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Workforce, business development creates jobs, not Walmart

Last week, the DC Council passed an act that requires big box retailers to pay a living wage, and Walmart threatened not to build 3 of 6 planned stores here. Opponents say it's proof that the Large Retailer Accountability Act will kill jobs, but there are better, proven ways to encourage economic development.


Photo by dno1967b on Flickr.

Economic development experts know what works: a long term coordinated strategy around workforce development and business development. This approach has successfully revitalized downtown and other once-blighted corridors what works. But Deputy Mayor for Economic Development Victor Hoskins has focused on cutting deals that get headlines, whether or not they produce results.

We don't need Walmart to revitalize DC's underserved neighborhoods, and we can still reduce unemployment while insisting that large retailers pay their employees enough to make a decent living.

Requiring a living wage won't increase unemployment

Earlier this month, I met with Mayor Vincent Gray for 45 minutes to discuss unemployment. He's one of the foremost experts in unemployment in DC, and he understands that unemployment in DC is caused by poor workforce readiness, not a lack of jobs. Only 28% of DC's jobs go to DC residents.

Gray is responsible for several initiatives that will help reduce unemployment in DC, like starting UDC Community College, reconstituting the Workforce Investment Council and One City One Hire. The job prospects of unemployed residents relies more on these initiatives than it does on Walmart. After all, even if Walmart offers new jobs, residents can't fill them if they're not trained to be good employees.

One challenge in addressing unemployment is job retention. DC has a far lower job retention rate than other states. Economists have demonstrated that low wages have a significant impact on job retention, and that raising the minimum wage increases job retention.

This is particularly true with low-skilled service class jobs. Leisure, hospitality, and retail jobs are the fastest growing source of jobs in DC and nationwide for low-skilled workers. But they are usually crappy jobs that offer little to no path to a living wage, let alone the middle class.

Urban researcher Richard Florida says part of the answer is to make service jobs better by requiring employers to pay a living wage:

Two kinds of jobs are growing in great cities - highpaying knowledge, professional and creative jobs, and low skill low pay contingent service jobs. Inequality is growing and our cities are increasingly divided. A higher minimum wage is an important part of a badly new urban social compact which values workers and raises wages. It can be a first step toward viewing workers as a source of innovation and creativity.
To that end, Mayor Gray has launched several little-noticed initiatives to train unemployed workers for hospitality and retail jobs. They produce the kind of workers that retailers who pay living wages and require a low-turnover, high-value workforce want to hire.

But there's a disconnect between Gray's workforce development strategy and the Office of the Deputy Mayor for Economic Development (DMPED), the city's economic development agency. For all its merits, DMPED's 5-year economic development plan says little about workforce development. The reconstituted Workforce Investment Council, while technically housed in DMPED, does not actually collaborate in DMPED projects.

Gray's workforce experts would tell DMPED that the city needs businesses that have re-engineered their retail and hospitality positions for higher value, who will use the pipelines we are creating to train workers who can deliver that value. Many studies show that a higher minimum wage results in higher-quality service jobs, which lead to greater job stability and less unemployment.

Economic development of Ward 7 doesn't depend on Walmart

Walmart says they will cancel 3 proposed stores if LRAA is passed: one at New York Avenue and Bladensburg Road NE in Ward 5, and one each in the Capital Gateway and Skyland Town Center developments in Ward 7. Residents have anticipated all 3 projects for years, especially Skyland.

Ward 7 resident Charles Crews says there is much more that the city could be doing. "It's horrible how they aren't working on beautification of the ward," he says. "There's trash, and the buildings are not maintained at all. This creates an attitude among residents that Walmart is the best we can do".

But do these neighborhoods, especially those in Ward 7, need Walmart for economic development? According to councilmember and mayoral candidate Jack Evans, who led the economic development of downtown DC, 14th Street NW, and other distressed and blighted corridors, they don't. "People are looking for the silver bullet," Evans said, "but there is no silver bullet. You need a long term plan."

Evans cites Georgetown as one example. "Georgetown used to be the same, trash everywhere. The way you change that is the BID concept," he says, referring to Business Improvement Districts. He proposes creating publicly-funded BIDs in Ward 7 neighborhoods to make them more attractive to businesses, while hiring local residents to keep streets clean.

From there, he would offer targeted subsidies for retailers who want to locate there. This was hugely successful in Ward 2 and produced both economic and non-economic returns for the city. Today, Ward 7 receives fewer economic development subsidies than nearly any part of town, according to a report from the CFO's office.


Ward 7 gets few economic development subsidies.

Ward 7 resident Kendrick Jackson says that the city has been unwilling to partner with small businesses, like a coworking space and a coffeeshop, who could really make a difference in his community.

"The city should be working with them with incentives and assistance, but instead they are having to deal with obstacles at DCRA [the Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs]," he says. "I would rather see attractive small retailers that would draw people to the area than something like Home Depot that brings a giant parking lot. But the city doesn't see small retailers as part of their plan for ward 7."

Evans says that after a city-led beautification and public space project, he is confident he could provide subsidies to the right retailers to set up in Ward 7. This is the type of long-term planning that results in sustained economic development, and it features prominently in a document put together by the DC Office of Planning and Bethesda-based retail consultants Streetsense last year called the Vibrant Streets Toolkit, which offers advice for DC's struggling business districts.

Edwin Jones, pastor of Living Faith Baptist Church and resident of Ward 7, supports Councilmember Evans' proposal. "That's how the plan should work, instead of just accepting Walmart," he says. "It's that kind of plan that improves the community and includes the residents in the community."

Will Gray challenge his economic development team to give him a real plan for Ward 7 that combines business and workforce development? Or will he perpetuate a culture in his economic development agency that reduces development to dealmaking that produces headlines?

Ken Archer is CTO of a software firm in Tysons Corner. He commutes to Tysons by bus from his home in Georgetown, where he lives with his wife and son. Ken completed a Masters degree in Philosophy from The Catholic University of America. 

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Big employers in DC are feds, multilaterals, university and health care.

As far as I can tell, few are EOTR.

by charlie on Jul 22, 2013 11:07 am • linkreport

The "booming" retail in and around the Washington Convention Ctr, in Ward 2, is a good example of what Evans has done in Shaw and will do for Ward 7 and 8 when he replaces Mayor Gray. Evans has also been free of criminal scandals during his peerless tenure on the Council. It's also good for business and the city when government officials aren't under a cloud of federal investigations that pale their good work into insignificance.

by Havok on Jul 22, 2013 11:11 am • linkreport

charlie: That's great. The article, though, took the time to focus on small employers, not big ones. Therefore, I fail to see your point.

by Geoffrey Hatchard on Jul 22, 2013 11:14 am • linkreport

We could create lots of jobs if we just passed legislation to force everyone on public assistance to work for big box retailers for five cents an hour.

