Friday, August 28, 2009

Wal Mart is Not TOD

Building a supercenter will not anchor TOD. Sorry to say.
Soon, the boarded up store fronts and run down parking lots that make up the mostly vacant Amity Gardens Shopping Center will be torn down to make room for a Wal-Mart Supercenter.

After years of discussions, the mega-chain finalized plans to build along Independence Boulevard Monday night. City leaders hope it will be an economic shot in the arm to the city's East Side.

"I think we have a real opportunity for transit oriented development next door and further out. This will anchor all of those developments," said Nancy Carter, of the Charlotte City Council.

I'm sure Wal Mart would act as a stellar anchor to new real transit oriented development, after it dies a slow gasoline-less supply chain death.


kenf said...

While not TOD by any stretch of the imagination, I have thought that it might be a good idea to site a big box store next to a suburban transit stop with parking. The two could share the parking, as peak demand is different for the 2 uses, and it would allow the carless to get to the big box store, assuming connectivity is provided to the transit stop.

arcady said...

Judging by the number of suburban bus lines in various cities I've seen whose destination is listed as "Walmart", I'd say Walmart is perfectly capable of being TOD, and I suspect they really don't care how their customers get there as long as there are a lot of them.

joshuadf said...

They tried this crap near Portland's Sunset Transit Center too:

While no doubt Wal-Mart could build TOD, that was not the plan--it was the typical sea of parking, but they claimed it would have low traffic impacts because it was near the transit center.

Unfortunately there's apparently a pretty steep learning curve on this; the proposed Wal-Mart site is still greenfield, but take a look on what's near "sunset transit center, portland, or" on an aerial map. Urban Planning FAIL.

Matt Fisher said...

What about a Wal-Mart near a light rail station in the Denver suburb of Englewood at the City Center? This is sometimes considered TOD as well. I don't see a Wal-Mart store being a legitimate example.

Jay said...

I was disappointed when I heard this. Wal-Mart will abandon its site on Eastway and Sharon Amity and move a few miles to Independence. So it is moving from an area that is primarily auto dependant to an area that should hopefully be more transit friendly in the future.

I believe if the city and Wal-Mart wanted to they could make the Wal-Mart somewhat TOD. The Lowes store in South End near the New Bern Station is fairly TOD and very pedestrian friendly. The majority of parking is on the roof and the store and condos as well as smaller shops abut South Blvd and Ideal Way. However I feel this will turn out to be more like the Wal-Mart near the City Blvd/ University City Blvd stop on the proposed Blue Line Extension. Or it may also turn out to be like the new Midtown Square development where the parking deck abuts the street and the Target and now vacant Home Depot were only accessible via the parking deck or an ally off of an adjacent street.

W. K. Lis said...

We have a Walmart near me close to the corner of two streets that have several bus routes. However, to get to the entrance, one has to walk from the corner bus stops along one side of the building, turn the corner of the building and walk another quarter of the building to the entrance. The entrance is facing the parking lot. Not very transit oriented. Walmart has literally turned its back on the bus routes near by.

BruceMcF said...

Perhaps the best that a big box like Wal-Mart can be for TOD is to be at the edge of a walkable district, with the parking all located on the "outlying" side.

Of course, if you are looking for contiguous TOD along a streetcar line, that would not be on the streetcar line street but on a parallel street ... but if it is a station, a Wal-Mart 1/4 mile from the station along a bus line connecting to the station might be moderately less antagonistic to TOD than most Wal-Mart locations.

Consider, for instance, the massive Westfield Parramatta site ... where Parramatta train station is a main transit hub for Western Sydney and depends heavily on the rail connection to Sydney City ... my impression from the occasions I visited is that there is more substantial TOD on the opposite side of the train station, but on the far side of Westfields from the train, the massive shopping center casts a form of development shadow.

Tim said...

Ahh, I'm no fan of Walmart, but this smacks of ignorance of just how smart Walmart is. Walmart has been continually hedging their bets against energy prices. They're going to be adding cradle to grave charts to their products specifically so they can track energy use through the entire manufacturing and shipping process (and they get to look green too).
It's not going to be Walmart that dies when gas goes up to $10/gallon. It's going to be their competitors who haven't prepared. There's going to be no more Target, Best Buy, or locally owned stores. There will be Walmarts with slightly higher prices conveniently located at the terminus of every popular bus route.
They might not be somewhere I want to shop, but they're really smart.