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Walmart plans Valley store near Costco

Fri., March 12, 2010

Walmart store, not a Sam’s Club, to be built at East Sprague location

Walmart says it will square off with Costco Wholesale Corp. in the Spokane Valley.

The Bentonville, Ark., retail behemoth announced Thursday it will build a 151,000-square-foot retail center on a parcel of land due west of Costco’s store at 5601 E. Sprague Ave.

That would be a bit larger than Costco’s East Sprague warehouse, which is about 148,000 square feet.

In 2006 Walmart paid $7.6 million for 24 acres of undeveloped land on the same side of Sprague as Costco. At the time the company said it would build a Sam’s Club store at that site and a second Sam’s Club in north Spokane.

Those plans changed in the past few years, said Walmart spokeswoman Jennifer Spall.

Walmart now believes the East Sprague site is better suited for a general retail store, Spall said.

Sam’s Club stores typically sell discounted items in bulk for dues-paying members, much the way Costco’s stores do.

The new Walmart store will eventually hire about 300 workers and offer a full range of merchandise, along with a pharmacy, deli, meat and produce departments.

The decision to move forward isn’t tied to a rebound in the retail sector, Spall said.

“In this case we have heard from customers, and what they really want is affordable groceries. That is why we are bringing them a Walmart,” Spall wrote in an e-mail.

Construction is not expected to begin until 2011.

A traffic study prepared by Kirkland-based consulting firm Transpo Group estimated the peak weekday traffic impact would be 502 vehicles entering or leaving Walmart’s parking lot between 4 and 6 p.m. That study was presented this month to the city of Spokane Valley’s traffic engineer and was based on 2012 traffic projections, said Carolbelle Branch, the city’s public information officer.

The store’s new address is listed as 4315 E. Sprague Ave.

Walmart now has four retail stores in Spokane County, including a supercenter about eight miles east of the proposed site on East Sprague.

Spokane Valley Mayor Tom Towey, in an e-mail message, said the addition of a large Walmart store is welcome.

“It (a retail development of this size) would be an asset for the entire region. If we can continue to open up opportunities like this for jobs for our citizens, then it’s a win-win situation,” he wrote.

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