The type of job matters.

by oboe on Jul 22, 2013 11:16 am • linkreport

I agree that Walmart is not the savior of EOTR. But making rules that big box retailers have to pay more is the sort of micromanaging that drives business nuts, big and small, and discourages investment.

by SJE on Jul 22, 2013 11:20 am • linkreport

The problem that you have is how do you bring the sort of development found in other areas of the District without displacing those who live there? Using a similar development plan used on 14th street and Georgetown is problematic, if not impossible. In those areas, you had high incomes and highly educated people living in close proximity to those commercial areas. The long-term fix for EOTR includes a more holistic approach to education and providing strong and focused job training.

Ken, not sure how you split what Victor Hoskins is doing from the Mayor. I mean, Hoskins works for the Mayor and is doing what he wants, right?

by Randall M. on Jul 22, 2013 11:22 am • linkreport

@Geoffrey Hatchard; the point is that there is no golden rule that throwing investment money at W7 and 8 is going to improve employment outcomes in those areas.

The problem is a huge mismatch between the type of employers you have in the area and the people who live there.

(The advantage of walmart is while the skill set on paper matches w7 and w8, in reality the long term unemployeed there ares still not qualified to work at walamrt, regardless of the pay.)

Layman has postulted that we are spending several billion a year on the DC budget on EOTR. When you throw in Medicaid is is probably half of the DC budget being spent there.

by charlie on Jul 22, 2013 11:34 am • linkreport

@ SJE

I also have problems with Walmart in that I'm either a fan of their business practices or products so I just don't shop there. That said, if they want to open up stores that have jobs in a few areas that have intractable ills that we haven't been able to fix, the District should have milked Walmart dry for community benefits and wage guarantees FIRST.

by Randall M. on Jul 22, 2013 11:36 am • linkreport

charlie: Thanks for making your point more clearly now. I think I wouldn't have had my question had you articulated it that way initially.

by Geoffrey Hatchard on Jul 22, 2013 11:39 am • linkreport

Agreed with Randall and SJE.

Whatever the council was trying to accomplish with the Living Wage bill, it certainly wasn't in the best interests of the people of DC. We scared a shitty employer into setting up shop a mile down the road into Maryland, where they'll sell their goods to the same people, employ the same workers, and divert tax revenues to a different state.

I don't like Wal-Mart's labor practices, but the DC Government is in no position to actually change that. I fear that the Living Wage Bill (and the entire Wal-Mart debacle) are going to cast a very negative light on DC in the business community.

(And I say this as somebody who never shops at Wal-Mart, and believes that we should more than double the minimum wage. Workers rights are great, but the Living Wage Bill never had a chance of actually improving conditions for any actual workers)

by andrew on Jul 22, 2013 11:41 am • linkreport

I always understood that having Wal-Mart come to DC was to provide more/better retail options to the city (especially for fresh produce where no one else was selling it). I'm confused why this "debacle" is all about providing living-wage jobs now.

by Rich on Jul 22, 2013 11:54 am • linkreport

@Rich

The arguments remain the same whether your goal is reducing unemployment or adding retail options. Neither depend on Walmart, and Hoskins' claims to the contrary are evidence of what he hasn't done to promote economic development.

Ken

by Ken Archer on Jul 22, 2013 12:08 pm • linkreport

"We don't need Walmart to revitalize DC's underserved neighborhoods, and we can still reduce unemployment while insisting that large retailers pay their employees enough to make a decent living."

The last 14 years has been one, long sustained "gold rush" in the District. Collectively, the District Government collected nearly 3.5 billion in budget surpluses. There has also been nearly 200 billion spent in private development (commercial/residential/retail)investment during that time in this tiny little town of ~620K.

And yet Wards 7 and 8 remain vastly underserved. Private money, which has been hauled into DC by the trainload the past ~14 years, wants nothing to do with these areas. Full stop.

The District Government has spent nearly 40 million dollars on Skyland alone since 2005 and nothing. The mayor had to literally blackmail Walmart to get them to agree to build there, and now through this childish 11th hour formation of the Walmart Hit Brigade, courtesy of the Giant and Safeway Union Lobby, this areas one opportunity in the past 14 years has just been destroyed.

So I ask you, if after all that time, and all that money and Wards 7 and 8 are still in the underserved, awful condition they are in, how EXACTLY are you going to provide the jobs suited for the unemployed/underemployed of the Ward and foster economic growth, if as you say "Walmart isn't necessary".

by EOTR on Jul 22, 2013 12:17 pm • linkreport

I realize that people don't like big box retail (see "I would rather see attractive small retailers that would draw people to the area than something like Home Depot that brings a giant parking lot." above), but it is here to stay. That is how people spend money; and its economic advantages for certain things is undeniable.

Given that, why fight it? and expecting small business to lead the way for a revival EotR is not realistic.

by goldfish on Jul 22, 2013 12:24 pm • linkreport

@EOTR,

The 2nd half of the article is an answer to your question, from me, CM Evans and 3 W7 resudents. What part do you disagree with?

Ken

by Ken Archer on Jul 22, 2013 12:26 pm • linkreport

@ Ken

Clearly, Walmart isn't the best option but it is an option. I'd rather Giant or Safeway build stores in this area but they didn't. Why, because it didn't make economic sense to them. If the District provided them with a massive subsidy, maybe. That didn't happen and hasn't happened for decades.

I know people who live close by the East Capitol location. They don't share your view, they like the ideas of jobs (even relatively low wage one's) and of walking to get fresh food instead of getting in a car or bus to travel miles and pay a disproportionally higher price for food.

Walmart and big box stores like will provide a short-term fix: They'll provide low skill jobs to people with low skills, they'll serve as an anchor for other development, sort of like Target and Giant did for Columbia Heights, they'll keep a few tax dollars from going to Maryland and Virginia as District residents who make the mistake to shop at Walmart to spend hear.

Again, I don't like Walmart and I don't shop there but I can see how they can be a short-term benefit if properly exploited.

by Randall M. on Jul 22, 2013 12:34 pm • linkreport

"What part do you disagree with?"

I'm not a huge fan of walmart, but I would start with the implication that a BID works magic regardless of other forces at play. ISTM that a BID works where landowners see significant upside opportunity but where the things BIDS provide - in terms of street cleaning, some incremental security, marketing, and public events, can put the area over the top. I don't know that anyplace in W7 or W8 is at that point.

by AWalkerInTheCIty on Jul 22, 2013 12:36 pm • linkreport

The problems EOTR are not solely about employment opportunities and business location. A bigger problem is that too many residents EOTR do not meet the skills required of most area employers, forcing them to the lowest paid service jobs. It would be better to encourage human capital development so that these people can compete for better paid jobs, instead of artificially raising the minimum wage which could have the perverse effect of making the least educated unemployable.

by SJE on Jul 22, 2013 12:39 pm • linkreport

And yet Wards 7 and 8 remain vastly underserved. Private money, which has been hauled into DC by the trainload the past ~14 years, wants nothing to do with these areas.

