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Wal-Mart Comes to Remington

February 25, 2010

The site of a proposed Wal-Mart in Remington. | Image by Frank Hamilton

A new tenant has been chosen for the large retail and housing development proposed for 25th and Howard streets in lower Remington. And the winner is? Wal-Mart. The 93,000 square-foot big box would fill a space that had been billed by the developers as “a grocery store” from the time the project was first announced last fall.

In January, Jon Laria, a lawyer who represents the developers, told City Paper that the developer was looking for a “known supermarket with fresh produce, a quality supermarket.” But according to The Daily Record, developer Rick Walker says he was approached by Wal-Mart in December. Calls to Laria were not immediately returned.

The announcement is a shock to some residents, even those who had thus far supported the project. “Based on what was said to the community at earlier meetings, I never would have suspected that the grocery would be a Walmart,” Charles Village resident Stephen Gewirtz writes in an e-mail. “As one who previously supported the project, I feel used by the developers.”

Others remain unfazed. “As I expected, it’s not about who’s going to go in the box,” says Joan Floyd, president of the Remington Neighborhood Alliance. “It’s about how the whole thing relates to the neighborhood.” The developers gave a presentation of the updated plans to the organization on Feb. 24. Floyd says those residents in attendance expressed concerns about the project—including how traffic would be routed and the fate of a historic stone church—but that none publicly balked at the idea of a Wal-Mart. (The developers have also presented their updated plans to a committee made up of representatives of other neighboring community organizations.)

The 11-acre, $65 million development is to include a Lowes home-improvement store, an Anna’s Linens, a Marshall’s department store, and numerous residential rental units. The “full service” Wal-Mart would be located above the Lowes, with an entrance on Huntingdon Avenue. The project is picking up speed: The developers go to the Urban Design and Architecture Review Panel (UDARP)—an advisory panel that reports to the city Department of Planning—today to present their plans. And a traffic-impact study that was to have begun around Jan. 25 is finally beginning. “It hasn’t started yet because of the weather,” says Jessica Keller, chief of planning for the city Department of Transportation. “We can’t do a study if we don’t have full capacity on the roadways.”