First Posted: 1/15/2014
ST. PAULS —Walmart wants to locate one of its “neighborhood grocery” stores in St. Pauls, a town official confirmed last week.
The developer for the Walmart project,Bohler Engineering of Raleigh, submitted site plans to the town on Tuesday, according to Town Administrator J.R. Steigerwald.
The plans call for the proposed 43,000-square-foot facility to be built behind the McDonald’s restaurant on Broad Street. The store would include a pharmacy, but there would be no gasoline sold at the site, according to the plans.
It had been rumored that Walmart planned to build a store in St. Pauls, but town officials were unsure until Tuesday.
“The Walmart store has been one of the worst-kept secrets in town,” Steigerwald said. “Now we know.”
Steigerwald said the next step will be for the developers to gain a conditional-use permit to build a retail store in an area zoned for hospitality businesses. That hearing is planned for Feb. 3 at 7 p.m. in courtroom at the St. Pauls Municipal Building.
“We chose a larger space for the hearing because we expect there to be a lot of interest,” Steigerwald said. “We imagine that there will be some opposition from people afraid that the store will hurt existing businesses.”
He added that residents living near the proposed store may also be concerned about traffic and congestion.
“People living on South Wilkerson may be very opposed to this because the store can be accessed by that road,” Steigerwald said. “But commercial trucks will be routed to N.C. 20 only. If this is approved, we will make sure that neighborhood is not overrun by commercial delivery trucks.”
The neighborhood grocery is one of two small-store concepts that is being pushed by Walmart for areas too small to support a traditional superstore. The other concept is the Walmart Express, one of which is located in Red Springs.
The retail giant announced in September that it planned to open 500 of the smaller stores within 18 months. That is up from about 290 smaller Walmart stores.
The stores are meant to compete directly with grocery stores, discount/dollar stores and drug stores.
Steigerwald said he expects the grocery store to add about $2 million to St. Pauls’ tax base if approved.