FORT WORTH (CBSDFW.COM) – The City of Fort Worth is trying to settle a fight between a pedestrian-friendly community and a big business.
Wal-Mart wants to put a Neighborhood Market on the corner of Hemphill and Berry Street, but many residents oppose the idea because it does not fit in with their original vision.
For more than 15 years, the city has been trying to develop the area into an urban village.
“An urban village is where people can walk to stores, where you can ride bicycles, and there are coffee shops on the street, and meat markets, where people can meet and greet,” said resident Robert Snoke, “it’s something that’s excitingly healthy for communities.”
Snoke and other residents fear that vision will fade if the city allows Wal-Mart to turn an old church building into a Neighborhood Market.
“The enemy in redevelopment is settling for too little too soon,” said Joan Kline, who lives near the area and works in commercial real estate. “I know if you hold on to your vision it can happen.”
“Wal-Mart will suck the economic air out of an area,” Snoke added, “our grocery stores will be put out of business in favor of a huge super market, we’re not that kind of community.”
Some simply want Wal-Mart to change its building design to fit in more with the urban village concept, installing additional windows and improving the façade, but others believe a big box business will destroy the concept all together.
Land Development Consultant Christopher Bonilla disagreed. “I don’t think it’s going to put the mom and pops out of business, they have a long history of being there,” he said. “For ten years, there’s been absolutely no interest from investors or developers and I think an approval of the Wal-Mart would help stimulate the revitalization in that area.”
Many fear it won’t be the type of growth they want.
Wal-Mart did agree to some of the changes residents had requested. Consultants for the retailer asked the zoning commission for a change which would allow them to go ahead with their current design plans, but the commission chose to postpone any action for 30 days.
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