Nearly 200 residents were on hand Nov. 2 to hear plans for a proposed Walmart planned for the Surburban Plaza on North Decatur Road.
Glenn Wilkins, a senior manager of public affairs and governmental relations for Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. presented conceptual plans for the proposed 150,000-square-foot store which would have groceries, a deli, pharmacy and an optical center. Parking for the store would be an underground garage.
Wilkins stressed that the plans were not finalized.
“If you don’t like it, don’t get married to it,” Wilkins said.
At the meeting sponsored by the Medlock Area Neighborhood Association, some residents voiced concerns about the impact on other nearby Walmart stores. One is located five miles away on Memorial Drive near Avondale Estates and one is seven miles away in Tucker.
Walmart recently announced plans to construct another store six miles away near the corner of Memorial Drive and Hairston Road.
“We’ll probably impact the other stores,” Wilkins said. “But we don’t think it’s going to be substantial. If we thought it were substantial, we would not be here today proposing this to you.
“I can assure you we will not be shutting down other stores,” Wilkins said. “They were too expensive to build in the first place.”
As proposed, Walmart would be the anchor store in a renovated Suburban Plaza.
Steve Selig, president of Selig Enterprises which owns Suburban Plaza, said his company has been working for seven to eight years to revitalize the shopping center.
Developed by his grandfather in 1960s, Surburban Plaza was once probably the leading shopping center in the area after Lenox Square, Selig said.
“We know that it has deteriorated and we’re not proud of that fact,” Selig said.
Selig said his company is talking to or has letters of interest from other retailers including Staples, HH Gregg, Michael’s, Dick’s Sporting Goods, LA Fitness, Home Goods and buybuy Baby.
“We want make all of those, but we will make some of them and that’s the kind of quality set-up that we expect to bring into the area,” Selig said.
Selig predicted that the improved development, which will increase by 30,000 square feet, is expected to add 600-800 jobs to the community and spur redevelopment in the corridor.
“As far as I can see, this is really a win-win,” Selig said. “It’s a win for the neighborhood. It’s a win for DeKalb County. It’s going to create jobs. It’s going to create more tax revenue.”
“This is the best thing that we could do for this neighborhood,” Selig said.
Selig said his family-owned company plans to continue to own the plaza after it is developed.
“We don’t build to sell,” Selig said. “We build to hold. We’ve owned it for 50 years. We will hopefully own it for another 50 years.”
The crowd laughed when Selig said development would have a minimum effect on traffic.
To go forward the development would need a parking variance from the county. Currently, the shopping center has 3.8 spaces per 1,000 square feet of floor space. The developers want 3.91 spaces per 1,000. County regulations require 5.5 spaces per 1,000. The county commission is expected to consider granting the variance in its Dec. 14 meeting.