D.C. Walmart faces another potential delay

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Photo - The Walmart development site on New Jersey Avenue and H Street NW.
The Walmart development site on New Jersey Avenue and H Street NW.
Local,DC,Liz Farmer

Developers of what would be D.C.'s first Walmart store are striking back at a group of residents opposed to the project, saying their latest objection to the development is a delaying tactic that is costing the city jobs and revenue.

A Walmart spokesman said the 106,000-square-foot store is slated to start construction this month at the intersection of Georgia and Missouri avenues Northwest in D.C.'s Brightwood neighborhood, putting it on pace to open by the end of 2013. It would be the first of what is expected to be six Walmarts opening in the District.

But a group of residents have now filed an opposition to the city's zoning appeals board asking for reconsideration of the building permit Foulger-Pratt was awarded in June. It's the second appeal related to the project.

This appeal could delay construction by four months, costing the developer up to $63,000 a month, attorneys for Foulger-Pratt said in their response to the appeal, which asks for an expedited hearing on the matter.

"It is clear that Appellant's sole reason for its actions over the past twelve months has been to delay and derail this Project," their response to the appeals board said.

But William Washington, one of the six residents appealing the permit, said residents are frustrated with Walmart and the city's support for the project. Although the company has held numerous meetings in the community, he said they held just one directed at the association of residents who live on the same block as the planned store.

"It's been a lack of respect from their side," said Washington, who lives in an building that backs up to the proposed Walmart's parking lot. "It's not a misguided tactic -- we don't have a lot of options available to us."

Walmart spokesman Steven Restivo accused them of blocking "new fresh food options" for the neighborhood, which has a shortage of major grocery stores. He said they also owe an explanation to "the dozens of" locally-owned businesses that will work on the store's construction and the "thousands of residents who want to apply for a job."

The store is expected to generate 300 jobs and $2 million in annual tax revenue for the District.

Walmart has failed to keep the ambitious timeline it created when it first announced two years ago that it was opening stores in D.C. Leaders said at that time the company would open four stores, including the Georgia Avenue one by the end of 2012. Now, two stores are expected to be open by the end of 2013 and other developments don't have a set date.

lfarmer@washingtonexaminer.com

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Liz Farmer

Examiner Staff Writer
The Washington Examiner