I don’t think that’s true. I see new development when you drive through these wards, people who have grown up there have told me that there’s been a lot of change, and I’ve definitely seen more interest in real estate there. Yes, the development has been lagging behind the rest of DC, but it’s quite evident if you spend some time in the area. And once the areas reputation for crime (often cited here as the reason people don’t consider moving there) diminishes, you’ll see a rush to buy up undervalued property (which has already started, to some extent).

I don’t see much evidence for the idea that DC’s sixth Wal-Mart is needed to save the day. In fact, I see a lot of evidence to the contrary.

by Chatham on Jul 22, 2013 12:43 pm • linkreport

Ken,

So the solution is:

1. Spend more money on parks, then retail will come! (Umm, ok then)
2. Simplify DCRA, cause its just too darn complicated (the other 200 billion in construction that funneled its way through DCRA the past 14 years seems to have figured it out).

Is that really it? Are those the breakthrough ideas that 3 different mayoral administrations over 14 years, and hundreds of billions in private equity failed to see and the only reason Government money has had zero effect EOTR, and private money has no interest?

If thats the "hail mary" play, then I think you and Evans need to go back to the drawing board.

by EOTR on Jul 22, 2013 12:46 pm • linkreport

#1 Get rid of minor drug offenses that make people "unemployable"
#2 Push many more kids into alternative high school environments that focus on jobs skills. Not talking about the kids that have any realistic shot at college, just the rest of them. We're not doing them any favors by making them take English or History classes they have no interest in.
#2a Make it very easy to get a GED. Perhaps tie GED after the age of 19(?) completion to a fixed term entry level city job (not necessarily high paying but stable for maybe a year) contingent upon adequate performance.
#3 More transit = jobs = middle class = healthy economy (I might be biased on that one)
#4 In the very long term we need to fix the housing problem, instability makes it really hard for kids that are already on the edge to recover from multiple relocations.
#5 Fix daycare. Apparently it costs way more than I thought possible (upwards of $1000 a month for one kid during the week). If women are out of the workforce for 5-15 years raising kids because daycare if prohibitive what chance do they have to get back into decent jobs after that. I definitely think having kids early + not being to afford daycare can = no work history and lifelong welfare candidate.

by Alan B. on Jul 22, 2013 12:59 pm • linkreport

I’m not terribly moved by the argument that we need Wal-Mart to deliver produce to these areas:

The announcement comes on the heels of complaints that Wal-Mart isn't staffing its stores with enough employees to stock shelves efficiently or manage produce, resulting in complaints about the freshness of fruits and vegetables on display. As The New York Times reported in April, internal Wal-Mart memos showed the company struggling with "low customer confidence in its produce and poor quality."

by Chatham on Jul 22, 2013 1:20 pm • linkreport

Economic development of Ward 7 doesn't depend on Walmart...He proposes creating publicly-funded BIDs in Ward 7 neighborhoods to make them more attractive to businesses, while hiring local residents to keep streets clean...From there, he would offer targeted subsidies for retailers who want to locate there...Evans says that after a city-led beautification and public space project, he is confident he could provide subsidies to the right retailers to set up in Ward 7.

1. Are those BID jobs sweeping streets going to be paying a living wage and teaching employees skills?

2. There's quite a contrast here. On one hand is economic development that extracts community benefits from the employer (Walmart in this case). On the other hand are subsidies and public assistance, essentially paying businesses to create jobs. I wonder if any of these businesses receiving the planned subsidies and assistance will be contributing to CM Evans' campaign? Also, the retailers receiving the subsidies will not be paying a living wage either.

3. Ken Archer put it best when he wrote "Let's attract companies with our workers, not with subsidies"

http://greatergreaterwashington.org/post/15271/lets-attract-companies-with-our-workers-not-with-subsidies/

by Falls Church on Jul 22, 2013 1:25 pm • linkreport

Anyone who reads the data underlying Ken's blogpost would recognize that Walmart is not the solution for DC's chronically underemployed.

Here's another source of data, hot off this morning's blogpost from Paul Krugman:

http://graphics8.nytimes.com/images/2013/07/22/opinion/072212krugman1/072212krugman1-blog480.png

That chart compares the "top ten metro areas by population," according to Krugman, and shows the relationship between one measure of "sprawl" and the rate of "upward mobility" in those areas. That chart shows the DC metro area is currently doing fairly well, close to Boston and Los Angeles in terms of mobility and close to Philadelphia, Miami and Boston in terms of sprawl. DC's metro area is slightly better than Chicago in terms of sprawl and significantly better than Chicago in terms of upward mobility.

If you are willing to admit that the Walmart "big-box" model is the epitome of "sprawl," you can easily see that Walmart's development model will NOT improve DC's upward mobility.

Krugman's blogpost from Monday morning is here:

http://krugman.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/07/22/did-sprawl-kill-horatio-alger/

by Green Eyeshade on Jul 22, 2013 1:33 pm • linkreport

As a (perhaps) interesting aside, I saw the Nine Lives of Marion Barry last week. It came up that he was instrumental (in his pre Mayor incarnation) in a lot of workforce development in the District. Kind of fills in the blanks for some of us "newcomers" regarding his popularity. Although I also think he got some (perhaps not entirely due) credit for being around when good government jobs actually become open to black people in the 70s post- Civil Rights Movement.

by Alan B. on Jul 22, 2013 1:34 pm • linkreport

If you are willing to admit that the Walmart "big-box" model is the epitome of "sprawl," you can easily see that Walmart's development model will NOT improve DC's upward mobility.

So, is your primary concern that not all of Walmart's stores are planned to be urban format such as their NJ Ave store? Here is GGW's description of that Walmart:

Located on the fringes of downtown, it is appropriately dense and mixed-use. The building will be five floors, with small format retail lining the H Street sidewalk, Wal-Mart behind, parking underground, and 315 apartments on the upper floors.

By putting the main entrance to Wal-Mart and several smaller stores directly on H Street, this building will help pull together the extant retail districts to the east and west. It will contribute significantly to the growth of H Street as a major continuous shopping district running from the CityCenter development at the old convention center site, through Chinatown, and then east to the Atlas District.

