business news in context, analysis with attitude

  • Wal-Mart is facing opposition in the Denver area as it looks to open its first Neighborhood Market in Colorado.

    The location is the Highlands Garden Village in the Denver area, where the company wants to open a 39,000 square foot store that, according to the Rocky Mountain News, will “blend in” with the architecture and character of the neighborhood.”

    More than 6,000 signatures have been gathered on a petition looking to stop the development. Opponents say they want a store half that size; the developer, with some justification, replies that nobody is building 20,000 square foot supermarkets these days.

    However, Highlands Garden Village isn’t just any old neighborhood. On the developer’s website, it is described as “a mixed-use development consisting of environmentally responsible ("green") single-family houses, townhouses, market rate and affordable senior and multifamily apartments, cohousing, office and retail spaces, set within a pedestrian friendly fabric of parks and walkways. The proximity of different uses encourages people to walk; the location near downtown and on bus lines improves travel convenience at reduced cost.

    “The environmental and social qualities of the plan begin with its urban infill location. Its place-making master plan, broad mix of uses, "green" public realm, and "green" buildings provide a model for the re-use of vacated urban sites including declining malls, brownfields and other infill sites.”

    Which would seem to place the bar pretty high for Wal-Mart.

KC's View:
The developer is right – nobody builds 20,000 square foot supermarkets anymore.

But we suspect that the real problem here isn’t the size. It’s the name of the company that would be over the door.

It sounds like the folks who live in Highlands Garden Village simply didn’t sign on to live in a community that would have a Wal-Mart; based on our reading of the description, it sounds like they wanted exactly the opposite.

Do they have the right to make that choice? Especially when the building of a Neighborhood Market could attract a lot of the traffic that they moved there to avoid?

Sounds reasonable to us.