FORT WORTH (CBSDFW.COM) – With a last-minute compromise, Wal-Mart won a contentious battle Tuesday night to build a new Neighborhood Market store in one of Fort Worth’s south side neighborhoods.
The city council voted 7-2 to approve Wal-Mart’s plan to build a new store at the corner of Hemphill and Berry. It will not be allowed to build in any fuel cells that would pave the way for gas pumps. It also has to leave green space along Berry Avenue for another building to be constructed.
That last portion of the agreement was intended to satisfy requirements of the Hemphill/Berry Urban Village, one of 13 a city task force identified in 2002. The concept promotes dense development that is favorable to walking and biking over driving. Buildings are not supposed to be more than 20 feet from the street, and there is supposed to be no parking lot between a building and the street.
The vote followed nearly two hours of public comment from a split crowd that filled two-thirds of the council chambers. Councilman Joel Burns originally proposed a compromise that would have also required Wal-Mart to forgo the use of 25 parking spaces that would be shared with the future building along Berry. The move was intended to encourage Wal-Mart to quickly find a developer for the space. A Wal-Mart spokesman, however, came back to the podium and said “This does not work for us. I’m sorry.”
That response prompted comments from Councilman Sal Espino and Mayor Betsy Price that a few parking spots should not hold up the potential for new development. The council voted to let Wal-Mart have the parking with only Burns and Jungus Jordan voting no.
Burns said after the vote that if the city did not intend to support its urban village plans then they should all be abolished.