven retail "pad sites" surrounding the 29-acre site Endeavor is selling to Wal-Mart for a proposed Supercenter..."
"...Yes, there's still going to be a Wal-Mart on the site of the former Northcross Mall. In fact, it's under construction right now..."
"...While Mayor Will Wynn considers the possibility of offering financial carrots to woo Wal-Mart off of the aquifer, a coalition of big-box opponents are considering moving forward on another time-honored strategy: filing a lawsuit...."
"...South Austin residents have until Dec. 4 to try to make the best of what almost looks like an inevitable situation: the addition of a Wal-Mart Supercenter -- and all of its trappings -- to the 78704 ZIP code...."
"...On Monday, Wal-Mart announced that it plans to reduce the size of its planned supercenter at the mall to 99,000 square feet, almost half of the previously proposed 192,000 or the 225,000 square feet that had been discussed at one point...."
"...Dear Editor, I was impressed that you published a letter defending Wal-Mart [Postmarks, Dec. 29], as this point of view would seem to be in opposition to the stances of you and your readers..."
"...Wal-Mart's decision last year to yank its incendiary plans to build a supersized big box over the aquifer provided only a temporary lull in one of the largest and most successful environmental mobilization efforts in recent years. Get ready for Round Two...."
"...To the Chron readers and staff, Yes, Wal-Mart is not the best company to work for, and yes, the "Beast," as Mr. Madison calls it ["Austin@Large," Oct..."
"...A Northcross neighbor writes in, describing a curious new mailer: Neighborhoods around Northcross are being sent direct mail that essentially has the response options of yes I want Wal-Mart and yes I REALLY want Wal-Mart. The cover has a picture of the garden next to the parking garage with a footbridge over a brook. Inside are more pictures and some redundant bullet points on how this will be the first time Wal-Mart has ever put in this sort of structure in the U.S. There's a tear-off reply card that says in large letters: Yes, I agree..."
"...Has anyone who laments the demise of small-town America been outside of a major metropolitan area? Small towns have been in decline for decades because the communities have been evaporating as our entire society shifts away from an agrarian base. Did Wal-Mart cause this tectonic shift in the U.S..."
"...I recently learned that Wal-Mart is planning the construction of a new Wal-Mart Supercenter at the corner of I-35 and Slaughter Lane. I am writing to voice my opposition to the proposed zone change on the property referred to as Park Ridge..."
"...So there was at least one thing everyone at the Northcross/Wal-Mart trial (except perhaps the drainage engineers who testified) could agree on...."
"...In Austin, sometimes it's déjà vu all over again... Take our wild and wooly Wal-Mart quiz!!! Roll-back your thinking caps and fill in the blanks in this statement from the mayor! For extra points, name when it was made! "I am not opposed to Wal-Mart doing business in Austin. Under the right circumstances, they are a welcome addition to our local economy..."
"...Hard to believe that the shuttered Nuevo Leon restaurant – once a popular spot for Democratic campaign fundraisers and kickoffs – is now owned by an entity tied to a company Austinites have battled for more than a decade: Wal-Mart...."
"...Dear Editor, As a native of Austin and 45-year resident of the wonderful neighborhood community of Allandale, located within Central Austin, I was outraged to hear Wal-Mart was taking over our quaint, family-friendly neighborhood. I am not an avid Wal-Mart shopper and don't intend to become one! Wal-Mart and Lincoln Properties' "bully" tactics will backfire! The foundation of this community was built on family-owned-and-operated businesses..."
"...Dear Editor, This is a reply to V.J. Asensio’s letter on the "Witch-Hunt of Wal-Mart" [Postmarks, Dec..."
"...Dear Editor, I’m almost afraid to say that I like Wal-Mart. Since I make so much money as an elementary school teacher, Wal-Mart works for my budget..."
"...Dear Editor, As a nearby resident (of Northwest Hills) and a frequent user of Anderson Lane businesses (at least three times/week), I strongly oppose allowing any kind of oversized big-box development at Northcross Mall. A Wal-Mart in that location would be disastrous to the many established, unique, and needed small businesses in the surrounding area..."
"...That was only because I desperately needed motor oil for my car. I can live without Wal-Mart and so can anyone else. But it is obvious that Wal-Mart is welcome..."
"...A proposed Wal-Mart Supercenter at I-35 and Slaughter Lane threatens to displace low-income residents of a tumbledown trailer park, but a state law that took effect last year could buy them more time and trump the landowners' wishes to have them gone by Sept. 15...."
