Thursday, May 18, 2006

Where, Oh Where, Has My Wal-Mart Gone?

This week's Crain's New York Business has a piece ("Wal-Mart's Long Search"$) on the difficulties that Wal-Mart is encountering trying to find an adequate space for a store in New York City. As the company says, "We're interested in New York, and we're looking at all possible options."

The article doesn't really break any new ground and reiterates an observation that we've made in the past that the best site would be an as-of-right location that didn't have to go through land use review. This is easier said than done. In addition, it is likely that the first store would only sell dry goods and not groceries because, unlike the Crain's take, such a move would allow them to avoid, or at least minimize, the UFCW's opposition while settling for a smaller, easier to locate, building at the same time.

Clearly, however, developers are scared of getting the Wal-Mart version of tar baby. As Jesse James Masyr points out Wal-Mart "adds a level of political hysteria to the project..." In response to its critics the Walmonster is trying to woo minority groups and small businesses. But, as Crain's points out and we agree, "Still, the overtures may not be enough to help the company find a suitable site in New York."