wal-mart is coming

Benderson Development has announced that a Wal-Mart Supercenter is going to be built on the site of the Brierwood (Southshore) Plaza on Rte. 20 in Hamburg.  203,000 square feet is a LOT of store.  Benderson also acquired some adjoining land, and plans to develop another 125,000 sq. ft. into retail stuff.  The proposal still needs town approval, but the zoning is already in place.   That should help the process.  Construction is slated to be done in mid-2007.  There is no definitive word on what, if anything, will move into the current Wal-Mart store at the Seven Corners intersection in Hamburg.

OK, now for my opinion.  I will not now get into the debate on whether or not Wal-Mart is a good corporate citizen, or its effects – good and bad – on society in general and this community in particular.  I live 1.19 miles in a straight line from the site of the proposed Supercenter.  I also grew up less than a mile from the current Wal-Mart, and was living there when it was built.  So I do have an interest in this.

The location for the new Wal-Mart Supercenter is probably the best place to put one in Hamburg at this time.  It will not require the building of an entirely new retail plaza.  Its location in the Brierwood Plaza will require the razing of one ugly, and I mean UGLY, old complex.  Very few busineses will be displaced.  World Gym is relocating to somewhere on Camp Road, which is pretty close.  The only other business that I can think of still operating in there is the flooring store, which can probably move to a close, relatively inexpensive location without too much disruption.  There should not be a major increase in traffic in residential areas considering that it is already located on a major Southtowns artery, and access is pretty easy with maybe one extra traffic signal.  The location itself should be well placed to serve the Town and Village of Hamburg, especially the rapidly expanding population at the southwest end of Hamburg.  It should even be realtively easy to fill the old location at Seven Corners, considering its proximity to the McKinley Mall shopping area.

We all know there is probably already someone warming up their lawyer to fight this on some grounds.  But there really isn’t much that is horribly wrong with this.  I was acquainted with some of the concerns of those who filed a lawsuit against the building of the Wal-Mart at Seven Corners: overwhelming traffic, noise, and air quality issues.  I was there, and the only thing that really affected me was the rerouting of some bike and snowmobile trails that were back there.  Traffic on the major roadways in the area did increase somewhat, but the increase on Mckinley Parkway – which was the most residential area around there – was negligible in my estimation and probably due to the general increase in retail development further up the road by the mall more than anything else.  (Editor’s note, 3.23.2006:  My mother seems to remember that the traffic picked up a lot more than I remember, but the traffic on the smaller side streets were not affected at all.)

This project certainly deserves every bit of scrutiny that it will get to ensure everything is done the way it should be.  If there are any issues that need to be addressed, I encourage everyone to talk it out.  But in the end, this is as good a Wal-Mart project as we’re likely to get. 

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