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Second Manchester Walmart Location Approved

The Planning and Zoning Commission voted 4-1 Monday, Jan. 7 2013 to approve a new 158,430-square foot Walmart supercenter on Spencer Street.

Manchester will soon have two Walmarts. After debating the proposal for months, the town's Planning and Zoning Commission voted 4-1 Monday to approve a special exemption that will allow Walmart to on Spencer Street. 

The new store, located at 205 Spencer Street, will be built on the site of the former Kmart near the East Hartford townline. Although Walmart's proposal was unpopular with many in the community who objected to a second Walmart in town and said it would harm local businesses, members of the commission said that as an applicant Walmart's proposal appeared to meet all the necessary criteria for a special exemption and there was nothing they could do to deny them the permit. Although the new Walmart will be built on the site of a former large retail store and is located in a commercial zone, it required a special exemption from the PZC based on its size and the number of parking spaces needed. 

"Our job is not to control the market forces, our job is to try to adhere to the plan of conversation and development," said Joseph Diminico, chairman of the planning and zoning commission. 

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The former Kmart building had been vacant for years before the current owner, Gatewa Lauren Inc., demolished it in late 2012. Walmart has an agreement to purchase the 20.8 acre property from Gateway Lauren Inc. and construct a new 158,430 square foot building on the property. Its application states that the Pep Boys and Ocean State Job Lot that currently occupy the same plaza on Spencer Street would remain as tenants. If approved, it would be Walmart's second location in Manchester, as the retail giant currently has a store located at 420 Buckland Hills Dr. near the Shoppes at Buckland Hills mall that is in the process of being expanded into a supercenter itself. 

"The redevelopment of that parcel is a very good benefit to the area," said commission Michael Stebe, who conceded that traffic in the area was "going to be a bear" with the new Walmart in place. But Stebe said he thought the benefits Walmart would bring to the Spencer Street area of town far outweighed the negatives. 

"Having that parcel grow again will help everybody else around it grow and attract more developers," he said. 

Eric Prause was the only member of the commission who opposed the development. Prause said he thought Walmart's proposal was just too big for the area, and noted that it was almost 40,000-square feet more of retail space in the same location than Kmart brought to the area when it was still in business. 

"I support the redevelopment there, but once you start exceeding what was there before I question whether this is the right use?" Prause said. 

Walmart has not indicated when it plans to break ground on the new Spencer Street location or when it could open. 

