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Wal-Mart shelves Moscow super center
By ELAINE WILLIAMS
of the Tribune
Wal-Mart has put plans for a super center in Moscow on the back burner.
Wal-Mart will not pursue a location on the southeast corner of Mountain View Road and Highway 8, east of a former Tidyman's site and near Eastside Marketplace, said Karianne Fallow, a spokeswoman for Wal-Mart in Boise.
"Wal-Mart has decided to re-evaluate our opportunities for a super center in Moscow,'' Fallow said in a Thursday announcement.
"While we're fully committed to continuing to serve our customers on the Palouse, we can't continue to delay our relocation plans at this time,'' Fallow said.
Wal-Mart will continue to operate its existing Moscow store, Fallow said.
Wal-Mart will also seek to open a 223,000-square-foot super center on Bishop Boulevard in Pullman, Fallow said.
That project has been appealed by Pullman Alliance for Responsible Development in Whitman County Superior Court.
And Wal-Mart will also look for alternative super center sites in Moscow, Fallow said. "We still continue to view Pullman and Moscow as two very distinct markets.''
Fallow said Wal-Mart has no plans to build a super center in Lewiston at this time. Rumors about such a store have been circulating in Lewiston for months.
Wal-Mart's decision is directly related to action taken by the Moscow City Council last month, Fallow said.
The panel rejected a request to rezone 77 acres from agriculture-forestry to motor business, a designation that could have opened the door for a number of big-box retailers on the site.
At the time, the council indicated that a rezone request for a lesser amount of property might be acceptable.
But Wal-Mart isn't interested in following up, Fallow said. "The city council has continually changed the rules of the game. And creating a guessing game for any kind of development is a very expensive endeavor.''
First the land needed to be rezoned and then how much needed to be rezoned wasn't clear, Fallow said.
Then it wasn't possible for the store plans to be reviewed before the rezone and other parts of the process were settled, Fallow said.
Attempts to reach the city's elected officials Thursday afternoon by e-mail were not successful. All of them were out of town, most of them attending the Idaho Association of Cities conference in Lewiston.
"We certainly respect the decision Wal-Mart has made,'' said Bill Belknap, assistant city supervisor. "We wish them the best in their endeavors.''
Mark Solomon, a coordinator of No Super Wal-Mart, said Moscow already has the services a Wal-Mart would have provided at its own store and in retailers owned by Palouse residents.
"It's great news that the most predatory retailer on the planet won't be gaining any larger presence in Moscow,'' Solomon said.
Solomon's group already had a party planned for 7 p.m. tonight at the 1912 Center in Moscow to mark the previous zoning decision of the city council. "There will be additional cause to celebrate Moscow's vitality,'' Solomon said.
But Fallow said it's wrong for Moscow residents to view her employer's decision as a victory. "With a super center comes additional jobs, additional tax revenue. You name it, there are a lot of benefits to having a super center in the city.''
Solomon disagreed. Wal-Mart jobs replace better paying ones in existing local businesses, Solomon said.
Williams may be contacted at email@example.com or at (208) 743-9600, ext. 261.
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