Thursday, January 17, 2008

Wal-Mart plans at stand still...

Rumors have been running rampant lately that Wal-Mart is scrapping plans for a location along McKnight Road because of traffic issues. In a recent edition of the McKnight Journal, a Wal-Mart spokesman confirmed that their lease agreement with McCrackin Ford has been nixed, at least temporarily.

From the McKnight Journal:

Nearly a year after closing its doors, McCrackin Ford is looking for a new tenant -- and is out of its agreement with Wal-Mart.

The car dealership along McKnight Road closed in February 2007. At that time, Wal-Mart agreed to a contract with the owners that allowed them an option to purchase the property, which is adjacent to Chi-Chi's restaurant and the former Sam's Club site, both of which the mega-chain already owned, said Wal-Mart spokes-man Jim Davis.

However, that agreement was severed last month after its initial expiration, Davis said.

"We did drop the contract on the McCrackin Ford property, but it doesn't necessarily mean we won't go back to them with another offer," Davis said. "We're just evaluating our opportunities right now."


Davis added that the retailer was in the process of completing a traffic study along McKnight Road

I have been in talks with Dan DeMarco, Ross Township Commissioner, who said a meeting was held with Wal-Mart representatives but talks have since broken off. That leader contends they will only meet with the chain's representatives at a public meeting in the future.

The issue of traffic concerns remain a huge problem.

That DeMarco said:

They did meet with less than a quorum of Ross commissioners perhaps two months ago, but I have refused to meet with Wal-Mart unless it is in a meeting that is open to the public.

Indeed, one of their biggest challenges is traffic on McKnight Road. Any changes to traffic patterns, new traffic lights or a widening of McKnight Road to accommodate access to the site is for PennDOT to determine. I feel confident that PennDOT would want us involved in any such consideration.

As I said before, I will not meet with Wal-Mart officials unless it is in a meeting open to the public. If they are still interested in building on the site, it is too important of an issue for the public not to be heard.

If I get an update, I'll let you know.

Working to keep you posted...

13 comments:

Paul said...

Wow, revealing stuff about the lack of quality representation in Ross's government.

Aldi's snaps it fingers and Ross's council rolls-over and begs for them and wah-la their store is open. Walmart wants to open a place and they can't find enough road blocks to throw up.

So the message from Ross Township is if your company is a leader in the industry and actually generates jobs and tax revenue you're not welcome because you might attract TO MANY customers to your retail district. However if you're a penny-ante outfit that caters to ghetto crowd and helps foster the image that your neighborhood is in decline you're welcome.

Not to worry Mr. DeMarco, if you don't want Walmart there's a shit-load of land just a few miles up McKnight in McCandless that is about to be developed and I'm sure that community will have no problem with Walmart and very much appreciate the opportunity to bleed your McKnight Road retailers dry and fill their coffers with the tax revenue that used to be yours.

Typical small minded, short sighted Pittsburgh thinking there Dan!

Anonymous said...

Paul:

Having worked with other municipalities and with Wal-Mart, I think that you are being unfair to Mr. DeMarco. Given the history of Wal-Mart and other big-box discounters, it is perfectly reasonable to insist that all municipal planning meetings be open to the public.

Given Pennsylvania's problems with openness in government I would think that a sensible person would applaud anyone who argues that developments which could seriously impact traffic, safety and sanitation should be presented to the public for public consideration.

Furthermore, the PA Municipalities Planning Code requires this type of openness so DeMarco is simply complying with the law.

Nowhere has DeMarco said that he was opposed to the Wal-Mart. All that he has said is that any agreements/decisions to be made by the Commissioners should be vetted in public.

He is correct and that is the law.

Anonymous said...

Hey Mr. Demarco: What good does public hearings have on the commissioner decisions? Public opinion sure didn't mean anything on the Hearth/Trek project. Walmart you have enough money to sue the commissioners, you will get anything you want and more.

Anonymous said...

DeMarco probably wanted a little free TV time to get his face on news because he wants Lisa Bennington's seat in the state house.
There is another that will run that he can't beat.

Paul said...

"He is correct and that is the law.'

If I thought for a second Demarco had concern for the law as his motivating principal I'd impressed. The obvious question though is; why wasn't this a concern from the beginning and why were any meetings held in private?

It's pretty obvious that this is just a handy excuse now to derail the Walmart effort and cave to the anti-Walmart union propagandists without having to go on record as having done so.

The reality is that Walmart WILL be building a new Supercenter along the McKnight Road corridor within the next 18 to 24 months, anyone who doesn't see that is blind. The only question(s) left unanswered is will it be in Ross Twp at the site where three abandon properties now sit or will it be a few miles up the road in McCandless where the store will be the anchor of a new retail center that will suck the business away from Ross retailers and make those three properties just the first of many that will be empty.

Citing the legal issues and taking this route creates the perfect opportunity for DeMarco to appeal the anti-Walmart crowd in his run for higher office without being held directly accountable for the resulting decline in the Ross tax revenue and shuttered businesses in the community that will follow the appearance of Walmart in McCandless.

