Walmart has submitted plans for its Georgia Avenue site, one of four planned stores it plans on opening in the District in the coming years. The submission officially kicks off the formal government review of the plan, known as a Large Tract Review and handled by the Office of Planning.
According to Ward 4 Councilwoman Muriel Bowser, the aim of the review is to ensure the project, proposed at Georgia and Missouri avenues, does not overburden existing infrastructure like roads, parking, water and sewer systems. The review process also requires that Walmart's plans conform to the city’s goal of ensuring a walkable neighborhood center at the intersection.
In her press release, Bowser said she is cautiously optimistic that the "plan goes a long way toward answering some of the community’s legitimate concerns about traffic, density, noise and parking.” She also has requested that any "burdens to existing infrastructure, or any negative impacts from increased traffic must be mitigated and paid for by Walmart."
But no mention is made of perhaps the biggest concern when Walmart announces it is moving into a community — what's to become of the small businesses already there? The Washington Examiner reported after Walmart's announcement last fall that business owners in the D.C. neighborhoods slated for a new Walmart were wary at best. And some were downright upset.
Expect to see a more vocal protest from affected businesses now that the process is officially kicking off. Walmart isn't unbeatable — just ask the historic preservationists in Virginia's Orange County who successfully rebuffed Walmart's plans to build a supercenter near the Wilderness Battlefield national park earlier this year.