Walmart stores have been absent from most major metropolitan areas over the years, but one could be headed for the District, according to the Washington Business Journal.
The Journal said Wal-Mart Stores Inc. has increased its efforts recently to find the right spot in D.C., and that "land along Howard Road Southeast, next to Poplar Point," is high on its list. The report said that Urban-City Ventures LLC was in discussions with the company to get a deal done, but that some public funding would be necessary. More on that in a minute.
The WBJ later put out an update, with comment from Wal-Mart, saying there is "nothing immediately on the horizon" but that the company has ideas for a D.C. location.
But nonetheless, a Walmart-to-D.C. story has generated buzz across the city, especially the part about public funding. Here's just a sampling from the blogosphere:
Wal-Mart succeeds at capitalism at its finest and that’s the reason many people think it’s wrong for local government to stop them from being built. It’s the free market economy! So Wal-Mart, since you are such a capitalistic purist and have gotten filthy, filthy rich off of consumers, you get NO help from the government here. It’s the free market economy! Read: You can have your cake, but ain’t no chance you get to eat that shiz.
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The reality is then that a Walmart store will generate more sales tax revenue, but not astronomically. Plus it has to be determined how much of those tax revenues would be cannibalized from other DC stores, and how much from Maryland and Virginia, for the net contribution.
In any case, the economic impact of a Walmart store in DC is not so significant that it is worthy of significant public benefits.
Is another site possible? Fort Lincoln? Skyland? Maybe, but in any case expect a raucous reception from unions and community activists -- which is what happened when a Brookland store was floated in 2004, in case anyone forgot.