Julie January 08, 2013 at 03:48 PM
I couldn't agree more. Put it to a town vote! They wouldn't do that because they know what the outcome would be. People in the position of "power" don't care about us "little" people. You know the ones that pay the taxes. They care about catering to corporations.. Great job P&Z you're pushing out tax paying property owning families!
Julie January 08, 2013 at 03:50 PM
I say put it to a town vote. Let the actual PEOPLE of this town speak for what we want!
Jason field January 08, 2013 at 04:04 PM
How does this benefit Manchester? ..glad we are selling our home and moving out of this low rent town..
Manchester Review Blog, Host: Jack Peak January 08, 2013 at 10:57 PM
Paige "Everything is bought and paid for?" Are you implying shenanigans on the part of the Planning and Zoning Board? Bribery? Serious accusation- come up with some facts. Let's see how the marketplace (capitalism) works. Shop Rite is the only game on that side of town. The SR owners are sharp, creative and will be competitive. Walmart has a lot to offer beside groceries- how about jobs, attracting more customers to other business' in the area, providing an alternative to the mall. It's all about choices. Some people hate Walmart, others love it. If it's as bad as most commentators here seem to believe, maybe no one will go there. My bet is that it will all work out.
Frank January 09, 2013 at 01:16 AM
Yeah it is dumb and short sighted, classic Manchester move, get stars in their eyes about the possible tax revenue. Never for a second thinking, oh if Walmart causes other businesses in the area to close then we will lose that benefit and have an abandoned building that will lower property values and attract even more homeless. Nope never think that far out, only the grand hope that something else will come back and be our new Cheney Family. Apartments will pay our bills for us! A mall will pay our bills for us! Condos will pay our bills for us! The dump will pay our bills for us! Walmart will pay our bills for us! Imaginary future rich people square built on the site of the parkade will pay our bills for us! News flash---pay your own bills, it is called "self government". Learn it, live it, or else enjoy the fast track to becoming Windham the second. Who wants to battle for 169/169? Anybody have a list of the towns in our area that became prosperous by courting/accepting low end retail and high density housing? Anybody? Anybody?
Jerry O'Connor January 09, 2013 at 01:38 AM
The new Walmart will mean more tax income for the Town annually, plus a nice one-shot real estate conveyance windfall.... money that can be used to fix our schools and library. There will also be new jobs created, entry-level jobs that will help lower the region's unemployment rate and public assistance costs. (And before you say "they're not great jobs" I'll advise you that there will probably be 10 applicants for every position, and remind you that the ranks of Connecticut's unemployed include a large number of high school dropouts who are unqualified for "better" jobs. Manchester is an open town and new businesses are welcome to compete. No one has to shop at Walmart -- and if no one does the store will close quickly. (But we all know that won't be the case!) Most businesses in the area will actually see an increase in their sales because of the increase in purchasers' traffic. The Town has no obligation to protect existing businesses - in fact to do so would be a restraint of trade and not in the interests of its citizens. We are not a castle with a drawbridge -- everyone is welcome!
Frank January 09, 2013 at 11:56 AM
South Windsor and Glastonbury have drawbridges. If you want to compare how the economic fates of our 3 towns have changed over the past 30 years I would think most people would be calling for a mote with sharks in it to be put up around Manchester as well. Wait all those sharks cost money, can the Cheney's get them for us? No? Ok, in that case all are welcome.
Paige January 09, 2013 at 03:49 PM
Walmart is embroiled in a massive bribery scandal. They seemingly build wherever they please. Here in Manchester, residents who've spoken up are overwhelmingly against this store. I'm free to question.
Joel Mrosek January 09, 2013 at 06:26 PM
I don't want Manchester to be like Essex. We would have to close the homeless shelter, eliminate affordable housing and older multi families and trade in our Fords. Do you really want to be Stepford Wife, wearing pleated plaid skirts and driving a Volvo? The answer is trying to change Manchester's plan of development to what you feel is appropriate. Planning and Zoning had no choice but to approve WalMart's proposal. It was permitted by the plan of development and zoning regulations. Towns can only limit a property owner's rights within certain guidelines. A town vote is improper and would invite anarchy. Imagine if you owned the Kmart land and the voters said you could only sell it as a park. The value would drop a couple million dollars. If enough people really didn't want WalMart on that site, two things could have happened. The plan of development could be changed to prohibit it (tough because the current owner would fight it) or the people who oppose it could buy the property and do with it what they want.
Joel Mrosek January 09, 2013 at 06:39 PM
Very good points. Personally, I think the Spencer St area should be heavily promoted as the second major retail area. Great access to highways, underserved traffic going east on 384 and existing buildings along Spencer St that could have a 'higher and better' use that would come from increased demand for goods.
