Bowser weighs her options and casts her vote for WalMart. WalMart isn't right for Ward 4. Ward 4 needs community led development! Together we can develop a Georgia Avenue in line with the city's original Great Streets plan with local businesses, manageable traffic, and good jobs for DC residents.
Muriel! WalMart will result in a net retail job loss of on average 2.7%!
MEDIA ALERT February 9, 2011 FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE CONTACT: Rob Hawkins 202-741-0921 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
A Walmart plan I can support
While discussions about Walmart's plans to open a store in Ward 4 have been polarizing and sometimes raucous, the issues deserve a thorough analysis. Nearby neighbors' legitimate concerns about traffic, density, noise and parking must be balanced against promised jobs, immediate private investment and the long-awaited transformation of an important corridor. In this balancing act, city agencies must aggressively protect the District's interests.
While Walmart's plan to open a smaller, “urban” store in Ward 4 requires no government assistance, Walmart's success will require neighborhood support. For Walmart and the neighborhood to maximize benefits and minimize future problems, the company must:
• Respect our Comprehensive Plan: Executive branch review of Walmart's construction plans is designed to ensure that the project comports with the city's Comprehensive Plan and does not inappropriately strain city infrastructure. The proposed store could create traffic and parking problems, increased water runoff, and additional noise. City planners must ensure that any approved plan respects the values enshrined in the Comprehensive Plan: a walkable, multimodal neighborhood center at this intersection that offers superior retail and housing choices.
• Invest in D.C. and Ward 4: Walmart promises 1,200 permanent jobs citywide and 300 in Ward 4, but it is imperative that wages and benefits are competitive, and that local contractors, construction workers and tradesmen build these new stores. In Chicago, a minority-woman general contractor built a Walmart with unionized labor. There's no reason that a minority development team could not construct these stores here. A citywide agreement on these bread-and-butter issues would go a long way toward addressing residents' skepticism.
• Help build a better Brightwood: We know that investment follows clean, safe, vibrant corridors that have great transportation options. Walmart, and existing and future businesses, will benefit from a coordinated small-business recruitment, retention and improvement program. Walmart should be the first at the table and agree to share its abundant parking with the patrons of existing businesses, accommodate car and bike sharing and provide enhanced bus, pedestrian and roadway amenities, all of which will help make a better Brightwood.
• Make sure urban means excellent: Retailers too often think that urban means substandard, inferior goods, service and selection, which is not welcome here. We are encouraged by Walmart's addition of fresh-food options at the site and even more so since First Lady Michelle Obama's recent endorsement of the company's initiative to provide healthful foods. Even though the proposal lacks a housing component, which is my strong preference, I am encouraged by the quality retail design and underground parking proposed for this site.
• Put all the cards on the table: Walmart would like to approach each of its four District proposals separately, like it did in the Chicago area, but we cannot let that happen. Citywide agreements are the strongest tool to ensure that District residents benefit the most from Walmart's entrance into our valuable, largely untapped neighborhood retail markets. I will work with my colleagues and the Mayor's economic development team to maintain our unified approach to getting the best for the District.
Walmart will submit plans to the Office of Planning in the coming weeks. The elements outlined above reflect a Walmart plan I can support and the strong sentiments of many of the people I represent. Walmart would be smart to heed our concerns.
A native Washingtonian and former ANC commissioner, Councilmember Muriel Bowser is Chair of the Committee on Libraries, Parks and Recreation. She is also a member of the Committees on: Finance and Revenue; Public Services and Consumer Affairs; Public Works and Transportation; and the Judiciary. Visit www.murielbowser.com for more information.
1350 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW, Suite 110, Washington, DC 20004 202-724-8052 phone 202-741-0908 fax