The New Orleans City Council has given its approval for national retail chain Walmart to build a store in eastern New Orleans. According to a report by The Advocate, the retail company will develop a 187,500-square-foot Walmart Supercenter at 6000 Bullard Ave. at Interstate 10.
The new store, scheduled to break ground in early 2013, will be developed on the site of the former Lakeland Medical Center. Even though the site is zoned for commercial use, it had a conditional-use ordinance in place that had to be removed by the city council – one of several special conditions the city council has or soon will implement. For example, special waivers will be introduced regarding issues as diverse as signage, parking and landscaping that the planning commission approved in October.
Such special waivers include the increase of parking spaces from an initial 626 to 727 – even though the typical Walmart Supercenter features 938-car parking. In the case of New Orleans, it is not uncommon for big-box retailers to feature smaller-than-average parking, as it is argued that the Big Easy shopper relies more heavily on public transport than the average American.
Construction is expected to begin in early 2013 and will begin with the demolition of the shuttered Lakeland Medical Center. It is expected to be completed in late 2013 or early 2014. The store is expected to create between 300 and 350 jobs. It is also expected to boost business’ , residents’ and former residents’ confidence in the area and its possible rebirth.
The Bullard Avenue Walmart will be the first major retail center to be built in Eastern New Orleans since Katrina. Before the storm, the retail chain operated a store on Bundy Road, but after suffering extensive damage during the storm, it never reopened, leaving the city’s eastern part, home to some 70,000 residents (nearly a fifth of the city’s population), without a shopping center.
As previously reported on this page, Walmart is planning another store in the Big Easy. The second store will replace the shuttered Gentilly Woods Shopping Center. It will reportedly cost $13.4 million and is expected to open in early 2014.
Photo courtesy of Walmart’s Pinterest profile