Friday, December 03, 2004

Wal-Mart to build Super Center in Mid-Town Portsmouth

According the sources, the City of Portsmouth is in the final leg of negotiations with Wal-Mart for a new "Super Center" in Portsmouth. The new store would be in "Mid-City" (that business area near the intersection of High Street & London Boulevard and Airline Boulevard & Frederick Boulevard).

The Wal-Mart will be across the street from the new Home Depot. The construction of the new Home Depot, announced this past October, will start in 2005 on the site of the old I.C. Norcom school on Frederick Boulevard (See the posting from October here). Wal-Mart will be built across the street at the now vacant Mid-City Shopping Center.

A little up Airline Boulevard is the recently opened Lowe's which has put a dent in the business of three local hardware stores in the vicinity, including my favorites Robbies and Dails. I can only imagine what Home Depot will do. And, frankly, I can only imagine what Wal-Mart will do to locally-owned businesses.

Portsmouth is surrounded by huge Wal-Marts (Chesapeake Square & northern Suffolk to name two), but until now Wal-Mart has stayed outside the City limits, to the dispair of some people and the thankfulness of others. All that's about to change as Wal-Mart proceeds with their strategic plan of putting Wal-Marts every 4-7 miles and in moving into city centers.

Noted the Virginian Pilot recently,
The Olde Towne association is joining forces with Midtown businesses now on a more aggressive marketing strategy.

In his letter to the city, Kenneth Woolard (president of the The Olde Towne Business Association) raised the specter of competition from the big-box retailers the city has courted for the Midtown area as one reason for the united front.

For years now, small businesses have been the biggest part of Portsmouth’s retail offerings.

In October, the city announced that Home Depot would build on the former I.C. Norcom High School site across from the old, partly demolished MidCity Shopping Center. There also has been talk of a Super Wal-Mart coming to the area.

“While the business community welcomes these type of announcements, their degree of concern is understandable,” Woolard wrote.
Yeh, ain't that the truth. Members of the City government, both elected and professional staff, seem to have turned a blind eye to local, home-grown businesses. A senior member of the Cities economic development team noted to one local, small business retailer,
Sometimes we just have sacrifice the old in order to get the new.
Damn, what a great attitude. ;-)

For nearly as long as I've lived here, Portsmouth has had in inferiority complex. Unwarranted, I might add. While we have plenty to offer, we seem to be envious of our neighbors. Norfolk has had great success with the MacArthur Mall, a development that many thought would be a white elephant. Suffolk is having huge success -- perhaps over success -- with development in the north end of their wide-open city. Chesapeake continues to grow, booming particularly in the southern parts of the city. And, we here in Portsmouth have trodded on, making the City a better place a little at a time, locally.

A Mid-City Wal-Mart will never be a destination like the MacArthur Mall. Economic prosperity does not come from having big box stores in your midst. Economic prosperity comes from having a thriving economy based on providing goods, services, and jobs to your community. Wal-Mart and Home Depot, at least in the eyes of many locals, will only continue to drain our resources, sending profits far out of town. Buy local is not a mantra heard around big box executives. And, it seems, it's not a mantra heard around members of our City Council or the Department of Economic Development.

No comments:

Post a Comment