Rebuilding Place in the Urban Space

"A community’s physical form, rather than its land uses, is its most intrinsic and enduring characteristic." [Katz, EPA] This blog focuses on place and placemaking and all that makes it work--historic preservation, urban design, transportation, asset-based community development, arts & cultural development, commercial district revitalization, tourism & destination development, and quality of life advocacy--along with doses of civic engagement and good governance watchdogging.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Walmart as the neverending story #2: jobs and business closure

While the report that the ANC4B Large Tract Review Subcommittee submitted didn't do a full blown economic impact study because we didn't have the resources to do so, we did do a literature review and some imputation, and we recommended that the Office of Planning conduct or commission an independent economic analysis, as "mitigating negative neighborhood impacts" is one of the purposes of the Large Tract Review process.

-- Large Tract Review Committee Final Report and Summary Recommendations

We listed but didn't discuss the major finding that for every 2 jobs that Walmart creates, 3 jobs are lost.

Obviously then, 4 stores at 300 jobs = 1,200 "new jobs" at the cost of 1,800 jobs for a net loss of 600 jobs.

However, one can argue that the increased purchasing power brought on by lower prices from Walmart is a benefit that can be quantified, etc.

But the big thing that the elected officials have been pushing is "jobs." See "The elephant on the doorstep: What Wal-Mart’s arrival will mean to D.C." from the Capital Business section of the Washington Post.

Last week's Gazette reports in "Wegmans, Walmart shaking up Prince George’s grocery industry" about how the jobs at these businesses do come at a cost. From the article:

Safeway has announced the closure of three stores since May. Stores at 50 Watkins Park Drive in Upper Marlboro and 2346 Iverson St. in Temple Hills are scheduled to close July 9 and July 16, respectively, according to Craig M. Muckle, a spokesman for the Pleasanton, Calif., company. Safeway closed its store on Silver Hill in District Heights in May. The 125 displaced employees from the closing stores have been offered work at other Safeway locations, Muckle said.

Other Safeway stores, such as the one immediately next to the Walmart in Landover Hills have already closed. I think at least one Giant Food supermarket too.

The report we submitted opined that some Safeway stoers could close in Ward 4, or not open at all. For example there are two Safeway stores within a couple miles of the Walmart store, plus they have announced plans to open a store in the Riggs Road shopping center scheduled for construction at Fort Totten. I have also been told that their lease isn't being renewed for the Connecticut Avenue store in Chevy Chase, DC--but this is rumor and something I can't confirm.

There are tradeoffs and it will be interesting to see whether or not these tradeoffs will be recognized in the coming years.

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