The architects deserve credit too. Unlike the Target at DCUSA, which has a plain, strip mall-like facade, the Wal-Mart proposal here calls for a building with traditional, human-scale details. Cornices, individual multi-pane windows, an interesting corner feature at the main entrance, and a thoughtful elevator shaft. This is a fully urban, fully pedestrian friendly building.

All the familiar social and economic questions about Wal-Mart remain, but urbanistically and architecturally, this proposal hits the mark.

http://greatergreaterwashington.org/post/8277/will-wal-mart-be-urban-part-3-new-jersey-avenue/

I think it's reasonable to push big box stores for better store designs (like the one above) rather than push big box stores out of the city with the living wage bill.

by Falls Church on Jul 22, 2013 1:54 pm • linkreport

DC's black middle class has been employed in government jobs (schools, in particular) and a wide variety of retail jobs since the 1940s. DC's local economy was NOT afflicted by "Jim Crow" segregation the way the deep south was. I am not claiming that DC's black middle class did not suffer from racism, I am saying only that DC's black middle class was very stable and self-sufficient between the world wars and for twenty years after World War II. The assassination of Martin Luther King in April 1968, and the riots that followed, destroyed a huge swath of downtown retail businesses. It was the long-term damage from those riots, and the repeated recessions of the seventies, eighties, nineties and the oughts, that required the "long-term" effort to rebuild the 14th Street corridor that Ken's article mentions.

by Green Eyeshade on Jul 22, 2013 2:08 pm • linkreport

When data is presented in the comments here at GGW, I believe it is customary to respond to the data instead of pointing at bright, shiny objects speeding past the window.

Empirical data from a publication today showing that "sprawl" is highly correlated with relatively reduced "upward mobility" in the ten most populated metropolitan areas of the United States is not in any way undermined or refuted by a three-year old architectural review of a "proposal" from Walmart for one store out of six stores that Walmart allegedly planned to build in DC. Walmart has exploited "sprawl" across the entire United States and is directly responsible for DOWNWARD mobility because of its predatory suppression of wages, discrimination against women, reduction of hours, refusal to pay overtime, and deliberate understaffing of its stores (resulting in reduced hours of paid work per week).

by Green Eyeshade on Jul 22, 2013 2:17 pm • linkreport

Green Eyeshade, it's paternalistic (or materialistic) of you to assume a Walmart job represents downward mobility for everyone else. Large swaths of EOTR communities have lived off government subsidies for generations. A Walmart job, even with its "predatory" wage (meaningless in this context) would be an important step on the economic ladder for many no matter how low it may seem from your perspective.

by Dno on Jul 22, 2013 2:49 pm • linkreport

FWIW, only 7 of DC's census tracts qualify as "food deserts" according to the USDA. Walmart's proposed stores would impact very few of these (the one on E. Capitol would have the most effect). (None of the areas served by the underway stores in W4 and W6 touch any of these tracts.)

It's hard to say what to do about EOTR. The "Marshall Plan" concept paper that I hope to produce by the end of the year is much more a long term kind of project. The structurally unemployed need a lot more help ("caseworkers" assigned to households, with just a few households as their case load) than a couple of developments or employing a few hundred people will do. Most of them are incapable of being employed by Walmart without a few years of training/socialization.

Skyland's plan doesn't call for adding a whole lot of new residents, so there isn't enough population in two wards (approx. 160,000, and poor) to support two Walmarts, but I was thinking that it's sort of the kind of opportunity posed by the proximity of Shadyside and Squirrel Hill in Pittsburgh to Penn-Libery and because S and SH have no real developable land and retailers want to be there, instead they located in the space immediately next to it, but in an otherwise sh***y area, but ONLY BECAUSE they had no other options. And part of the "sh***y" area is only two blocks from Shadyside. But it does improve P-L while still being attractive to the upper scale households nearby who want to shop at Trader Joes, Whole Foods, Home Depot, etc.

Similarly, Meijer has just announced a store to be built in Detroit, but right on the Detroit side of the border with Oakland County (8 Mile Road). The store is designed really for access to Oakland County, but with lower land costs in an area with otherwise limited development options, just like the PGH case.

And Harris-Teeter will be doing something sort of similar, building a store in DC as part of a Douglas Dev. project right on the DC-Maryland border on Eastern Ave. at Georgia Ave. My sense for this project is that H-T's primary motivation is access to Silver Spring, with the added benefit of serving Upper NW DC as well. But this part of DC is nothing like the Detroit-Oakland County thing. (The Detroit example is probably a bit more comparable to Skyland.)

As much as the Hillcrest residents are full of themselves in terms of what they think is their economic capacity to support retail, they themselves aren't enough to drive significant retail improvement for EOTR. (It'd be hard for any neighborhood. The needs are big!)

Plus in our region, we don't have a company like Meijer. Even if Kroger were to give Harris-Teeter the ability to do Marketplace stores (like Fred Meyer, and Kroger now uses the Meyer experience to do the same type of store development of "Marketplace" stores, like the walmart supercenter, for other divisions of the company), it would be years before they have this capacity and even then H-T is the wrong company to try to do this in DC.

So a part of the problem is that "retail-driven revitalization" on the East Coast has limited numbers of companies. In the discount category, only Walmart has any juice. We don't have ShopKo out here and Kmart is basically dying.

The one supermarket I could see entering this market would be ShopRite/PriceRite, if they had a firm in the area that wanted to enter the market. But I doubt it, too much risk and investment required for limited ROI.

This firm is a nonprofit division of a Shoprite member and they work with inner city operators and markets.

http://www.upliftsolutions.org/

by Richard Layman on Jul 22, 2013 2:55 pm • linkreport

Falls Church -- FWIW, that's why I am hyper-disappointed but totally unsurprised with DC City Council. I probably don't support this bill. Such provisions could have been included maybe, but I advocated for a "big box review ordinance" that would address urban design, delivery and other transportation elements, economic impact and mitigation protocols if necessary, etc.

Instead, DC is doing a bill that's a sop to the unions. Hey, Walmart needs to be dinged on how they deal with labor, absolutely. But for the long term, the other issues are more important, and DC isn't doing squat about those issues.

by Richard Layman on Jul 22, 2013 3:00 pm • linkreport

Green Eyeshade: the data you presented is too weak to support your conclusion.
1. The plot of weighted pop. density vs. *upward* mobility does not imply the opposite, that sprawl = *downward* mobility.
2. The connection of Walmart to sprawl is tenuous at best. Here is a list of the top 100 US retailers. Walmart is the largest, but there are many other big-box retailers. It is unfair to attribute sprawl to Walmart when there are many other retailers that contribute. Also there are other causes of sprawl, such as the need to expand manufacturing and locate it to major highway crossroads.
3. Notable on that list of retailers is #15, Amazon, which has no bricks-and-mortar, but yet has contributed to the decline of the same and also to the demise of many urban retail areas.
4. The data in Krugman's plot is thin (only 10 data points) and the correlation is pretty weak. Moreover it does not any smaller cities where the real sprawling happens.

