Developer Drops Wal-Mart, Not Worth the Trouble

Discussion
Feb 24, 2005
George Anderson

By George Anderson


The proposed site for the first Wal-Mart in New York City will still be built, says the developer, it just won’t include a store from the company Sam built.


Vornado Realty Trust, which is developing a site in the Rego Park section of Queens, said it had decided to find other tenants for the site after protesters from various groups
came out against the proposed 132,000-square-foot Wal-Mart store.


Wal-Mart said it was still interested in opening a store in the Big Apple and was exploring other possibilities within the city. It was quick to point out that it never had a
formal agreement with Vornado to open a store on the Queens’ property.


Melinda Katz, chairwoman of the Council’s Land Use Committee, told The New York Times a Vornado representative informed her of the decision to drop Wal-Mart from the developer’s
plans yesterday.


“I think they just decided it’s not worth the complications of having Wal-Mart,” she said. “The idea of Wal-Mart was overshadowing what could very well be a good project.”


Richard Lipsky, a spokesperson for the Wal-Mart opposition group Neighborhood Retail Alliance, said, “We stopped Wal-Mart this time, but they are going to continue their efforts
to open in New York and we will be sure to meet that with significant opposition wherever else they try to locate.”


While Wal-Mart’s critics made the headlines with their organized and highly public opposition to the retailer, shoppers interviewed by the NYT were of different mindset.


“It would’ve been good if we had a Wal-Mart nearby because then we wouldn’t have to travel outside the area,” said Rolando Sands from Jamaica, Queens. “We’d be able to keep the
money in the Queens community instead of Long Island.”


Moderator’s Comment: If you’re Wal-Mart, where do you go from here in terms of gaining a foothold in New York City?


To give you an idea of some of what Wal-Mart is up against in New York, Helen Sears, the City Council member representing Rego Park had this to say to the
news that Vornado was looking for another tenant.


“I am hopeful that if Wal-Mart attempts to locate another site, whether in Queens or Brooklyn, the Bronx, Manhattan or Staten Island, that its officials
work tirelessly to improve workplace benefits and conditions so that New York City will welcome it with open arms,” she said. “Until then, we can only offer our backs.”


George Anderson – Moderator


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6 Comments on "Developer Drops Wal-Mart, Not Worth the Trouble"


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David Livingston
Guest
15 years 9 months ago

Some battles just aren’t worth the fight. However, I’m sure there are dozens more developers who would love to help Wal-Mart get into the city. Regardless, the NYC political machines and underworld elements will continue to try to shake down Wal-Mart so they can get a piece of the action.

I find it ironic that the biggest of victims of Wal-Mart not opening in NY are probably the protesters themselves.

Karen Kingsley
Guest
Karen Kingsley
15 years 9 months ago

It is heartening to see that consumers are willing to hold corporations to some standard. The perception of Wal-Mart as something less than a model citizen is pervasive in this country, but their pricing keeps shoppers returning. That some consumers chose to cut them off at the pass is, at least, an interesting way of asking companies to look closely at their operations and behave in a way that includes some form of neighborliness and integrity.

In a recent interview I conducted, a consumer said, “I know they’re the evil empire, but I’m cheap so I still shop at Wal-Mart.” If Target opens nearby, no one in the Rego Park area is going to miss Wal-Mart one bit. Their PR is bad and getting worse, and they are paying the price. Someone is going to capitalize on it.

Art Williams
Guest
Art Williams
15 years 9 months ago

The continuing and escalating bad press that Wal-Mart is receiving will ultimately lead to some form of governmental controls imposed on them, in my view. I have no idea what form that it will take. It could be taxing them differently to make up for their shortfall on healthcare and wages or it could be breaking them up like Ma Bell was. Or it could be like the Microsoft situation. But there is a growing concern that Wal-Mart is becoming too big, too far-reaching, and too monopolistic for our country’s good. As they continue to expand into additional areas like energy, for example, they will begin to concern an ever-expanding group of people that feel threatened by them and want some reform or controls placed on them. It will most likely require a different political party in power for that to happen, but at the present rate it seems inevitable to me. And I hate government controls but it seems like W-M’s pendulum is beginning to swing too far for our good.

Len Lewis
Guest
Len Lewis
15 years 9 months ago

There’s lots of real estate out there. Maybe Vornado walked away, other developers won’t. What really works in New York is politics. Borough politics here is like a little cottage industry. Wal-Mart will learn very quickly which politicians to grease. This is not to say that money is going to change hands. But New York politics is cutthroat–kind of like discount retailing–and local figures are always looking for corporate support.

As to where Wal-Mart might go–they’re gonna have to go up. In this city and the outer boroughs, vertical space is what’s going to give them what they need in square footage. And by the way, Rego Park is too busy an area for Wal-Mart to give up on. They will be back.

Carmen Liggett
Guest
Carmen Liggett
15 years 9 months ago

I go into a Wal-Mart 7 times each week; none of these times do I shop or make a purchase. I merchandise product in their stores. My opinion is this is the perfect opportunity for another retailer to run through this door left wide open. If Sears Grand were truly a serious project, here is a waiting consuming market. Less and less of the consuming public is in awe of Wal-Mart’s power and riches. They are being viewed as year-round Scrooge’s; ever hoarding their pennies from the peasants. Wal-Mart is looking more and more like the “company store” of long ago coal mines and steel mills.

Rick Moss
Guest
15 years 9 months ago

The article mentions that Wal-Mart is also working on multiple other locations within the five boroughs, and I’m sure those efforts haven’t skipped a beat due to this disappointment. In their further pursuits, it seems that that they would do best to excite some grassroots action from consumers who are hopeful of having Wal-Marts to shop in. If they can make it appear to the city fathers that consumers feel they are being denied the right to shop where they choose, they could turn the whole issue over on its head. Wal-Mart’s failing, it seems, is in fighting these things out at the top level, instead of getting the people behind them.

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