you are invited to join an active email group to receive
regular updates and information on this issue by sending email
three years ago, Wal-Mart came to town and quietly swore the
Town Council to secrecy (www.sprawl-busters.com/article159).
Luckily, news of the proposed Wal-Mart was leaked and Gilbert
residents were successful in rejecting the construction of a
Wal-Mart Supercenter on the southeast corner of Lindsay Road
and Warner Road.
Wal-Mart apparently feels that Gilbert residents will not be
similarly opposed to a new location just one mile to the west
- and this time Wal-Mart erroneously feels that it has an ace
up its sleeve. As the land in question is already zoned
for commercial use, Wal-Mart did not need to apply for a zoning
change and has quietly entered into a contract to purchase the
land. Research has shown that this "backdoor"
approach to bullying its way into neighborhoods is typical of
Wal-Mart's business practices. The proposed building is
to be approximately 185,000 square feet and contain approximately
850 parking spaces covering 22 acres.
Fortunately, the Town leaders of a decade ago had the foresight
to realize that the property in question was very important
to Gilbert. In Ordinances 617 and 725, Gilbert leaders (with
the approval of the current land owner) ensured that the "vision"
of downtown Gilbert will be protected. The zoning ordinances
adopted by the Town Council for this special piece of land prohibit
traditional shopping center uses such as grocery or drug stores.
The zoning ordinances require a high quality, mixed-use commercial
environment that fits in with the civic center complex. These
ordinances are legal, enforceable and can only be changed by
the Gilbert Town Council.
As clearly indicated above, it is the opinion of this webpage
that the property in question is very special and important
to the Town of Gilbert. It is, in effect, our downtown - our
"gateway" to the community and what should be the
center of the Town's cultural & civic activities. Nowhere
in this "vision" of downtown Gilbert does it indicate
that these activities include a trip to Wal-Mart. What should
be obvious to all is that once this property is developed, be
it a high-end beautiful mixed-use complex or a low-end big-box
Wal-Mart, the property - and all the promise it holds - is fixed
for decades. Should Wal-Mart somehow be successful in building
at this location, Gilbert will forever be a "drive-thru"
grid on a map. There will be no "downtown", no single
location that the Town can point to with pride as its cultural
and civic hub - and there is no other property within the Town
that can fill that void.
Within the majority of the cities in the Phoenix metropolitan
area, there are instances of "successful" core downtown
areas - none of them include a big-box store of any type. Scottsdale's
downtown and civic center has always been a major draw and is
a model of what a true downtown should be. The Borgatta and
Kierland Commons are ideal examples of what type of property
could exist (and fulfill the zoning ordinances) on the corner
of Gilbert and Warner. Tempe, Mesa and Glendale have all revitalized
their downtowns and are reaping the benefits in attracting new
business, tourist dollars and civic pride. It was and remains
the desire and vision of the Town of Gilbert to have the "Civic
Center" corner be a location where families can gather,
stroll, and take in a good dinner or cultural event. This is
not accomplished by developing a big-box store in which one
goes for diapers and has to hike through acres of parking lot
to get there.
Though many residents may feel differently, this website is
not opposed to placing a Wal-Mart within the Town of Gilbert.
In fact, this website fully supports the Wal-Mart that is to
be built within the Power Ranch regional mall area (along Greenfield
Road from Ray to Pecos - and potentially less than 4 miles from
the proposed location at Gilbert and Warner). This web-site
is opposed to placing a Wal-Mart Supercenter:
adjoining Gilbert Town Hall
a location that will forever deprive Gilbert of the promise
of a special identity
across a major street from an elementary school
a location that will greatly increase "shortcut"
traffic directly past a second elementary school
a lot on which the Town had planned an upscale, pedestrian-oriented
"boutique-type" retail center
a lot that may negatively impact the planned upscale Gilbert
Town Square just west of the proposed Wal-Mart location
a location that will negatively impact (if not eliminate)
scores of independent businesses located within the downtown
a location in which the "big-box" architectural
style will be the focus of downtown Gilbert.
a 4 mile (10 minute) drive from either of the two nearest
existing Wal-Marts and a 4 mile drive from the coming Power
Ranch regional mall store
has indicated that a Wal-Mart Supercenter involves over 8000
additional vehicles daily, 24-hour delivery schedules with up
to 25 tractor-trailer deliveries per day, additional crime (not
just at the store location but within the surrounding neighborhoods),
additional litter and, believe it or not, RV parking for overnight
Wal-Mart has recently mailed a flier equivalent to propoganda
to nearly 35,000 residents of Gilbert - whether or not they
will be affected by the proposed store location. This flier
indicated that the proposed store will provide a windfall of
tax revenue and 500 new jobs to the Town of Gilbert. This is
misleading on several fronts. Initially, while it cannot be
disputed that Wal-Mart will provide tax dollars to Gilbert,
those very same tax dollars can be achieved through alternative
uses at the very same location. In addition, there is no mention
in the flier that Wal-Mart IS coming to Gilbert (Power Ranch
regional mall) - and will be a source of tax dollars at a location
that is far more appropriate for a 24-hour big-box eyesore.
The 500 new jobs promised for Gilbert also come at a cost. Typically,
each new job at Wal-Mart is of the minimum wage variety and
Wal-Mart is very well known for limiting the number of hours
worked so as to avoid providing benefits to its employees. Research
has also indicated that each new job created at Wal-Mart costs
the community 1.5 jobs that could have been created elsewhere.
It is imperative that concerned residents of Gilbert contact
as many people listed under the "Contacts" section
as possible. Make these people aware of how you feel about
transforming the beautiful and quaint upscale vision of downtown
Gilbert into just another "big-box" eyesore.