You want to blame urbane ills on Walmart you need better data. Of course, the decline of EotR DC from its golden suburban years in the 50s occurred without any help from big-box retail.

by goldfish on Jul 22, 2013 3:04 pm • linkreport

The discussion of Wal-Mart fails to address the real attraction of inner city neighborhoods to WM: most of their profits now derive from check cashing and wire transfers and now they've added the cashcards. They're mostly interested in taking whatever they can from people who aren't served by banks. they're increasing use of outsourced labor increases the likelihood that they will not be of much use to lifting the prospects of DC's unemployed in the future.

Building an economy requires more than backroom deals with large low wage businesses. Incentives tend to attract low wage businesses looking for handouts and they're the first to leave when things don't go well or someone offers more handouts. WM has no trouble leaving empty stores that towns that lost their retail can't fill. I wouldn't be surprised if they eventually gave us legacies like the Rhode Island Avenue shopping center.

by Rich on Jul 22, 2013 3:13 pm • linkreport

@Rich, "They're mostly interested in taking whatever they can from people who aren't served by banks." That definitely sounds to me like being a cause of "downward mobility." Thanks for that reminder. Not only does Walmart engage in predatory employment practices, it engages in PREDATORY LENDING as well. waddda deal! two, two, two kinds of predation in one giant mega-conglomerate!

by Green Eyeshade on Jul 22, 2013 3:24 pm • linkreport

@goldfish, what you don't like is what Krugman concluded.

1. Krugman made the inference, not me. He says he needs to see the full data, but based on the partial data he found in the Leonhardt article he linked to, Krugman drew that inference. And he was clear that it is a "correlation," not necessarily a cause-and-effect relationship.

2. I would love to see Walmart claim it does not take advantage of (I said "exploit") "sprawl," as defined by Krugman (population-weighted density). If Walmart exploits sprawl -- but doesn't cause it -- at a minimum Walmart is exploiting a development model that does indeed have a high correlation to lower social mobility.

3. The reference to Amazon is obscure. What kind of wages and benefits does Amazon provide? Who told you Amazon does not have extremely large physical facilities?

4. Again, you disagree with what I said Krugman's data showed, but it appears you didn't read the Krugman link. Here is what he said about causality: "Is the relationship causal? You can easily think of reasons for spurious correlation: sprawl is associated with being in the sunbelt, with voting Republican, with having weak social safety net programs, etc.. Still, it’s striking."

by Green Eyeshade on Jul 22, 2013 3:34 pm • linkreport

The suggestion that Walmart's predatory wage practices are "meaningless" falls flat in the context of a discussion of the wages Walmart will pay and the economic effects of Walmart's into a retail market. The suggestion seems to be that Walmart's predatory wages are not predatory if the workers receiving those wages would otherwise receive zero wages. That suggestion combines two common logical fallacies, both reductio ad absurdam and a false premise.

It is absurd to reduce the scope of the comparison to a choice between zero wages and a minimum wage job, because Walmart often refuses unlawfully to pay even minimum wage or equal pay for equal work. It is chronically guilty of wage theft and forcing workers to work unpaid overtime, and it has been sued repeatedly for sex discrimination arising from violations of the equal pay act. Workers are NOT better off being employed at a nominally minimum wage job if the workers are mistreated and abused while barely collecting that minimum wage. Residents with no job give up substantial government protection and incur actual expenses (transportation, clothing, grooming) by taking a "full time" job, and if the employer providing that job is a serial abuser and wage thief, workers could end up worse off than if they were never hired by Walmart.

The false premise is that only the workers are the victims of Walmart's predatory wage practices. Walmart's predatory wages are predatory because Walmart extracts low-cost work by underpaying its workers and FORCING GOVERNMENT (i.e., taxpayers) TO COVER THE GAP BETWEEN THE PREDATORY WAGE AND THE COST OF LIVING, with food stamps, Medicaid, and other hidden government subsidies.

by Green Eyeshade on Jul 22, 2013 3:59 pm • linkreport

Really, if Safeway had any balls left -- they sold most of them for $5 on Friday -- they'd be telling Rappaport they would LOVE to build a supermarket at Skyland.

by charlie on Jul 22, 2013 4:03 pm • linkreport

Ken,

Thank you for bringing a serious economic development perspective to the issue. I think a missing part of this story has been a discussion of why retail has stayed away from Ward 7 so far.

The problem is not high costs; it is the perceived nature of the local market. Hoskins and the Skyland developers have admitted as much. I'm not sure why they are acting like the living wage is the problem--it just suggests to me that they are listening too closely to Walmart and are too obsessed with cutting the deal. The best way to address a lack of retail is to improve the market through smart investments in the community and to increase local purchasing power by encouraging quality employment.

by George on Jul 22, 2013 4:19 pm • linkreport

"Really, if Safeway had any balls left -- they sold most of them for $5 on Friday -- they'd be telling Rappaport they would LOVE to build a supermarket at Skyland."

Wait, what? You mean from across the street where they are right now? That would set a new record of failure in these mass eminent domain proceedings. Take all that property and shut down all the businesses that were there - just so Safeway could move across the street. Of course there is more than just retail planned for Skyland, but still!

by h st ll on Jul 22, 2013 4:23 pm • linkreport

@Green Eyeshade: First you wrote
If you are willing to admit that the Walmart "big-box" model is the epitome of "sprawl," you can easily see that Walmart's development model will NOT improve DC's upward mobility.
and then you wrote
Krugman made the inference, not me. He says he needs to see the full data, but based on the partial data he found in the Leonhardt article he linked to, Krugman drew that inference. And he was clear that it is a "correlation," not necessarily a cause-and-effect relationship.
I am confused. Do you agree with Krugman, or not? Your second passage implies that you do not fully embrace his conclusions.

by goldfish on Jul 22, 2013 4:42 pm • linkreport

Charlie -- see Good Hope Marketplace, http://www.kodiakproperties.com/individ_prop_goodhope.htm

It's 0.4 miles away.

although, interestingly, Safeway was at Skyland once upon a time (but it was a smaller store and in response to Haft takeover threats, they shut their smaller stores in favor of larger and newer "regionally serving" stores like Good Hope Marketplace.

With Good Hope Marketplace and the Congress Heights Giant, which is 1.4 miles to the Skyland site, there isn't really demand for another center.

