Wal-Mart Presents Downsized Supercenter

The Sturgeon Bay Plan Commission recommended approval of the Wal-Mart Supercenter application for a Planned Unit Development Sept. 16 in a 4 – 3 vote. The recommendation came with the condition that the retailer improve traffic flow and directional signage.

Wal-Mart has reduced the size of its Supercenter plan by 28,000 feet.

The recommendation now goes to the city council for consideration.

The Wal-Mart design team submitted a new plan after a public hearing last month unearthed a real estate agreement that has the potential to block the Supercenter construction.

The new proposal scales the plan back to a 120,000 square foot store, a little less than double the size of the existing 67,357 square foot store, and about 20 percent less than the originally proposed 148,746 square foot Supercenter. It includes a similar façade design as the original plan but will only have one main customer entrance. The floor elevation was raised about seven feet, which would mean Wal-Mart would have to remove less rock and would create a smaller ‘cliff’ alongside St. Joseph’s cemetery and the back of the store. The new plan also reduces the number of parking spaces from the 675 originally planned to 555 (Target has 470 spaces), and removes some of the landscaping from the front of the building.

Shrinking the size of the store is a reflection of the economy and efforts to accommodate the community, said Wal-Mart attorney Debbie Tomczyk.

“This store has evolved in response to comments and concerns expressed by the community,” Tomczyk said. “Wal-Mart is changing its store designs and retail space designs and making efforts towards sustainability.”

The Easements with Covenants and Restrictions Affecting Land (ECR) agreement presented by Nash Finch Co. (a parent company of Econo Foods) at the plan commission meeting Aug. 19 was not a concern for Wal-Mart, according to Tomczyk.

“We’re happy to talk to any property owner who wants to discuss this plan,” Tomczyk said in response to questions on how the ECR would affect the construction of the proposed Supercenter.

Plan Commission Chairman Dennis Statz said he believes the beatings Wal-Mart has taken from communities around the country have finally made an impact.

“I perceive they’re trying to do more to fit into small communities and listen to what people are saying,” Statz said. “Bigger is not always necessarily better. One entrance to the building could reduce their long-term costs considerably and they can really focus on the efficiency of the space. My gut feeling is that this might be of a size that would heed well for Egg Harbor Road, and not necessarily take over the landscape.”

No departments have been eliminated from the proposed Wal-Mart Supercenter, just downsized, according to project architect Jacki Cook-Hasby of Benham Company, LLC.

“Instead of 20 boxes of one type of cereal on a shelf, now they’ll only have 10 boxes,” Cook-Hasby explained.

Questions about the need for a water tower to serve the proposed Wal-Mart have arisen, and Sturgeon Bay Utilities (SBU) is waiting to answer those questions.

“We don’t know if Wal-Mart is driving a need for a new water tower yet, because we don’t have the specifications relative to their store or their firefighting system,” said Jim Stawicki, general manager of SBU. “Based on the pressure and flow needs for their system, we’ll put that info into a hydraulic model that will tell us if we have ample capacity in that pressure zone.”

How much Wal-Mart will pay into the construction of a new water tower will be determined in a development agreement between the city and the retailer. Costs for any electrical upgrades or sewer improvements will be born by Wal-Mart.