RG4N Blog

"You don't actually want to know how I feel about it, do you?"

Posted Thu, 04/19/2007 - 10:22pm

We thought we would give you a better option for replying to their fantasy brochure.

Click on the image below for a PDF version. Print it out and fill it out.

Tape it to their one-sided opinion poll and send it in.

Plus, click here to read some of the comments we’ve received via email from Austinites about the deceptive brochures Wal-Mart is mailing to residents.

Tell us what you think at: press [at] rg4n [dot] org

Wal-Mart's traffic dilemma - Too much of a good thing causes them to move.

Posted Wed, 04/18/2007 - 12:52pm

By Elvia Aguilar Caller-Times, Corpus Christi
April 17, 2007

The corner of Everhart Road and South Padre Island Drive is acknowledged as a prime location for business, but Wal-Mart officials say the heavy traffic and congestion are causing them to lose valuable customers.

Their solution: Close that store and build two Wal-Mart Supercenters nearer where most of their customers live.

Closing the Everhart location would allow the store's current 150 employees to join nearly 600 others at proposed Wal-Mart Supercenter locations at the Parkdale Plaza Shopping Center and at South Staples and Timbergate Drive on the Southside.

Wayne Lundquist, of Cobb, Lundquist and Atnip, a commercial real estate company, said the Everhart site is a prime location for retail, but the congestion discourages potential Wal-Mart customers.

"Everyone knows that traffic is good for business, but the congestion on that intersection drives people away instead of bringing them in," Lundquist said.

Lundquist, a supporter of the Wal-Mart Supercenters, said he is confident Wal-Mart officials would find a tenant for the Everhart location.

Mark Stephens, real estate manager for Wal-Mart, said the company has a full department devoted to finding tenants or other owners for closed stores.

"In some occasions, the building is rented out before we start construction on the new stores," Stephens said.

Store officials announced in March that Parkdale Plaza Shopping Center, opened in 1957, will be replaced by a Wal-Mart Supercenter and a strip center for current tenants and other businesses. It will be renamed Parkdale Shopping Center and most of the buildings are expected to be demolished. The nearby Sutherland's, Guitar Center of America and Wendy's are separate properties not owned by Wal-Mart.

Renovations are scheduled later this year and a ribbon-cutting for the renovated shopping center is planned for late 2008 or early 2009.

Wal-Mart also is hoping to build another Wal-Mart Supercenter in an area of the city currently zoned as residential.

On March 7, the city's Planning Commission, after hearing objections from neighbors who said the store would cause traffic problems and lower their property values, voted 5-3 to recommend rezoning the area on South Staples Street and Timbergate Drive, between Saratoga and Yorktown boulevards.

The rezoning from residential to business will go before the City Council on May 29 for consideration and another public comment period.

Calls to Faryce Macon, acting assistant director of development services for the city, were not returned Monday.

About 70 people, most of whom indicated they opposed the rezoning, attended the commission meeting at City Hall on March 7. Some neighbors said they had safety concerns about having the store open 24 hours a day and traffic from customers and distribution trucks.

Many also feared a Wal-Mart would bring down home values in the upscale area.

Jeff Hamilton, an engineer for Longview-based Johnson and Pace Inc., the engineering firm for this Wal-Mart Supercenter, said the company would solve traffic issues by turning Timbergate Drive into two lanes with a center turning lane.

Sally Aiello, a spokeswoman for Wal-Mart, said the Wal-Mart's exterior design would be upgraded to reflect its surroundings.

"This Wal-Mart Supercenter will look like no other in the area," Aiello said.

Stephens said $20 million to $30 million would be invested in each store.

The Wal-Mart Supercenter at Timbergate would be about 180,000 square feet. The Supercenter at Parkdale would be about 203,000 square feet.

Aiello said Wal-Mart still is preparing new traffic studies and information to present at a neighborhood open house for the Timbergate proposal. The date and place for that open house haven't been decided, but neighbors will receive notices in the mail as well as phone calls, Aiello said. Wal-Mart officals also are working on creating a Web site and have circulated a petition in support of the proposed location.

Aiello said the company has gathered about 150 pages with signatures of people in support of its Corpus Christi expansion plans.

The Staples-Timbergate area is a hot spot for new businesses. A Gold's Gym, a B&J's Pizza Restaurant, and a shopping center, The Market at Timbergate, are under construction and First Community Bank plans to open a branch in 2008.

The Mayor Speaks About Northcross

Posted Fri, 04/13/2007 - 1:21am

Today, during Citizen's Communication, the mayor spoke about the Northcross development in response to Donna Beth McCormick and others addressing the council about the proposed Wal-Mart Supercenter and its myriad of legitimate problems and concerns.

For one of the first times, the mayor addressed this topic. It doesn't necessarily count as an oration using the "bully pulpit," but it is extremely notable in 3 ways:

1. He implies that the Northcross development is NOT what the city prefers.

2. He implies the council is frustrated with the development.

3. He applauds the efforts of citizens pushing for "hopeful amendments, changes and improvements."

Sign up and speak to the council during Citizens Communication. You never know what difference it may make. Sign up on April 19 to speak on May 3 by calling 974-2210, then confirm with kat [at] dukecorrea [dot] com that you got signed up. We can provide suggestions for talking points if you need a little help.