It probably should just be redeveloped as housing. Better to focus development and business on the extant places, rather than building something else.

by Richard Layman on Jul 22, 2013 4:43 pm • linkreport

Note that with the Krugman article/paper he refers to, you can't really "blame" Walmart for "sprawl."

Until the last 15 or so years, Walmart was really an exurban and rurally focused company. By 1981, they only had about 300 stores. The heyday of sprawl was probably 1948 to 1975 (the oil shock changed things a little). Although it's fair to say that sprawl's spread continues today and still was big through 2005.

http://flowingdata.com/2010/04/07/watching-the-growth-of-walmart-now-with-100-more-sams-club/

They built their success in these areas before moving into suburban markets. And now they are working to enter urban markets, as they have reached near their maximum market share with the current format in the suburbs.

WM is moving towards smaller formats, like super-pharmacies and groceries with pharmacies to compete with CVS, Walgreens, Rite Aid and dollar stores. This will increase their market share as well.

by Richard Layman on Jul 22, 2013 4:51 pm • linkreport

Wal-Mart has more systemic problems. Recently poor customer service and the lack of merchandise on the shelves have affected the company, according to this Business Insider article from earlier this year:

http://www.businessinsider.com/wal-marts-customer-service-issues-2013-4

The key excerpt:

"Walmart shelves are empty because it cut back on its workforce and the employees can't keep up," customer service expert and best-selling author Grant Cardone told us. "It doesn't work to be everywhere if you're not offering an experience."

The other problem is that Wal-Mart focused so much on "low prices" in their promoting that they earned the reputation of being a store where "poor people shop". Compare Wal-Mart to Target, its arch-rvial. When I've gone into Target I've seen nicer merchandise, cleaner aisle, and better customer service.

Target also has made discount shopping "cool" and "trendy". They make their merchandise look more attractive than what Wal-Mart has to offer. They are much better at appealing to more upper middle-class and affluent customers than Wal-Mart has. Target has done a much better job at making their merchandise and shopping experience "cool" and "trendy", while Wal-Mart has just stressed "low prices". When you compare the two you feel better shopping at Target than you do at Wal-Mart.

I live in Ward 4 and really would rather have a Target than a Wal-Mart up here. I think that Georgia Avenue could easily support other retailers, but I'm not going to make the perfect the enemy of the good either. And yes the jobs that Wal-Mart brings may not be the best paying, but it will offer something to the younger people around and others who can't find work. I would rather have Wal-Mart than some abandoned lot in my neighborhood.

by Rain17 on Jul 22, 2013 5:16 pm • linkreport

I suspect that Gray will ultimately veto the living wage bill because his constituents in Ward 7 and 8, who are desperate for retail, ANY KIND OF RETAIL, would suffer the most if Wal-Mart left. To some extent they don't have the luxury of making the perfect the enemy of the good. And while I suspect many of them would support the Living Wage bill in theory, if it means that Wal-Mart leaves and there is nothing to replace the chain at Skyland, practical considerations prevent them from supporting the bill. They don't have the luxury of making the perfect the enemy of the good. And many of them may perceive this issue as one of "the upper middle class and affluent left west of the river" can afford to support, while they pay the price for their ideals.

The business community has made itself clear that it will not tolerate Gray signing the bill. Given that he faces a challenge from Muriel Bowser, who represents Ward 4, the key part of the city that decides elections, he won't sign the bill. Should he sign the bill and Wal-Mart leaves DC, with Bowser running against him, he will lose the primary. The business interests will send all their money to Bowser.

And Bowser can get enough votes in Wards 4 and 5, voters that Fenty lost in 2010, to offset any advantage that Gray may receive out of Wards 7 and 8. And Bowswer is likely to perform much better in those wards than Fenty did.

I don't think Evans has a chance of winning. He may do well in Wards 1, 2, and 3; but, although Bowser may not win in the precincts of upper NW, she will get many more votes than Gray would receive there. She is more educated, articulated, and pleasing on the eye. She is less threatening to to those in the neighborhoods along Connecticut, Nebraska, and Wisconsin Avenues than Gray.

I predict that, if Gray signs the bill and Wal-Mart leaves, Bowser will defeat him. She will have the cross-city appeal that Gray lacks and can win the votes that Evans would not be able to win in Wards 7 and 8.

by Rain17 on Jul 22, 2013 5:24 pm • linkreport

"I agree that Walmart is not the savior of EOTR. But making rules that big box retailers have to pay more is the sort of micromanaging that drives business nuts, big and small, and discourages investment. "

The problem here is that it is very much a "first world problem" for most people here and those who live west of the river. I'm not dependent on those jobs and I agree that the "living wage bill" in theory is a good idea; but, when it comes to those east of the river, they want jobs, however flawed and low-paying. And they can't afford to make the perfect the enemy of the good. If Wal-Mart does leave they will pay the price and I suspect that that is why Gray will not sign the bill.

by Rain17 on Jul 22, 2013 5:34 pm • linkreport

@H St ll, I said promise to build a store, not actually build one! That is the ballsy part.

The financing on the project is probably contingent on getting a large anchor.

by charlie on Jul 22, 2013 5:56 pm • linkreport

I thought that Wal-Mart would only pull out if Gray signed the bill, which he has yet to decide whether to sign it or not.

by Rain17 on Jul 22, 2013 6:00 pm • linkreport

oboe- Employees at WalMart are on public assistance- that's the problem. Taxpayers pay their health care and food stamps. Equals out to higher pay without foodstamps and medicaid and is a great business model for WalMart. Not so much for taxpayers.

by Tom Coumaris on Jul 22, 2013 6:18 pm • linkreport

Well, if you're unemployed and living in Wards 7 or 8, a job, any job, is better than no job at all. And I agree that Wal-Mart jobs are crummy and don't offer much in terms of benefits; but, if the chose is between a job with crappy pay and no benefits versus no job at all, I suspect that most of them would jump at the opportunity to work at Wal-Mart.

by Rain17 on Jul 22, 2013 8:43 pm • linkreport

[This comment has been deleted for violating the comment policy.]

by J.J. on Jul 23, 2013 12:14 am • linkreport

...Paternalism towards and patronizing of poor people is one of the most annoying habits of the condescending yuppies in this city.

paternalism, patronization and condescension such as appointing oneself spokesperson for a whole bunch of people who undoubtedly have a whole range of view points, be they walmart associates (just b/c one person can relate a good experience doesn't mean everyone can: http://www.forbes.com/sites/shenegotiates/2012/09/22/wal-mart-women-win-right-to-proceed-with-discrimination-class-action/) or people you identify as "poor"?

by Tina on Jul 23, 2013 12:58 am • linkreport

@Tina - yep. Plus, none of the planned stores are located in Anacostia anyway.

by h st ll on Jul 23, 2013 6:26 am • linkreport

Good for DC!! Don't sell out the city. How many of you are familiar with the 'DC 2000' Plan, written basically by the feds in the 80s? That is what you are seeing the endgame result of. Turn it around. We ALL, as a long time DC resident now from another city I say this, we ALL cannot allow our cities to be sold out from under us who live in our places.

