Continued misrepresentations in press coverage about Wal-mart and DC
Walmart originally announced plans for 5 stores in DC , then added a 6th store in consultation with the DC Government. Half of the stores--all the stores under construction currently--are to be placed in what we would call "higher income areas" of DC; two of the other stores are in Ward 7.
The first Ward 7 store is to be close to the DC-Maryland border on East Capitol Street; the other store would be at Skyland, a proposed redevelopment of a shopping center on Good Hope Road SE, right on the border of the wards, so that Ward 8 is immediately across the street--personally I think the desire to build this shopping center, while honorable, is a stretch, and will put other existing shopping centers at Congress Heights and the Good Hope Marketplace, at risk, because there isn't enough economic demand to support all three locations.
The other location was to be at New York and Montana Avenues NE, on the commuting out of the city side of the road. But two weeks ago it was announced that this project wouldn't be going forward. While that area is industrial and gnarly looking, it's arguable that it's severely economically distressed.
So only 40%, or two, of the Wal-mart locations in DC are to serve distressed areas, and it is questionable that the Skyland location will ever open. And for that matter, we don't know when the East Capitol Street NE store will get underway.
Therefore, the statement in this column, "In DC, Wal-Mart job seekers want work. Any work.," by Post writer Petula Dvorak severely mis-states the reality of Wal-mart's entry into the city:
In the District, Wal-Mart isn’t killing off mom-and-pop stores and sweet little groceries. It is going into places that have nothing and have had nothing for decades. And it is providing an anchor for other redevelopment to follow.
The Wal-mart on Georgia Avenue is up the street from two Safeways. The Wal-mart on H St. NW is close to a Harris-Teeter, a Giant, and two Safeways. The store that will be on Riggs Road NE is about one-half mile from a Giant Supermarket, albeit just over the border in Maryland (and in fact until the 1990s the store was once located where the Fort Totten mixed use development is being constructed).
Plus, Wal-mart's business model doesn't support their being termed an "anchor," because retail anchors support other retailers. Wal-mart's business model is to capture as much as 100% of the spending of customers--that doesn't leave any room for spending at nearby businesses.
While the stores likely will be a source of jobs for low-income residents, it will be a hike for most low income residents to get to the store, and serving low income residents, based on the majority of the locations for the stores, shouldn't be touted as a reason to welcome the company into DC.