City's 10-year affair with Walmart ends in Lemoore as major store decides not to build

City's 10-year affair with Walmart ends in Lemoore as major store decides not to build

The more than 10-year give and take with Walmart has come to an end this week as Walmart officials said that the world’s largest retailer plans to drop its long-delayed plan to build a Walmart store in Lemoore on its property near Leprino Foods and West Hills College Lemoore.

Walmart had been negotiating with Lemoore for over 10 years, much of the conversation centering on traffic studies and who was going to pay for such improvements as sidewalks, curbs and the widening of streets. 

Part of the long delay originally centered on traffic circulation. A Walmart store in that location would have generated substantial traffic, and improvements to the area were needed as the company began negotiating ways to get the improvements completed.

“Walmart hasn’t been around Lemoore for about a year and a half,” said Public Works and Planning Director David Wlaschin, when contacted by The Leader. He said that originally when Walmart came in he said that city officials were requiring Walmart to make improvements such as streets, curbs, gutters. “They needed to put in certain traffic improvements,” said the longtime public works director.

At least one councilmember was disappointed in the news, but indicated he was aware of Walmart’s decision months ago. “I’ve known that for a couple of years now,” said Willard Rodarmel, who has been on the council for much of the time Walmart was considering building a store here. Rodarmel said that Walmart was indeed intending to sell the property.

“I think it’s a bad thing for Lemoore,” he continued. “We need to do what we can to bring more jobs and sales tax revenue to our community.”

A Walmart spokesperson said Walmart intends to sell the property it owns on the west side of Highway 41. In fact, Rodarmel said a for-sale sign had been posted on the property as late as last year, indicating Walmart’s fading interest in the site. “At this time, we are no longer pursuing a new store in Lemoore." said Delia Garcia of Walmart.  "We appreciate the support of the community and our customers and will continue to look for opportunities to serve them better.  We reviewed the opportunity and made a business decision not to move forward at this time,” she said.

According to Walmart more than 200 million people shop at its stores around the world, and in 2012 generated approximately $400 billion in sales. Walmart employs more than 2.2 million persons worldwide and was expected to employ in the neighborhood of 300 persons in Lemoore.

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