Wal-Mart Delivers Retail Boost to NWA Cities

by Marty Cook  on Monday, Apr. 28, 2014 12:00 am  

Springdale is hoping for a healthy Walmart effect.

Wal-Mart Stores Inc. of Bentonville announced a couple of years ago its plan to build a Supercenter store on Elm Springs Road. That store is scheduled to open in August, and it won’t be lonely long.

The 70-acre-plus Hall Crossing site is just off Interstate 540, and two of the 11 out-parcel lots have already been sold to Arvest Bank and McDonald’s. Springdale officials said there is growing interest from businesses and developers in the areas and parcels surrounding the Walmart-anchored project.

“You’ll see other stuff cluster around it,” said Mike Harvey of the Northwest Arkansas Council. “It’s an agglomeration economy. It’s critical mass. It’ll attract people to the area. It’s going to be a real shot in the arm for Springdale.”

Springdale isn’t the only city looking for a Walmart boost. The company said it has eight projects in some stage of development in northwest Arkansas, and that’s not including a planned neighborhood market in Bentonville and a convenience store prototype that recently opened in Bentonville.

One Walmart that is stirring interest in addition to the Springdale Supercenter is a neighborhood market the company is building off Bentonville’s downtown square at a site formerly known as the Midtown Shopping Center. Tom Ginn of the city’s chamber of commerce said the Walmart is capitalizing on Bentonville’s renewed interest in developing the downtown area.

It is also spurring that development along.

“It’s not just a neighborhood market; it’s a whole urban [development] with offices, other retail spaces and a parking garage,” Ginn said. “People come by and build a business. It all feeds off each other. The Walmart effect has been there for years.”

The Walmart effect doesn’t just pertain to retailers, banks and restaurants. As Ginn said, office space is a component of the downtown development.

Grady Mathews, a commercial real estate developer with Newmark Grubb Arkansas of Bentonville, said there is a pickup in office space use related to Wal-Mart. Mathews said when Wal-Mart began signing longer contracts with vendors a few years ago, office space became much more in demand as vendors could feel more confidence in needing a long-term place to work from in the area.

“Wal-Mart is a real driver of office markets,” Mathews said. “When it comes to office space, Benton County is where everybody wants to be. Proximity to Wal-Mart is important.”

Bill Rogers, the vice president of communications and special projects for the Springdale Chamber of Commerce, said Wal-Mart choosing the Elm Springs location was like a stamp of approval for the area. Rogers said Springdale had long wanted to develop the west side of the city adjacent to the interstate.



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