Julie January 09, 2013 at 07:03 PM
@ Joel - that is one of the most arrogant ignorant comment I've heard in a while. Essex - Stepford Wives, Volvo driving people. You've apparently never been there. Essex is a wonderful small community that supports small business owners. It actually has affordable living and people from all walks of life. Walmart doesn't own that land YET, they haven't purchased it from it's current owners. And you obviously didn't drive by the Walmart by the mall on Black Friday. The line of cars was backed up to Macy's and Best Buy the entire parking lot was full as was the lot in front of Savers. 8th districts response time is doubled when it's Christmas time to the mall and surrounding houses due to traffic. I live off Hillstown and if I call 911 I don't want it to take longer because of traffic to a stupid Walmart! Shop Rite gives thousands of dollars locally to schools, and sports clubs - they may not be in the position to do that anymore and those organizations will suffer. a good precentage of Walmart employees are still receiving some type of state/federal/town assistance. And they don't generat tax money to the town. They actually get a large tax break for a number of years to come into the area. My property value will suffer and I purposely moved out ths way because it was away from major retailers.
Julie January 09, 2013 at 07:07 PM
Joel all you own are a bunch of rentals in town.... thats interesting....
Joel Mrosek January 09, 2013 at 07:14 PM
Julie, I am sorry if my attempt at humor offended you. I meant it to be a funny way to illustrate that I don't want to live in some "tony town" that is in cache. If I did, I would move there. I am also sorry you didn't look at a zoning map prior to purchasing your home. Had you done that you would have seen this possibility exists and could have acted accordingly. And lastly, improving the roads in and around Hillstown Road to manage the increased traffic caused by the expansion of MCC and further residential development is the responsibility of the town, not WalMart. The traffic in that area is already difficult. Contact the town to improve the roads. I am a strong believer in property rights. If I own a piece of land, I should be able to do with it as I see fit, subject to reasonable zoning restrictions. I also see the Spencer Street area as providing a second retail zone that could provide an increase to the grand list that is so important to Manchester's schools and other public services.
Joel Mrosek January 09, 2013 at 09:54 PM
Julie, First of all, you have no idea what I own or don't, in Manchester or any other town. Regardless, why do you say I own rental properties as if it is a bad thing? You sound very bitter. That is a shame because it appears your ignorance of where you chose to buy your house is the source, not Walmart's or the Town's or even what I own. So, what is so interesting if someone takes the risk of providing housing to others?
Greg January 09, 2013 at 11:57 PM
When I was a child and developers wanted to build the Manchester Parkade, many said this is a VERY BAD IDEA, I-384 through Manchester, a bad idea When I was older and developers wanted to build Buckland Mall many said it was a bad idea. I remember hearing the same about the JC Penny warehouse. Low income housing projects, another bad idea and now a new Walmart. While you are welcome to your opinions, but know, you will learn to live with even the things you at one time thought were bad ideas.
Gayle Hunter Moore January 10, 2013 at 01:10 AM
As far as I learned the government entities WORK FOR THE PEOPLE. The people don't work for them. Fight this travesty.
Bob Hetzel January 10, 2013 at 08:41 PM
Greg, Respectfully, learning to live with bad ideas is not good government. Some bad ideas: razing Depot Square (just the sort of community described in the new Plan of Development), not accepting the Cheney rail bed (same reason), the original Parkade (we're still trying to fix that), Buckland Hill (a traffic disaster), Walmart on Spencer Street. Inevitable; but not good. The jury is still out on Mary Cheney Library. It will be interesting.
Greg January 10, 2013 at 10:01 PM
Bob my point is that just because a handful of residents think a development proposal is a bad idea, that does not mean in reality it is a bad idea. The parade was not a bad idea. Does it need renovation and revitalization sure but it still is an active retail location that for decades has met the needs of thousands of citizens. Same for Buckland Mall and I would propose so will a Spencer Street Walmart. Change is difficult for many and development is always looked at as a major change but at the end of the day inevitable and we as a community must choose our battles. Reversing failing schools, reducing crime, homelessness and unemployment are serious community problems that need our attention and serious dialog. Increased traffic because of a new Walmart not sure it is the end of Manchester as we know it.
Edie January 11, 2013 at 05:26 AM
Sometimes the people do know better than the town. When the Parkade was built it put a dent into Downtown Manchester, when the Mall was built it killed Downtown Manchester and even hurt Hartford, and put a huge dent into the Parkade. The Mall as people had predicted was a disaster and still is. Traffic is horrible and inside the mall itself there is a constant stream of stores that open and close. It took the Parkade a long time to come back at least in the front part of it and the back part never did. More money lost as those buildings have sat vacant for years. Hopefully that won't happen where this Walmart is going but I predict within a few years after it open mostly all the business's around it will be closed and we will have more empty buildings, loss of jobs and loss of tax dollars to the town.
