Wal-Mart Details Plan For Residents

By MICHAEL H. SAMUELS, The Tampa Tribune

Published: July 14, 2007

SUN BAY SOUTH - Always low prices are coming to Gandy Boulevard.

Wal-Mart officials told more than 50 residents this week of plans for a 148,000-square-foot Supercenter with 625 parking spaces, at Gandy and Lois Avenue.

The building will not be Wal-Mart's typical 'big gray and blue box,' company representative Jim Porter said, but instead will be designed to fit with the neighborhood.

'We're here to tell you what we're doing and we want your feedback,' Porter told the crowd Tuesday night at the Gandy Civic Association building. Wal-Mart officials brought along pizza and soda for residents.

'Then we can tweak the site plan if needed,' Porter said.

The 24-hour store will include general merchandise, groceries, a pharmacy and garden center. There will be no gas station, auto service station or liquor store.

Most of the residents said they don't have a problem with Wal-Mart coming to the area, especially because it will replace the Pleasure Zone Adult Supercenter, Sticks 'N Stuff and other commercial buildings.

But they wanted to know about the building's size and design, and what Wal-Mart will do about traffic, access, water use and stormwater.

'This is a matter of how you are going to fit into the neighborhood and not impact the neighbors any more than you have to,' community activist Sue Lyon said.

John Starnes said he and a couple of his neighbors would like the Wal-Mart to be farther south of Gandy. He said Gandy traffic problems will get worse with a Supercenter.

Wal-Mart has five parcels totaling almost 13 acres under contract. Spokeswoman Quenta Vettel said there is no construction timeline.

Porter said the property is zoned for commercial use, and the project will not require public hearings before the city council unless Wal-Mart seeks waivers or variances.

County Commissioner Rose Ferlita applauded Wal-Mart officials for meeting with residents early in the process.

'The people most impacted want to know what you are going to do and what you are not going to do,' Ferlita said. 'That's what you need to do to build consensus.'

Resident Vivian Hart said the project will benefit the community.

'We've been looking for ways to improve our area,' she said.

Reporter Michael H. Samuels can be reached at msamuels@

tampatrib.com or (813) 835-2109.

http://southtampa2.tbo.com/content/2007/jul/14/st-wal-mart-details-plan-for-residents/?news

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