Monday, February 13, 2006

Wal-Mart on Staten Island: An Update

Yesterday's Staten Island Advance has an update on the effort of Wal-Mart to build its first NYC store in Tottenville on SI. The article actually focuses on the potential building of a Stop & Shop supermarket at a location on a Page Avenue next door to the Wal-Mart site. What is clear, however, is that the Tottenville community is extremely concerned with the overdevelopment and concomitant traffic in their neighborhood.

In fact, even the pro-development Staten Island Borough President, James Molinaro, has predicted a "traffic nightmare" if $100 million of road improvements are not forthcoming in the impacted area. The supermarket is seen as part of the overall development challenge and, even though community people have told us that they would welcome an upscale market, there are major concerns about traffic.

This concern is best expressed by Tottenville president June Delaney who has not committed to support of the supermarket until "the city comes up with a plan-one addressing both traffic aesthetic concerns-for future development along Page Avenue." As she cogently remarks, "You can't just keep putting things there and say, 'OK, we will figure it out later."

All of which puts the plans for Wal-Mart on extremely tenuous footing. If a welcome addition like Stop & Shop is viewed with some skepticism you can imagine how the Tottenville folks feel about a regional market that will draw its customers from all over the Island.

This trepidation, however, isn't deterring the Wal-Mart people. We've just been informed that the Walmonster has hired respected NYC lobbyist Claudia Wagner to represent them before the City Council. In addition, as the Advance is reporting, the clean-up of the Lucent site on Richmond Valley Road is continuing.

The Lucent $10 million remediation is expected to last nine months and Cedarwood Development, which has the lease on the property and hopes to bring in Wal-Mart, "is expected to follow this spring with its own request for a zone change for the property." If true, than it will take a few months to review the application before it is certified for ULURP. We'd anticipate a fall certification at the earliest.

What's missing is the various requests for traffic studies and road improvements before any zoning review is conducted. The Alliance will be arguing for an independent analysis to precede any city certification of Wal-Mart.