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The Rolla Daily News - Rolla, MO
  • Walmart seeks rezoning for Neighborhood Market

  • Big-box retailer Walmart, pushing this year to build hundreds more of its small-box Neighborhood Markets, has asked that a tract of land just shy of 8 acres be rezoned next to the roundabout at 18th Street and Forum Drive.
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  • Big-box retailer Walmart, pushing this year to build hundreds more of its small-box Neighborhood Markets, has asked that a tract of land just shy of 8 acres be rezoned next to the roundabout at 18th Street and Forum Drive.
    That might have an effect on the plans of a group of developers who want to expand the Country Mart store in the Forum Plaza just down the street, as well as renovate the entire shopping center, City Administrator John Butz told the Rolla City Council Monday night.
    Nevertheless, Butz said, Super Market Developers Inc., after he informed them of the Walmart application, told the city to continue with the preliminary funding agreement for the shopping center redevelopment.
    Monday night, the council heard first reading of an ordinance that would begin the formation of a redevelopment plan as authorized by Chapter 353 of the Missouri state statutes. That section of the state law allows a city to redevelop blighted areas by granting tax abatements and other such exemptions.
    Butz said Super Market Developers Inc. has hired Development Initiatives, a Kansas City company, to do a blight study, necessary to deem the shopping center as blighted and allow the city to use Chapter 353 to abate the real estate taxes on the shopping center.
    A public hearing would be required for the tax abatement, and the ordinance outlines the requirements to be fulfilled for that public hearing. The tax abatement would affect other political subdivisions, such as the school district, as well as the city.
    Separate from this part of the plan for Forum Plaza, but related would be the formation of a community improvement district, which would collect a sales tax to pay for the redevelopment.
    Butz said the shopping center developers want to go ahead with the plan even though Walmart appears intent on building a competing supermarket less than a mile away. The Chapter 353 plan and the community improvement district are in the early stages.
    The city has received $25,000 from Super Market Developers to be used to pay for the work in setting up the redevelopment plan.
    In a February 2014 report, Time magazine noted that Walmart’s small stores were performing financially better than the big-box stores, so Walmart stepped up its plans to build more of the small stores this year.
    “Among other factors, Walmart blamed cuts in food stamp benefits, rising payroll taxes, and unemployment as reasons its core (low-income) customers were cutting back on their regular trips to Walmart supercenters and stock up on groceries, clothing, and other wants and needs,” Time reported. “Instead of large, once-a-week shopping excursions, pinched consumers have been more inclined to periodically pick up just a few essentials in stores in their neighborhoods—supermarkets, drugstores, and, perhaps most importantly, dollar stores.”
    Page 2 of 2 - Bill Simon, Walmart U.S. president and CEO, said in a press release about the big push for small stores: “Customers’ needs and expectations are changing. They want to shop when they want and how they want, and we are transforming our business to meet their expectations ... Customers appreciate the broad assortment of our supercenters for their stock-up trips as well as our small store formats for fill-in trips.”
    According to Time, Walmart is targeting three stores that have offered Walmart’s customers more convenient locations, and all three of those companies operate in Rolla: Family Dollar (located in the Forum Plaza), Dollar General and Dollar Tree.
    Time magazine quoted a financial website, The Motley Fool: “As the Motley Fool put it, Walmart’s small store expansion amounts to announcing its intention to ‘kill dollar stores.’ ”

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