Running after tax dollars, to displace and destroy the people who live in a place is the last and final abuse of the people, the people, the people, who created a community.

Worse, creating a situation where MORE people cannot afford to live in an area and instead have to drive to work because there is no way they can live near work -- THAT is counter to any sustainable urban development.

by Escapee from the DC area on Jul 23, 2013 7:27 am • linkreport

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by Arkie on Jul 23, 2013 7:33 am • linkreport

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by Walmart on Jul 23, 2013 8:34 am • linkreport

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by J.J. on Jul 23, 2013 9:55 am • linkreport

Rain17 - in my recent post on this general topic, I linked to a report by Zenith Management Consulting on how to react to Walmart and to be proactive.

You mention Target. The difference between Target and Walmart is their business model. It's not about "design" as much as it is demographic intent/SES. Target uses design to market saving money to "choice customers" people with the means to shop elsewhere. Walmart markets to and is dependent on lower income consumers to do the bulk of their shopping there. Target customers probably shop at other places. A greater proportion of Walmart customers shop only there.

As I have pointed out, Walmart's business model is designed to capture as close to 100% of a customer's consumer spending. (You or someone else also made the point about their financial services for the unbanked, which is another way to tie customers to the store.) So by that definition, to me, they can't be called an "anchor" for a commercial district, because they don't support shopping at proximate businesses, but killing them, which is why it's not a good thing for cities to try to attract Walmart.

At the same time, they work to keep their customers dependent on them.

Their sales have been dropping because the poor are poorer because of the recession. That's why they are moving to the cities. At the same time, they are fully capable of segmenting their stores for higher income consumers. Apparently they do this with their Highland Park, Texas (Dallas) store.

by Richard Layman on Jul 23, 2013 9:56 am • linkreport

Sorry, I was wrong about the exact location of the upscale Walmart I was remembering. It's Plano, TX.

http://www.forbes.com/2006/08/30/walmart-goes-upscale-cx_tvr_0830walmart.html

by Richard Layman on Jul 23, 2013 9:58 am • linkreport

[This comment has been deleted for violating the comment policy prohibiting arguing about comment deletions in the comments. JJ, please email info@ggwash.org if you want to discuss.

Also, you haven't gotten the emails from us about why your comments were deleted because you appear to be using a nonfunctional or mistyped email address. We'd like to remind everyone that you need to use a real email address, specifically so that we can reach you and set up a dialogue if a comment has to be deleted rather than getting into an escalating series of angry and nasty comments as JJ has done here.]

by J.J. on Jul 23, 2013 10:04 am • linkreport

Fair enough GGW, then I'll propose something constructive for the hive mind to consider.

What if we had a Georgetown 1% Accountability Act that required a $20 minimum wage in the Georgetown BID? What about Fairfax County? Think about it -- the second wealthiest neighborhood in North America can certainly afford to pay higher wages. The big corporate stores up there can certainly pay $20 an hour and still make a big profit. Let's do it!

Seriously why are only businesses that target budget shoppers being attacked? Could it be the $$$ from the supermarkets and unions who are afraid of Walmart undercutting them?

I don't think Walmart is going to Georgetown anytime soon and I doubt most of these posters are going to Anacostia anytime soon, so how about a truce: I won't propose pricing Lulelemon out of Gtown if you won't propose pricing Walmart out of Anacostia.

Deal?

by J.J. on Jul 23, 2013 10:19 am • linkreport

I doubt most of these posters are going to Anacostia anytime soon

I am there every day.

But what @RL wrote about "capturing" low income shoppers is bothersome. I had a similar experience up in Landover last year, shopping for an inexpensive, off-contract cell phone. I bought it elsewhere, because of the bad, "we-own-you" experience unique to WM. I can only hope that WM soon learns that its potential customers in DC have many choices, even though not all of them are in DC.

by goldfish on Jul 23, 2013 10:29 am • linkreport

J.J., you're going to have to take that up with the DC Council.

I think if you've read through the comments re: any wal-mart story opinions are very diverse, especially for a community that is like minded on a great deal many other things.

Moreover, it's silly and unconstructive to pit neighborhood against neighborhood. I realize that's what you believe the story/author is doing but why give in to that? Do you have opinions on the other policy reccomendations listed in the article?

by drumz on Jul 23, 2013 10:32 am • linkreport

"What about Fairfax County? Think about it -- the second wealthiest neighborhood in North America can certainly afford to pay higher wages. The big corporate stores up there can certainly pay $20 an hour and still make a big profit. Let's do it!"

I live in the Fairfax. I beleive that the Virginia minimum wage (current $7.25) is okay for the rest of virginia, its definitely too low for northern virginia, where the COL is much higher. I don't know that there is a legal mechanism to get it changed for NoVa alone though.

"Could it be the $$$ from the supermarkets and unions who are afraid of Walmart undercutting them?"

LRAA specifically excluded stores with CBAs. So yes, the concept is that CBA's protect workers, and that nonunion workers need legislative protection instead. Clearly much of the division on this has to do with attitudes to unions and collective bargaining.

"if you won't propose pricing Walmart out of Anacostia."

The CM from ward 8, and some citywide pols with strong baseds EOTR supported the LRAA. If folks EOTR care deeply about this, they are free to organize through the democratic process. My strong impression is that folks EOTR excluding the union folks (who are very anti walmart) are mostly not really all that excited one way or the other.

A

by AWalkerInTheCity on Jul 23, 2013 10:32 am • linkreport

What if we had a Georgetown 1% Accountability Act that required a $20 minimum wage in the Georgetown BID?...Seriously why are only businesses that target budget shoppers being attacked?

The premise of your question is that all EOTR residents want this and only WOTR liberals oppose it. The reality is that there is disagreement EOTR. I've quoted three Ward 7 residents.

I firmly believe that economic development EOTR should be inclusive of and driven by EOTR residents, and I've tried to put forward solutions here that meet EOTR demands for more retail options while also meeting EOTR demands for reduced unemployment. I'd be interested to hear your reaction to these ideas (really Jack Evans' ideas).

