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Wal-Mart reduces size of new store

BY SHANE ERSLAND | NOVEMBER 09, 2009 7:20 AM

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The Wal-Mart Supercenter set to be built in Iowa City will be smaller than the corporation initially planned, but many local residents said they want city officials to stop the facility altogether.

After additional building onto the current Iowa City store at 1001 Highway 1 W., the Wal-Mart Supercenter will cover 150,000 square feet of land — around 40,000 feet fewer than the company originally planned, said Ryan Irsik of Wal-Mart’s public-affairs department.

Gary Sanders, the chairman of the local Stop Wal-Mart campaign, said city officials should not allow the corporation to build a supercenter in Iowa City at all.

“It is still the worst corporation in America,” he said, noting many of the company’s executives are very wealthy.

Wal-Mart first expressed interest in building a supercenter on Ruppert Road near the Iowa City Airport in 2005. Stop Wal-Mart sued the city and told the Iowa City Board of Adjustments to stop the purchase, and in July 2006, the retail giant backed out because it didn’t want to be caught up in litigation any longer, Sanders said.

Jon Kinnamon, who is no longer involved with Stop Wal-Mart, was a member of the group that sued.

“I was concerned about the airport,” he said. “I didn’t want these businesses being placed in the vicinity of the runways.”

There were originally plans for smaller businesses to surround the supercenter at that location. Last year, the Iowa City City Council amended the multi-business zoning to allow Wal-Mart as the only business at the site, where the former Cub Foods and Staples buildings are located.

Sanders was critical of the corporation’s recent changes in planning.

“It’s ironic that after they went to such lengths to get the city to change the zoning agreement, now they’re back 14 months later with another request,” he said.

City Councilor Mike O’Donnell said the supercenter will bring employment opportunities to Iowa City.

“I’d like to see a Super Wal-Mart here. People like to shop there,” he said, adding Wal-Mart is creating two other commercial areas nearby.

Sanders agreed the store will create jobs, but said it would be nice if the employees could receive better benefits.

“Obviously it’s going to provide entry-level jobs for some people,” he said. “I never criticize Wal-Mart employees; for some it would be a good job. It would be good if [Wal-Mart] announced that everyone who works there would get better wages.”


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