Here is what the Mayor said as best as I could transcribe it:

"That case (Northcross) is very very different than some other examples that we're proud of when you see what's happening around town..."

"This is one of the frustrating cases where we, as an elected, governing body, essentially, are not technically not at the table. We have tried to insert ourselves as best we can."

"...I applaud and appreciate all the time, effort that neighbors continue to put into that effort to see if there can be improvements made, or changes made, to that proposal. This council, I think, virtually on a weekly basis with our zoning votes and projects that we have been approving of the past year or two, I think, sends very strong signals about what this community prefers when it comes to vertical mixed use, when it comes to design standards. We now, of course, have an ordinance on the books whereby a large, big box retail is now a conditional use. And so had this application been filed this week, then there would be discretion for us to likely change what might be built..."

A Problem With City Management?

Posted Wed, 04/04/2007 - 11:06am

The interesting part is at the end. Click 'read more'.

Altered surveys led to Austin Convention Center firing, city officials say

Financial issues, criminal inquiry also dogging department.

By Kate Alexander
Wednesday, April 04, 2007

The firing of the director of the Austin Convention Center Department, Robert Hodge, stemmed from his manipulation of customer service surveys to improve the convention center's performance results, according to two senior city officials.

An annual bonus for Hodge and more than 200 other department employees was contingent on maintaining a high customer service rating, which was derived from those surveys.

City Manager Toby Futrell terminated Hodge on Sunday for violating an unspecified city policy. She declined to elaborate on the violation because it related to a personnel issue. She said in a statement that the firing was separate from an ongoing investigation of the department by the Travis County district attorney.

If Florida Can Do It...

Posted Mon, 03/19/2007 - 1:08am
A very wise judge rejected a plan for a new Wal-Mart Supercenter. Apparently, it was too big and too close to homes or something like that. Sounds familiar somehow...

Are you kidding me? This judge belongs on the United States Supreme Court! Is he interested in a job in Austin, Texas?

Read it here in the South Florida Sun Sentinel. And note the size of the proposed store. It’s smaller than ours.

Judge rejects new Davie Wal-Mart

By Susannah Bryan
South Florida Sun-Sentinel
March 17, 2007

Wal-Mart can't build a proposed 24-hour superstore in Davie close to residential neighborhoods, a judge ruled in a decision released Friday.

Residents of Rolling Hills Lake Estates and Pine Island Bay opposed the project, saying traffic and noise would keep them up at night. Their communities border the 36-acre property at the northwest corner of Orange and University drives that Wal-Mart wanted to build on.

Broward Circuit Court Judge Cheryl Aleman ruled the Town Council was correct to deny the site plan in July.

"Good for us," Mayor Tom Truex said Friday. "I think the residents in that area are going to be extremely relieved. The plan as submitted was not compatible [with the area]."

Statesman Letters: "Neighborhood clout"

Posted Thu, 03/15/2007 - 2:26pm
Here's a letter in the Statesman on 3-14, called "Neighborhood clout".
Amen, Brother James! We need more letters like this one, folks. Write your paper!

Neighborhood clout

Curious, isn't it? The neighbors in the area of the Triangle development at Guadalupe Street and North Lamar Boulevard were able to have input in the design and utilization of the property. The neighbors in the area of Mesa Drive and Spicewood Springs Road kept an Albertson's grocery store from being built near there.

Neighbors living in the Northcross Mall area, however, appear to have no rights whatsoever. Isn't it amazing which neighborhoods have clout in this city?


Movie Tix Available Now

Posted Wed, 02/21/2007 - 3:49pm

On March 3, we will host a community screening of Wal-Mart: The High Cost of Low Price at the Alamo Drafthouse Village cinema. See the above link for more information and purchase details.

Advance tickets went on sale today. Follow the link above for more information about the event and advance ticket purchase.

Seating is limited and we are expecting a full house, so if you'd like to join us we strongly recommend that you purchase your tickets in advance.

Sierra Club: Choose Reckless or Sustainable

Posted Mon, 02/19/2007 - 1:00pm

A healthy and vibrant Northcross design must be sustainable. Otherwise, when the big box reaches its end of life (and they all do), it will be a lot worse than what's there right now.

It's interesting how you can approach the issue from several different angles and end up at this same conclusion. We've talked a lot about the urban planning perspective. What about the environmental perspective?

Chris Lehman, chair of the Austin Regional Group of the Sierra Club, writes in the current edtion of the Austin Sierran:

And where on earth does an overly accommodating city command a premium over one that protects its citizens from the reckless pursuit of profit. We all pay with our health if we don't require business models that are sustainable. And these are models that any retailer can adopt.

And, we hasten to add, these are models any developer can adopt. Yes, we're lookin' at you, Lincoln Properties.

You can read the full article in the February 2007 newsletter over at the local Sierra Club web site.

For convenience, the text of the article is reproduced below, with permission.

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