"...I don't have to inform you about the environmental impact of building the proposed Wal-Mart within a recharge zone. Austinites already know this..."
"...As Garcia's point person on the environment, Slusher has suggested that the new city policy include provisions to deny tax rebates and incentives to companies that don't comply with water-quality ordinances protecting the aquifer. Such a policy would exclude Endeavor, which is selling a 43-acre tract of land in the Barton Springs Recharge Zone to Wal-Mart for a new SuperCenter..."
"...That's the skeptical message presented by Leffingwell's challenger Jason Meeker, who argues that Leffingwell has fallen short. Meeker points most specifically to the shortcomings of Leffingwell (and the rest of the council) in the fight to prevent the construction of a Wal-Mart at Northcross Mall...."
"...Responsible Growth for Northcross has lost its lawsuit against the construction of a Wal-Mart on the former Northcross Mall property by Dallas-based Lincoln Property Co. RG4N sued the city on the grounds that city staff had improperly approved Lincoln's site plan for the Wal-Mart Supercenter without considering the project's impact on public safety, traffic, and flood drainage, as required by city ordinance..."
"...The first favorable consequence of the proposed Wal-Mart Supercenter at Northcross although entirely unintended was delivered last Thursday night at City Council. Somewhere around midnight (I suppose dedicated council-watchers should be pleased it wasn't 3am), the council voted to enact a new Big-Box Ordinance that would require more public and more detailed review of proposed retail stores in excess of 100,000 square feet..."
"...The Environmental Board leery of another controversy over a Wal-Mart and recent evidence of construction silt runoff issues at another nearby retail construction site has shuffled a routine cut-and-fill (slope excavation) request for the proposed North Austin Wal-Mart superstore to the Environmental Board's Bull Creek Watershed subcommittee...."
"...I buy my home-improvement stuff from a giant chain, I buy my provisions from a relatively large grocery chain, and I eat fast food from a small chain. I don't shop at Wal-Mart..."
"...Wal-Mart wants to conquer the Edwards Aquifer with one of its famously huge supercenters on nearly 30 acres of land in the sensitive recharge zone. The property, at the northeast corner of MoPac and Slaughter Lane, comes with the benefit of zoning already in place, and it's exempt from the Save Our Springs Ordinance because of a 1996 city-negotiated settlement with the previous owner..."
"...On a related matter, opponents of two proposed Wal-Marts are asking the council to postpone two zoning cases today on a Supercenter at I-35 and Slaughter Lane, and another on Ben White near I-35. The Zoning and Platting Commission last week approved both items, but the ZAP also asked the council to consider commissioning a study on the economic and social impact of Wal-Mart's proposed expansion plans in Austin...."
"...I was only successful in reaching Jason Meeker, communications chair for RG4N. In its suit, RG4N asserted the city of Austin did not follow its own rules in approving Lincoln Property's site plan to build a Wal-Mart on the former Northcross Mall property; in her Dec..."
"...Even under editorial impresario Arnold Garcia's tortured, contorted reign, the Statesman's Important Screed today in defense of the new, "radically alter(ed)" Wal-Mart at Northcross is awful. Just godawful, an overflowing drool-cup of know-nothing, pseudo-centrist dribble that applauds the little people surrounding the mall for having made their positions oh so very clear – Wal-Mart even took away the gas station and lube center (although who in their right mind wouldn't want one of those in the neighborhood?) – but it's time for the grownups to get down to the business of commerce; you've had your word, and we've rewarded you with "a more pedestrian-friendly look," so, uhh, get lost: "Northcross gets a face-lift, Wal-Mart gets a more central location, shoppers get more choices and the city gets higher sales and property taxes..."
"...Ah, to be a Wal-Mart developer. Many perks with the gig, we're sure, but this has got to be one the most fun – sending letters to municipalities telling them to get bent shall they deviate from your wishes..."
"...Northcross neighbors' new strategy of needling council each week about the proposed Wal-Mart coming their way may be paying off, as faulty traffic-impact analyses – and any possible changes they may mean to the Northcross site plan – keep returning for discussion. As we reported last week: According to an article in the Institute of Transportation Engineers Journal, the traffic draw of 200,000-plus-square-foot supercenters is 5.5 trips per 1,000 square feet, compared to 3.9 trips for smaller stores..."
"...Dear Editor, In response to Josh Krause ["Postmarks," Jan. 12] and all the other letters that don't understand the outrage over Wal-Mart moving into Northcross Mall. I am a native of Austin, having lived in Central Austin near Northcross Mall for the last 27 years..."