Sunday, April 03, 2005

Wal-Mart Coming to Syracuse

deseretnews.com Syracuse looks over Wal-Mart plans

Take a look at the Deseret News story link above on Wal-Mart coming to Syracuse. Quite a contrast from Wal-Mart proposals in Centerville and Sandy, though there still apprears to be opposition.

Anti-Wal-Mart mania is an interesting phenomenon going on around the country. I do believe that in many instances, Wal-Mart has had an overall negative effect on community business districts. Who really likes those big sterile parking lots, the big box building, the minimal landscaping, etc.? But people sure do seem to like going there to shop, probably mainly for the prices. And most communities have zoning ordinances in place that allow for such developments, and its downright illegal to stop or prevent Wal-Marts from coming in if they meet the existing code.

That's why Syracuse's experience should be watched closely. Wal-Mart is proposing to locate on a large tract of vacant land that the city did extensive planning for as a town center (sound familiar, Centerville folks?) Only in this case, the city has adopted standards for town center development. How will Wal-Mart fit into such plans? In my conversations with the Mayor and with city planner Roger Worthen, they are working hard to make that happen, and it just may. Wal-Mart as part of a new town center? Interesting idea! Keep watching!

14 Comments:

At 4:01 PM, Blogger Fred Aegerter said...

I guess the thing I find most interesting is the question of which big box it is going to be. I have heard so many stories about trying to accommodate a specific big box and ending up with another and then the city (or citizens) begin the battle with the company that will actually be developing the property. I have hear several where the development was rezoned for Costco and then Walmart came in. In terms of impact I have a very hard time differentiating between the two. I have a friend in the Chicago burbs who said that their town would go crazy if a Sam's Club came, but Costco is very acceptable. Good luck justifying one over the other to a judge. People need to consider the range of possibilities when they rezone property.

 
At 8:55 PM, Blogger Planski said...

This issue has been at the front of my mind for so long. While I watch a City borrow against its future, re-allocate CIP money, expedite, waive fees, ignore Master Plans, re-write codes, forget others, etc. to give large Utah commercial developers money. Smaller developers or local businesses can't push the right buttons and have to adhere to all the codes and plans and lose their places in line for review. Why? Sales tax, they say. Who says? City Admin.? City Council? Citizens? It isn't the citizens. They will have something to say when all of their existing deficiencies are put off a few more years to pad the pockets of the big boxers, or when impact fees are eventually raised to offset the huge fee waivers given to those who do not need then. Don't get me wrong, I am American and business and capitalism are in my blood, too. But, America is also supposed to be some sort of fair playing field, and government is supposed to represent all the interests, for the long term, not just now. Good luck with the Town Center, all good plans must end eventually...its just a matter of how much money it takes to forget them.

 
At 3:19 PM, Blogger Planner Perplexed said...

Omigosh. Fred is right. You can't discriminate between big boxes. If you let one in, you've got to let in the others. Most people I know prefer Super Target over Costco, Costco over Sam's and Sam's over Wal Mart. But whats the diff except for logos, really? The impact is virtually the same. Oodles of traffic, oceans of mostly unused parking lots, excessive lighting, extended operating hours, cheap wages, cheap merchandise (ok, I admit it I shop there once in a while) and vacant storefronts.

To Planski: When will we see the light in Utah? Planning in Utah to some extent is an OXYMORON.

We let developers plan our cities and towns while we sit back with our pride and arrogance and think we have "community".

Nothing could be further from the truth. I think we have a very limited view of what community is or we have lost track of it.

Most cities in Utah only have houses and wardhouses. Except for Gateway (thanks Boyer, et al) there is nothing to speak of in terms of cool gathering places where people can go just to relax and watch other people, mingle, window shop, take in a movie, eat or just laze around. Every town ought to have a plaza or square where some or most of the activities above can happen. So why don't we? There are lots of reasons, but primarily I think it is weak elected officials leading even an even weaker populace. Master plans are indeed bought off by big box interests and Mayors/Councils are duped into thinking that "zoning for dollars" planning is what their towns need or want.

What do I mean by ZFD? Well, just look around and see the cities that are fighting their residents over big boxes. Sandy, Centerville and Ogden to name a few. It's tragic when cities ignore innovative and creative land use patterns in favor of auto driven development only.

The continuing fight over every bit of tax revenue is detrimental to good planning. Some cities like Centerville have scuttled or ignored master plans that called for alluring and enduring development to capture the big box.

 
At 10:26 AM, Blogger Planski said...

Perhaps we should just turn it all over to Ivory and Boyer, since they are just responding the market. The "market" does know best, you know, not the people who live there. That has worked well across the world, why not here. Look at all the shining examples of it. Wait, I am late for my Costco run...it is busy on Saturdays.

 
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