Bob Hetzel January 11, 2013 at 02:12 PM
Greg, I agree with much of your argument. I don't oppose thoughtful change, and I agree that schools, crime, homelessness and unemployment - and guns - are bigger issues. Walmart is a slam-dunk. What may happen next: The site is too small, Walmart needs a second driveway, they force out their "tenants," buy two or three properties to the east, and create a second entrance opposite Hillstown Road. The rest, I think, is obvious.
James Bond January 12, 2013 at 11:30 AM
Some have posted that behind the scenes dealings went on,that doesn't have to happen anymore. When Wal-Mart filed its intention to open a new store the deal was sealed.The "rules " are already skewed so that tha lawyers all know the drill. Present plan, plan is tabled or mildly discussed and moved to next meeting, people show up speak out,no discussion by board further study needed.next meeting or one more it passes.Its all a shell game even if Jack says that 'NO Shenamigans' were involved....the shenanigans are in the stupid laws created by the lawyers so they jump through a hoop or two, let the public think it has a say and then they get what they want.
James Bond January 12, 2013 at 11:40 AM
Th rules are rigged.The day the story came out Wal-Mart was in.The P&ZB is a rubber stamp.The so called rules have been carefully modified to give the illusion of democracy when its just window dressing.More taxes for the town huh? The real cost to the town,services to clean up problems like fire and police will far out weigh your tax benefit argument.Don't worry Jack you'll still have your store discount,OH,by the way does anyone think for a moment that Wal-Mart is even remotely good for America........................NO. AND I will never shop there or any Wal-Mart for that matter.
Joel Mrosek January 12, 2013 at 01:44 PM
Warrent Buffett, a liberal icon, once stated WalMart was responsible for 20% of the economic growth of the 1990's. This came about from their operations and how they revolutionized the retail industry. Their innovative practices were copied by companies like Kohls, Target and Home Depot. WalMart's practices have been proven to create economic wealth for consumers and investors. Also, the adverse economic implications to surrounding businesses and wages is a myth. Most arguments against WalMart are speculative using "common sense", absent of empirical evidence or economic reasoning. http://econlog.econlib.org/archives/2012/06/wal-marts_posit.html This is a short an easy read on the subject. I am optimistic that WalMart will revitalize that depressed part of town. There are too many vacant buildings and "low value" businesses currently occupying some spaces.
James Bond January 12, 2013 at 07:07 PM
Wal-Mart should be honest and change its name to 'Made in China'.Joel another onesided link that you put up so that YOU can act correct. You should post as Narcissus.
Joel Mrosek January 12, 2013 at 07:16 PM
"James Bond" - I use my real name because I am not afraid to post under it. I am comfortable in substantiating my assertions, focus on the positive and trying to offer solutions. I don't need to hide, make uninformed assertions attacking other's solutions or engage in personal attacks as a means of justifying myself.
Joel Mrosek January 16, 2013 at 09:10 PM
Below is a link to an article about WalMart's committment to hiring veterans. In the article, Billy Simon, MHS '77, is quoted. Billy grew up on Glenwood St and had 2 brothers, (Mickey and Marty) and a sister (Renee) Don't let anyone say the schools in Manchester aren't very good. Work hard and a Manchester education can make you President and CEO of WalMart. http://finance.yahoo.com/news/wal-mart-hire-vets-buy-190409052.html
James Bond January 16, 2013 at 10:02 PM
Another attack posted by Joel, out of step with the world,linked to others out of step.Man you must be lonely.Go on you tube and check out the video,Is Wal-Mart Good for America? Not your kind of choir so I know you'll skip it.
scott January 21, 2013 at 01:53 AM
We don't need another wallmart in this town,let the people go over to the mall and shop.shoprite has been there forever that's were I will continue to go.keep wallmart out!
Jeffingraham March 08, 2013 at 08:01 PM
First off, Shoprite location in Manchester is a dump! The store needs a major overhaul! They opened up a second location in East Hartford that is also close by and that store is much cleaner. Walmart is a business. It is additional revenue in Manchester. They have expanded so many locations throughout the state that I highly doubt traffic is going to be a problem. It was never an issue when Kmart was there. People should be more concerned about the foul odor that the dump and sewage treatment plant nearby is emitting. You can complain all you want. Look at Sonic and the way people were bitchin about the traffic that would bring. That traffic is no longer an issue. People should stop complaining so much and worry more about what our government is doing to our country than Walmart.
Edie March 10, 2013 at 12:41 PM
Sorry but the traffice around Sonic is still an issue. It is a mess over that way but the whole area near the mall is awful. And if your the poor person that comes in from out of town you can't find anything since signs are almost non existent, especially if you want to go to the theaters. Extremly poor, poor, planning by the Town of Manchester.

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