Clovis News

Clovis Wal-Mart decision delayed

Approval of an environmental report for a new Wal-Mart Supercenter was delayed Monday night by Clovis City Council members as new information was revealed about a new 95,000-square-foot Winco Foods store being proposed in the city.

The council, which continued discussion until June 29, held off on a decision to do a further evaluation of an urban decay report that was finished before the nation's economic collapse and before stores such as Mervyns and Gottschalks declared bankruptcy.

Clovis planning commissioners recommended a revised environmental document for the Herndon Avenue and Highway 168 center to the Clovis City Council in April. The center is to include a Wal-Mart Supercenter, Kohl's, Petco and Bed, Bath and Beyond.

The urban decay study by CB Richard Ellis said the 491,000-square-foot center would not have a significant impact on urban decay.

Greg Keller of CB Richard Ellis said data show that food sales continue to rise each year and that larger problems are occurring in apparel, automotive and building materials. He said the new food stores, Winco and Wal-Mart Supercenter, will take away business from all grocery stores in the city, but that none should close as a direct result of their presence.

CB Richard Ellis' report said "some closures of market area stores could occur," but that it will not add to urban decay.

The Winco Foods store, which is proposed at Herndon and Peach avenues, was previously addressed in the city's economic analysis, Keller said, but the project was originally planned a half-mile west along Herndon Avenue in Fresno.

David Paynter, the Wal-Mart center's developer, said he can empathize with the owners of Sierra Vista Mall, who are opposed to the project, because he built a shopping center with Mervyns. He said the project will provide construction jobs, new retail jobs and property and sales taxes.

He pledged that he "will not build vacant buildings," he said. "In the current environment, we cannot build vacant buildings."

Clovis resident Don Derleth said he thinks the new shopping center will keep people shopping in the city.

"I know people who live at Shepherd and Highway 168 and go to River Park, so it will be nice to get their tax revenue back in Clovis," he said.

But Bennett Lee of Clovis, a Save Mart store manager, said the store he ran in Dinuba was forced to close because a Wal-Mart Supercenter went in.

Grocery stores were not the only ones affected. "A friend of mine is trying to sell his auto parts store, and he can't sell it," Lee said.

In a revised water report, consultant Provost & Pritchard said the shopping center land has a water entitlement greater than the expected water demand.

Stockton lawyer Steve Herum, who represents Save Our Crossroads Center, said the water report is incorrect because the land is not being used and water is not required on the land now.

He also said the water analysis needed to examine large water users that were not included in the report.

Herum also said the economic impacts revision should be invalidated because CB Richard Ellis has done 24 reports for Wal-Mart and never found urban decay.

Vicki Westburg of Fresno, who is represented by Herum in the lawsuit against the city, said the city is not following its own plans in building on the property.

"I like Clovis having a village feeling," she said. "It's a way of life, but that way of life is changing."