Lana Mazur and the Democrats on Ross council must be giddy at the prospect of the wave of dollar stores, checking cashing/payday loan stores, section 8 housing vouchers and expansion of public housing and new Democrat votes that will show up as a result.

I only wish someone in Shaler's government would have the sense to approach Walmart about all the unused land along route 8 and make that the new retail center that drive a stake through Ross's heart instead of waiting for McCandless to do it. Someone's going to benefit from Ross council's short-sightedness, so why not Shaler?

Not a fan of Demarco said...

Maybe Hearth/Trek can build more tax free housing on these sites. There is certainly enough room for all the 5000 "affordable housing units" that they say is needed in the North Hills. I'm sure the Ross Commissioners will give the OK.

Paul said...

Personally I not only find the traffic obstacle for Walmart to be completely disingenuous for a lot of reasons, the whole traffic issue along the McKnight corridor is total BS as well.

Sure there's a lot of traffic on the road but it always moves smoothly, I've never once found myself stuck and not moving on the road as I have in many other places around the city and the roads are engineered well enough that you don't see box blocking and crap like that.

Anyone who thinks McKnight has bad traffic problems needs to try doing a three hour crawl on a Saturday afternoon from the Montour Road exit through the Fort Pitt Tunnels, spend a couple evening rush hours trying to get out of downtown through either the Liberty Tubes, Fort Pitt or Squirrel Hill Tunnels.

Heck, on a week day evening it used to take me longer to travel up Murray Avenue and turn onto Forbes than it's ever taken me to travel any length of McKnight.

Melanie said...

This is bad news. Now I will have to drive a long distance whenever I get a hankerin' for a confederate flag, NASCAR junk, lead-ridden toys for my young'n's, 'God Bless America' car magnets, other stuff made in sweatshops, and ammo. Shoot.

Paul said...

"This is bad news. Now I will have to drive a long distance whenever I get a hankerin' for a confederate flag, NASCAR junk, lead-ridden toys for my young'n's, 'God Bless America' car magnets, other stuff made in sweatshops, and ammo. Shoot."

That's funny, like many of my neighbors we drive to Pittsburgh Mills once a week to grocery shop at that Walmart Super Center and we never buy any of those things.

The food and household goods we buy are exactly the same products, manufactured in the very same places as those we used to buy at Giant Eagle... without the 35% markup to pay for union slugs to crap on us as they lazily drag them across a barcode scanner.

But you be my guest and pay the extra money to make a high paying career out of zero skill labor performed by the funtionally illiterate with entitlement attitudes... I'd rather save the 35% on my grocery bills.

Anonymous said...

As a daily commuter I must disagree with the person who suggested there is no traffic problems on McKnight. While McKnight is BY FAR better than virtually any main artery in the surrounding area, it ain't no picnic. This is especially true on the rush hour drive home and during weekend shopping hours. Any place where I spend more total minutes stopped at lights than I do in motion is a problem in my book. I would beg the question, why should we even consider making it worse by slapping a Wal-Mart right in the middle of it without any considerations of traffic?
Don't get me wrong. As a resident of McCandless I was looking forward to a WM going in there, as it would be convenient and, frankly, NIMBY. My house currently overlooks the Showcase/Trader Horn lot and the LAST thing I would want is the noise and light pollution if a WM were to go there instead. But traffic HAS to be an important consideration. things should get BETTER as a result of WM going into McKnight, not worse.

A side note for the author of this fine blog...what's going on with the closure of many stores in RP Mall? I hear that Children's Place, Talbots Kids, and Gloria Jeans coffee are all leaving, and a rumor was afloat that Nordstroms told the Mall owners to kick that Riffraff out because they conflicted with the vision Nordstroms had of total mall domination. What's the scoop there?

Anonymous said...

In response to the above comment, I work at the mall and this is what I've heard. Supposedly Nordstrom has been weeding out the stores they don't like, and told others to remodel or get packing. Talbots Kids is leaving because the Mens and Kids chapters of Talbots are closing nation-wide. Gloria Jeans, Children's Place, Finish Line, Bombay Company, Limited, amongst others are leaving (or already gone). So far Burberry, a 2 floor Tiffany & Company, Michael Kors, Juicy Couture, Starbucks (inside Nordstrom), L.L.Bean, Louis Vuitton, Crate & Barrel, and PF Changs have been confirmed.

Jeff said...

Hey guys,

I don't know how often Dan DeMarco visits this comment section. I will tell him to visit and will try to get an interview with him.

If there are any questions you have, please E-mail me at sirfuller@hotmail.com

Paul said...

What ever one's thoughts on the traffic on McKnight, they're all pretty much irrelevant to the issue.

Bottom line for Ross is that it currently has three huge tracts of land connected were tax paying businesses used to exist and another down the road at the old Hollywood Video site...

Does the township prefer they remain empty to alleviate traffic problems? Probably not. If you want that space utilized and returned to the tax rolls then they're going to have to deal with the traffic one way or another. There's going to be a Super Walmart built along the McKnight corridor like it or not so why not kill two birds with one stone and put a retailer on the site that's going to make money and be there for awhile?

Or they can cave to the dopey anti-Walmart propagandists and let someone else have it while they figure out how to get along with less tax revenue.