August 30, 2004
Mike Valentine doesn’t see a need for Wal-Mart to open a store in the Gilbert Town Square shopping center. He points to the Target store two miles east, the planned SuperTarget four miles south and a planned Wal-Mart Supercenter five miles away.
"I’m not a big Wal-Mart fan," the Gilbert resident said.
Valentine and others will have an opportunity today and Tuesday to comment on the Arkansas-based retail giant’s plans to open a scaled-down Supercenter in a shopping center southwest of Gilbert and Warner roads.
A marketing brochure touts the shopping center as a "mixed-use urban center designed to create Gilbert’s new downtown area."
The meetings will give area residents the first opportunity to see and comment on Wal-Mart’s proposal, which has not been filed with the town. Wal-Mart spokesman Pete Kanelos said a third neighborhood meeting will be held, but the date has not been set.
"Our hope is people will come with an open mind to hear about the store before forming an opinion," Kanelos said.
The few e-mails on the subject to elected officials have unanimously opposed the store’s plans.
Kanelos said the Supercenter will be 99,500 square feet, about half the size of a typical store.
He said the company is testing the concept in Utah and Florida, but this will be the first in Arizona. The store will not have a tire and auto lube facility and will have fewer product options, he said.
Mike Clements of Triple Five Group of Companies, the developer of Gilbert Town Square, said Wal-Mart is a consistent use for the commercial and retail shopping center and will match the center’s aesthetics.
Clements said he has heard both positive and negative comments so far about the plan.
"We’re not saying, ‘Let’s take a box that didn’t fit across the street and move it over here,’ " said Clements, referring to Wal-Mart’s failed attempt to locate on the southeast corner of Gilbert and Warner roads. "Their design mirrors what we’ve already taken through the Gilbert Design Review Board and what the city likes."
Town officials and neighborhood residents opposed the previous Wal-Mart proposal. The latest proposal will ultimately need Town Council approval.
What: Wal-Mart neighborhood meetings When: 6 to 8 p.m. today and Tuesday Where: Mesquite Junior High School, 130 W. Mesquite St., Gilbert