Walmart wants to open its first groceries-only neighborhood market in St. Louis here in South County, on Tesson Ferry Road, just south of Butler Hill Road.
Some nearby residents are clamoring for a new area grocer to replace the three that have closed within the last year: Johnny's Market, the Sappington Farmers' Market and Save-a-Lot in Affton's Grasso Plaza. The Affton Community Improvement Association (ACIA) and other Affton residents are gunning for a Trader Joe's to replace the Save-a-Lot.
While Trader Joe's said they aren't considering the South County area at this time, they will consider it in future reviews. Both ACIA Chairman and Affton resident Carol Boss, who headed a massive online campaign in favor of the grocer, are still optimistic about the impact community efforts have had.
Lawyers for Walmart presented their plan to the St. Louis County Planning Commission Monday night, saying the store combines a smaller, focused layout with the food prices customers usually expect at a Walmart Supercenter.
Walmart's "neighborhood market" concept focuses on fixing big box ills while maintaining prices, the retailer's attorney Keith Hazelwood said . Since the stores will only sell groceries—including bakery goods, produce, seafood and pet supplies—the markets don't have the same traffic and crowding issues as the superstores.
The market would be within the Mehlville School District, and Hazelwood estimated tax revenues would go up about $50,000 if the store is built. The store would also bring about 100 jobs to the area, Hazelwood said.
Here are a few differences between Walmart's supercenters and the neighborhood markets:Neighborhood Market SupercenterHours 24/7 24/7 Typical Transaction $25/visit $50/visit Traffic Local Regional Size 41,000+ sq.ft. including 2 acres of green space 100,000-200,000 sq.ft. Parking 165 spots Varies Service More self-check out Check out lanes Products Groceries, food Practically everything
Springfield, Mo., has four Walmart neighborhood markets, but this would be the first store in the St. Louis region.
If the store comes to the neighborhood, Walmart is proposing intersection updates at Tesson Ferry and Old Tesson Ferry roads, including new traffic lights and the straightening up the intersection to be more perpendicular. Developers also want to add a right turn lane on northbound Tesson Ferry Road.
Mary Ann Gregory, who has lived on Audjill Drive behind the proposed Walmart for 47 years, said she's concerned about the store's affect on traffic in the area, especially since so many seniors live in the area.
"The traffic on Tesson Ferry is terrible now," Gregory said. "We have a very difficult time getting out of our street. We don't particularly need more traffic."
Walmart may have a few more hurdles to jump before earning approval from the St. Louis County Planning Commission.
Developers are looking to rezone the area to allow for the large commercial development; right now, the land is zoned for a smaller business, and a strip along the south-eastern border was zoned for residential development to protect neighbors on Griffin Road from potential future development.
Commissioners with the planning committee were also concerned about the store's plans for security, lighting and deliveries. The market will have a lit parking lot, pedestrian cross walks and security cameras. Large LED-lit signs will hang on the front and sides of the store, which faces Tesson Ferry Road.
Deliveries could come at any time of the day, Hazelwood said. Trucks would enter from Butler Hill Road, come south behind the store and exit on Tesson Ferry Road.
Walmart still needs approval from the planning commission and the St. Louis County Council before moving ahead with development.
Would you shop at this Walmart market? Are you concerned about the new development? Let us know in the comments below!
Read more about South County grocers:
- Community Group Targets Space for Potential Trader Joe's Location
- Letter-Writing Effort to Bring Trader Joe's to South County Still Has Steam
- Another South County Grocery Store Bites the Dust: Affton's Save-A-Lot Closing