As far as Georgetown goes, I agree that the Georgetown BID should do more to reduce unemployment in DC. Nearly all the employees of Georgetown retailers and restaurants live in VA/MD, not in DC. We have a new BID director, Joe Sternlieb, who is pushing on workforce development. Also the largest restaurant owner in Georgetown, Paul Cohn, recently opened a culinary training academy in Ward 7. I think we should challenge all retailers and restaurants in Georgetown to source employees from OneCity OneHire as a condition to getting any accomodations from zoning or historic preservation rules.

by Ken Archer on Jul 23, 2013 10:43 am • linkreport

"Moreover, it's silly and unconstructive to pit neighborhood against neighborhood. I realize that's what you believe the story/author is doing but why give in to that? Do you have opinions on the other policy reccomendations listed in the article?"

We are in total agreement. It is unconstructive to have residents of wards that are literally economic light years away from others telling each other what kind of retailers/jobs they can have.

This is point: live and let live. If you want Walmart, shop there. If not, then don't. Same if you want to work there (or not).

I'm not saying that Ken Archer is a bad guy or hates people EOTR. What I'm saying is that he is making a huge point out of influencing something that really won't affect him. He's making choices for others, which I do find insulting.

Imagine if Anacostians got to decide that Georgetown businesses (including domestic household businesses) had to pay a "livable wage." A Georgetown wage that pays Georgetown rent!

It would be destructive and wrong. But that's what's happening here. One faction of the city is deciding that its morals override those of another faction. That's not the role of government. I say that we allow people to choose to shop/work where they wish. I'm pro-choice when it comes to such things and I think most people are as well.

by J.J. on Jul 23, 2013 10:46 am • linkreport

J.J. - One thing, please, "Anacostia" and "east of the Anacostia River" are not one in the same.

There is no Walmart proposed in Anacostia. Never has been. There are two in other neighborhoods east of the Anacostia River, in a different ward than Anacostia.

Just wanted to make sure we have our geography right here.

by Geoffrey Hatchard on Jul 23, 2013 10:49 am • linkreport

" I'm pro-choice when it comes to such things and I think most people are as well."

Do you think most people would support abolishing the minimum wage?

I think most people do not support an ideological belief in an unregulated labor market.

As for where it should be decided, EOTR is part of DC, and must share DC's labor laws (and yes, EOTR voters get a say in the labor law that impacts Georgetown). I am sure that if EOTR wants to secede to get more control over its own laws, WOTR voters would be happy to entertain that possibility.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Jul 23, 2013 10:54 am • linkreport

He's making choices for others, which I do find insulting.

He's making policy reccomendations (ultimately decided by city government, who literally make choices for all of us) to supplement what they're trying to achieve with the LRAA. The intent being to ultimately make citizens EOTR wealthier. I don't see that as patronizing. I also think the wal-mart bill was a bad idea. But we're past discussing the merits of that because it will either be law or it won't but I think it's fair for a DC citizen to weigh in on something the DC council has been actively working on. Even if he does live across town.

If you're so live and let live then let people make arguments and judge the merits rather than trying declare that certain populations don't get a say.

by drumz on Jul 23, 2013 10:57 am • linkreport

I really don't understand all the commenters talking about Safeway being the anchor for a supermarket at Skyland, since everybody knows that they already have a supermarket directly across the street (Alabama) from the proposed development site.

Unfortunately, it's a pretty miserable place and I avoid it, even though it's walk-able from my house. I've waited 30 minutes in line to check out there before... which is probably an indication of how under-served our area is.

We needed a big box store to anchor the Skyland development, now that the legal hurdles are (almost? still?) cleared up. Without a national chain with the capital to put into the square footage, the whole plan for Skyland doesn't make any sense, and the smaller in-fill / windowfront spaces would be challenging to maintain without the big draw of the big box anchor.

Personally, I was hoping for Target, but Walmart would still be a good thing, despite their labor practices.

by Jake M on Jul 23, 2013 11:19 am • linkreport

Empirical data from a publication today showing that "sprawl" is highly correlated with relatively reduced "upward mobility" in the ten most populated metropolitan areas of the United States is not in any way undermined or refuted by a three-year old architectural review of a "proposal" from Walmart for one store out of six stores that Walmart allegedly planned to build in DC.

First, the NJ Ave store is under construction. It's well past "allegedly planned".

Second, I'm not refuting (or agreeing) with any of Krugman's assertions or data. I'm disagreeing with the implication that Walmart necessarily has to build stores in DC that contribute to sprawl. The NJ Ave store will not be contributing to sprawl and the city could have surely required better designs for the other stores (some of which are better than others). That would be a lot less likely to cause Walmart to walk away than the living wage bill.

Just because Walmart has sprawling auto-oriented stores in rural areas and the suburbs doesn't mean they have to have similarly designed stores in the city.

by Falls Church on Jul 23, 2013 12:09 pm • linkreport

"J.J. - One thing, please, 'Anacostia' and "east of the Anacostia River" are not one in the same.
There is no Walmart proposed in Anacostia. Never has been. There are two in other neighborhoods east of the Anacostia River, in a different ward than Anacostia.

Just wanted to make sure we have our geography right here."

As we should. Skyland is for all intents and purposes Anacostia, and more to the point, the population center that the store will serve is pretty much Anacostia.

by J.J. on Jul 23, 2013 2:23 pm • linkreport

J.J. - No, Skyland is not "for all intents and purposes" Anacostia. If you want to generalize like that, than we can say Skyland is "for all intents and purposes" Hillcrest, which is actually closer, and is a neighborhood with MUCH higher income, education, etc.

By your logic, Dupont is "for all intents and purposes" Columbia Heights, and Brookland is "for all intents and purposes" Shaw.

by Geoffrey Hatchard on Jul 23, 2013 2:27 pm • linkreport

The one supermarket I could see entering this market would be ShopRite/PriceRite, if they had a firm in the area that wanted to enter the market. But I doubt it, too much risk and investment required for limited ROI.

Shop-Rite displaced Wal-Mart from a development in Brooklyn last fall. The mayor said that ShopRite showed interest in DC at ICSC this May.

by Ken Archer on Jul 24, 2013 7:40 am • linkreport

Well, they have one as close as White Oak now. (A former SuperFresh operation.)

But the basic point I made, at least with Skyland, is that it makes more sense to make the two existing shopping centers great, there isn't enough retail demand to drive the creation of an additional center there.

It's different with the E. Capitol location maybe, although that general area isn't all that dense.

I don't know what to say about the NY Avenue project. It's too bad the ec. downturn scotched the Abdo project.

by Richard Layman on Jul 24, 2013 12:10 pm • linkreport

Why doesn't the Council just pass a bill that says if your business name rhymes with Hallfart you have to pay your workers at least $30/hour. That would solve poverty. Yay, DC Council.

by Ward 1 Guy on Jul 24, 2013 3:59 pm • linkreport

Thanks for another great article, Ken!

by JD on Jul 31, 2013 2:06 pm • linkreport

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