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VIDEO: Walmart Discusses Proposed Sarasota Supercenter

Walmart officials met with residents and community leaders Wednesday night about a proposed supercenter at Ringling Shopping Center in downtown Sarasota.

Inside Payne Auditorium Wednesday, residents and local community leaders had their first look at the architectural drawings of the

If it all goes to plan, the city's oldest shopping center will be demolished to make way for a Walmart Supercenter.

Walmart is proposing a 24-hour, 98,000-square-foot store to replace the Ringling Shopping Center that includes a and several stores that are due to leave the shopping center empty.

Walmart officials addressed a wide arrange of topics ranging from access to Payne Park, working with local businesses and delivery truck traffic. 

"The same amount of deliveries that Publix, Ace Hardware and everybody else in that strip mall receives would not be even close to what we anticipate receiving," said Michelle Belaire, Walmart's senior manager of public affairs and government relations. 

Belaire added that Supercenters that are larger than what Walmart proposes on Ringling receive up to four trucks a day.

Officials say construction would take a year, and the targeted opening date is in 2014. When open, as many as 250 to 300 people would be hired. 

The architect of the store says he's focusing on making the store shorter and smaller.  

"The tower elements used to get up in the 45- to 55-foot range," said Michael Blinn of BRR Architecture. "We're only at 27 feet here. We've cut that in half. We've tried to bring in an urbanism feel with an all-glass entry."

One resident who lives adjacent to the proposed Walmart doesn't agree with the architecture's choice. 

"What Walmart is selling, I'm not buying," resident Randall Labolle told Patch. "They're saying its an urbanist concept, and there's absolutely no urbanist principles associated with the construction of this property. They're literally just downsizing a Walmart and shoving it in the middle of a parking lot and telling us it's urban. How?"

While Walmart continues to plan for a new supercenter, officials broke some news about the . 

The grand opening will be Wednesday, Sept. 19, said store manager Jeffrey Douglas.

Belaire said because of the voluntary meetings with neighborhood groups and Wednesday meetings, the company has delayed its application to the City of Sarasota.

The Planning Board would have to approve Walmart's plans before it could demolish the store and build.

Ronald Smith August 16, 2012 at 01:22 PM
There was one nutty woman in the beginning personally attacking the the Walmart rep. Otherwise, the plan details were clear and the questions, though mostly anti-Walmart, expressed real concerns of local residents.
Suzette Jones August 16, 2012 at 01:44 PM
I wish I had been able to attend last night's meeting (school open house conflicts - too much going on this last week of summer!) I live in the neighborhood and I am ecstatic that Wal-Mart is considering a store on this currently vagrant-filled property. Rather than drive to Cattleman Rd for Home Depot (next to a Wal-Mart!), I choose to support the Ace Hardware in my neighborhood. When I have my 10-year old daughter with me, I have serious concerns about safety - in the middle of the day! The property has become a blight to the city. Wake up neighbors! Whether or not you shop for back-to-school and other products at Wal-Mart, they keep their properties well kept, well lit and well secured. Your neighborhood will be safer and will have more jobs! Hmmm... adding 250-300 jobs with tax revenue for the City would also help your city services improve. At no tax increase to you! Think outside your personal taste of style and think about what is best for that commercial strip of land and the city.
William Boyle August 16, 2012 at 05:17 PM
Ms Jones you are in need of education on how dangerous a Wal mart can be... http://www.walmartcrimereport.com/ your neighborhood will not be safer and likely less jobs the so called jobs "created" are all subsidized by your tax dollars, to the tune of one billion dollars http://money.cnn.com/2004/05/24/news/fortune500/walmart_subsidies/ Frankly I can’t understand how any person of any conscious could possibly shop there certainly no educated person should. (IMHO)
Larry Vaughn August 16, 2012 at 06:22 PM
There goes the quiet neighborhood...
Kathryn Baker August 17, 2012 at 09:31 AM
That old shopping center hasn't been a modern, viable place to shop for years. I have been here over 50 years and used to shop there when there was a drugstore,publix,a dime store with a lunch counter, Crowder Hardware which later became Drury hardware or visa versa, and the area has steadily gone downhill for years. I sympathize with small businesses, but why would the people in that area want a ghost town of a shopping center in their midst? At least if Walmart goes in there it will come alive again.
Larry Vaughn August 17, 2012 at 03:29 PM
WalMart destroys businesses within a mile, and there are many in that area. Sell the land and build condos, homes or apartments for people who want to live and work downtown, without going broke paying for 1/2 million dollar units like the ones closer to the water.
Larry Vaughn August 17, 2012 at 03:32 PM
A 24/7 Walmart will bring constant traffic to the area, all the time. Forever. Now it's fairly quiet at night, for the people who live next door. Go to a Wal Mart and see who is hanging out in their cars, day and night.
Brenda E. Bradley November 25, 2012 at 06:06 PM
No PLEASE NO!

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