Wal-Mart Puts Smiley Faces on Neighbors

Wal-Mart shrinks, and neighbors rejoice

Finally, neighbors of Northcross Mall have something to celebrate.

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.

In response, the Allandale Neighborhood Association and the activist group Responsible Growth for Northcross announced they will drop appeals of the separate lawsuits they lost last year against the city of Austin and Lincoln Property, trying to block the store's construction.

In a press release, Wal-Mart's senior manager of public affairs and governmental relations, Lisa Elledge, announced: "As part of a nationwide effort and changing business model, Wal-Mart has been reevaluating store sizes throughout the country to enhance the value and service for every community. ... The new Northcross Wal-Mart would be approximately 99,000 square feet in size and would become a single level building with surface parking. [It] would have many of the same physical features that were approved in the current site plan and would still bring groceries and general merchandise to the underserved Northcross area."

It's not perfect, says RG4N, but after its legal defeats, the group apparently thinks that cup now looks half-full. "We still think a mixed-use development is the ideal for that location, but at least their new plan is something that can work without hurting the surrounding neighborhoods and small businesses," said RG4N President Hope Morrison in a statement. "With this news, we feel very confident that the Northcross matter will be resolved without further legal action and look forward to working with the developer as the project moves forward."

"That's fine with Allandale," said ANA President Tom Linehan in an e-mail to ANA members. "We've never opposed a Wal-Mart going into Northcross, we've opposed a SuperCen­ter going in there. It has been a long, hard and costly effort trying to keep a SuperCenter out. Allandale can't handle the traffic and it's a threat to existing businesses. ... It's satisfying knowing that Allandale will not be known as the only Austin central city neighborhood with a SuperCenter."

Details of the revised construction are forthcoming, says Elledge: "Wal-Mart is currently working to complete the modifications to the Northcross project. As soon as Wal-Mart and Lincoln Properties have finalized the site plan for the new Wal-Mart, the parties intend to provide more details to the City of Austin and the surrounding neighborhoods."

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KEYWORDS FOR THIS STORY

Wal-Mart, Responsible Growth for Northcross, Allandale Neighborhood Association, Lincoln Property

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