Yael T. Abouhalkah

After Raytown beat Wal-Mart, what will happen in Waldo?

Updated: 2013-09-07T22:06:57Z

By Yael T. Abouhalkah

The Kansas City Star

Defying local and national trends, Wal-Mart’s critics in Raytown actually won a battle in June to keep a proposed neighborhood grocery from coming to a large downtown parcel there.

At a town hall this evening, large groups of Wal-Mart’s supporters and opponents in Kansas City’s Waldo area are expected to discuss whether a similar market will be built at the now-closed site of Bingham Middle School.

Just like in Raytown, Wal-Mart has made moves designed to gain approval for its project near 76th and Wyandotte streets. They include limiting the store’s hours and adding landscaping — again, as was pledged in Raytown.

Critics in Waldo remain opposed for a number of reasons, including concerns about potential increases in local traffic in nearby neighborhoods.

A Facebook group has tried to rally detractors in recent months, as Kansas City Public Schools officials — who own the middle school — decide what to do with it.

But it’s also fair to say that Wal-Mart has a target on its back when it comes to almost any project these days.

A certain amount of NIMBY applies to the large retailer, which has a history of winning over skeptics, at least when it comes to elected officials.

As I wrote earlier this year, Wal-Mart locally has prevailed in recent attempts to build supercenters in Mission (taxpayer-subsidized) and in Lee’s Summit.

The retailer promises jobs and tax dollars for the cities it develops in, which is often a winning combination.

Even in Raytown, after months of meetings and hours of testimony pitted neighbor against neighbor, the Board of Aldermen eventually approved the neighborhood market.

By then, though, Wal-Mart appeared resigned to facing more opposition, including at least one court challenge, as some some property owners fought for smaller kinds of development in downtown Raytown. The retailer decided to pull its project.

Whether that eventually happens in the Waldo area — or the grocery gets built — will be decided in the coming months.

To reach Yael T. Abouhalkah, call 816-234-4887 or send email to abouhalkah@kcstar.com. Follow him at Twitter.com/YaelTAbouhalkah.

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