A defunct Subaru car dealership near the corner of Memorial Drive and Hairston Road is the proposed site of a new Walmart in DeKalb County.
With a 2013 projected opening, plans call for the 148,000-square-foot store to have a grocery department, pharmacy and garden center. The store will not contain a gas station or tire/lube center.
“We are constantly looking for new ways to service the customer,” said Glenn Wilkins, a senior manager of public affairs and governmental relations for Wal-Mart Stores, Inc.
The store, which would be the second Walmart on Memorial Drive, would create approximately 300 jobs, mostly fulltime, and “help revitalize the community by bringing additional retail back into the community,” Wilkins said.
The Decatur Walmart, which is approximately 29,000 square feet larger than the proposed store, opened in March 2008 at the site of the old Avondale Mall.
“I believe we’re serving a different market,” Wilkins said of the 5-mile distance between the two stores. “It’s an opportunity to serve that customer in that market.
“We’ve had a lot of positive response so far from the community,” Wilkins said.
Commissioner Sharon Barnes Sutton said the presence of the new Walmart should attract other businesses to the area.
“It’s going to bring jobs to our community,” Sutton said. “It’s going to improve the tax base and it’s an opportunity to direct the traffic down Memorial Drive.”
Andrew Baker, the county’s interim director for planning and sustainability, said he hopes the store will spur more renovations and investments along Memorial Drive.
Wilkins said the company has applied for a zoning variance with DeKalb County to ensure the proper parking ratio for the store. Walmart is planning to hold community meetings, yet to be announced, to present its plans to residents.
“Here is an opportunity,” Baker said. “The community can rally behind it. Or you have the choice that you can show up at that meeting and say ‘we don’t want it.’”
Nick Goebeler, head of the Memorial Drive Merchants Association, said there are many good reasons to support Walmart’s new store.
“I think anything that brings jobs to Memorial Drive and increases traffic to Memorial Drive is good for the corridor,” Goebeler said.