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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.

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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