RG4N Blog

Wal-Mart to Trim Growth

Posted Sat, 06/02/2007 - 10:39am

Wal-Mart had its annual meeting this week. The surprising news to their stockholders wasn't so surprising to us: their scorched earth growth plan isn't working.

Wal-Mart said it would scale back the number of planned U.S. supercenter store openings this year by more than 25 percent, a move that will drop its capital expenditures by $1.5 billion in the current fiscal year and help improve store sales.

"The priority for a potential store is selecting a location that makes the most efficient use of capital resources and aligns with market growth priorities," Wal-Mart Vice Chairman and Chief Administrative Officer John Menzer said. "We also have been focused this year on reducing cannibalization of existing stores via our more strategic selection of U.S. real estate projects."

The Northcross development isn't just bad for the community, it's bad business. It looks like Wal-Mart management may be increasingly receptive to that message.

You can read the full article here.

Wal-Mart Traffic Numbers: Revised the Wrong Way

Posted Wed, 05/30/2007 - 11:20pm

The Northcross developer has been under fire for filing a bad traffic study with the city. In their original application, Lincoln Properties filed numbers far below real measured traffic rates for area Wal-Mart supercenters. Many have decried the Lincoln traffic numbers as bogus. Lincoln has been under a lot of pressure to revise those numbers.

Well they have, but in the wrong direction. People were hoping the revised numbers would better reflect actual, historical patterns. Instead, Lincoln filed a new traffic study claiming even lower numbers than before.

Here is what the Statesman had to say:

Lincoln Property Co. plans to redevelop Northcross Mall into the Wal-Mart and other stores. A new traffic study Lincoln has submitted to city officials says the Wal-Mart and other stores on the site will generate 20,602 total car trips a day, about 20 percent fewer than Lincoln predicted in a 2005 traffic study.

Read the full article here.

A Subtle Exit for Suttle... Speculation Abounds.

Posted Fri, 05/25/2007 - 7:54pm

Statesman: Austin lawyer backs off from Wal-Mart wars

Friday, May 25, 2007

After seven years at the barricades for Wal-Mart, Austin lawyer Richard Suttle has signed off as the company's development lawyer and lobbyist.

Suttle has been Wal-Mart's point man in the development wars as it substantially expanded the number of SuperCenters in Austin, some of which spawned substantial controversy.

With the latest battle over a planned Wal-Mart at Northcross Mall almost behind him, it was time for a change, he said. The move was first reported in the InFact Daily newsletter.

Even without Wal-Mart, he won't lack for excitement.

He's representing developers who want to build a Marriott hotel complex on Congress Avenue that will displace the popular Las Manitas restaurant and another company that plans three residential towers on East Riverside Drive. That project has drawn a legal challenge from a citizens group that wants to curb development on Town Lake.

Local real estate consultants estimate that Wal-Mart easily has paid Suttle hundreds of thousands of dollars over the years.

Suttle is mum on that score, but chuckled and said: "There were times when I thought it wasn't nearly enough."

Press Conference, Arms Around Austin, Protest, Whew!

Posted Mon, 05/21/2007 - 9:06pm

We started off last week with a press conference on Monday, calling on Lee Scott to come to Austin, retract and apologize for Wal-Mart's threat letter and work with us to find a solution at Northcross that addresses neighborhood concerns and is profitable for the developer.

On Thursday, we showed Wal-mart that Austin and its neighborhoods will not be bullied by encircling City Hall in a symbolic gesture of protection. Also on Thursday, our attorney spoke during the City Council meeting and presented a legal memo proving that Council can and must act to prevent overburdened streets and endangerment of public safety. The memo also showed that the law is quite clear—the City can defend a Council member sued individually by Lincoln or Wal-Mart for acting according to the law in this matter.

Finally, on Saturday, more than a hundred Austinites protested at the Norwood Wal-Mart to again send Wal-Mart the message that its threats will not stop us from exercising our rights.

Thanks to everyone who helped make these events successful!

Nice Day for a Protest

Posted Sat, 05/19/2007 - 4:48pm

photo from Wal-Mart protestIt was a beautiful day today—perfect weather for a protest. Over 100 people lined both sides of Norwood Park Blvd. to send Wal-Mart a message.

Well, two messages. Supercenters don't belong in neighborhoods. And Austin can't be bullied into irresponsible development.

Check out the photos Juliettek took.

May 21 update: That Other Paper was at the protest and posted a slideshow of photographs from the event.

Mal-Wart at Northcrossed

Posted Sat, 05/19/2007 - 3:48pm

Mal-Wart Logo Okay, this is funny. There is an anonymous flyer circulating around that describes a Wal-Mart global domination strategy that begins at Northcross.

The Austin Chronicle blogged about it here.

We didn't do it, but we admire the creativity (and mad graphic skillz) of whoever did.

Listen to the Press Conference

Posted Mon, 05/14/2007 - 11:25pm

If you missed today's press conference on the RG4N response to the Wal-Mart threats, you can listen in to this audio file (1.4MB MP3).

Wal-Mart labels Boerne nuns a security threat!

Posted Sat, 05/05/2007 - 7:13pm
Click here to read: Wal-Mart labels Boerne nuns a security threat.

Nydia Lopez KENS 5 Eyewitness News

It's a David versus Goliath battle heating up in the Hill Country — a group of nuns from Boerne is taking a stand against Wal-Mart.

The corporate giant reportedly labeled the nuns a security threat after they raised questions about Wal-Mart's business practices.

Sister Susan Mika is part of the Benedectine Sisters, which is part of the Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility. The center has been questioning Wal-Mart's business practices for years.

"We've been raising questions with them for about 17 years, so it's not like they don't know it," Sister Mika said.

Now, the sisters find themselves on Wal-Mart's security threat list. Sister Mika said the group has been wrongly labeled.

"In no way have we ever been a threat to the company in that sense. We might be a threat in the kind of question that we're asking, but not a security threat," Sister Mika said.

The sisters have raised questions on wages, human rights, health care and the pay disparity between CEOs and workers. They believe that's why Wal-Mart has launched a surveillance operation on the small church group.

"We wanted to find out more about what was actually happening, and did they do any surveillance on us, either personally or as a community, and to let us know what that would be, and to apologize to us," Sister Mika said.

Calls from KENS 5 to a Wal-Mart spokesperson went unreturned.

The nuns say they want an apology and will continue to raise concerns and issues until someone launches an investigation into thousands of allegations against Wal-Mart.

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