By Dennis Seid
TUPELO – The first of what could be as many as three smaller-format Walmart stores in Tupelo is expected to be built this year.
On Thursday, Tupelo Development Services Director Shane Hooper confirmed that Wal-Mart Stores Inc. had officially requested a permit to build a 40,000-square-foot Walmart Neighborhood Market in the city.
The store will be located at the corner of South Gloster and Carnation streets, between the former Atlanta Bread Co. restaurant and The Imaging Center.
The location will have a grocery, bakery and deli, pharmacy, health and beauty supplies, some household items and a gas station.
Hooper said there’s no specific time frame yet as to when the store will be built.
Four Neighborhood Markets have opened in Northeast Mississippi: Mantachie, Nettleton, Belmont and Walnut, all last fall. Those stores are even smaller, about 12,000 square feet.
The Tupelo location would represent a $10 million investment and would employ 65 people with an annual payroll of $2.6 million.
Hooper said Wal-Mart has not filed anything official with the other two potential locations, which are reportedly on McCullough Boulevard near the Northern Loop and at the intersection of Thomas Street and Cliff Gookin Boulevard.
“They’ve only requested a permit for this one store,” he said. “Whether or not they pursue the others, we don’t know.”
Mayor Jason Shelton said the city did not actively recruit the retailer; rather, the retailer had been looking at Tupelo and found a spot it liked.
Hooper said the area where the store will be built is zoned for retail, and no variances will be required. Shelton said no variances will be given.”
“I certainly understand the passion and sentiment of the citizens of Tupelo who don’t want another Walmart,” Shelton said. “I appreciate that, and I believe in shopping local. It’s something I practice myself. But I want to stress that Walmart has come to Tupelo, purchased the required permit and is opening a business just like any other business has the right to do.
“The city isn’t providing any incentives, any enticements. Walmart will bear all the expenses for their facility. Tupelo is the No. 2 micropolitan in the nation for economic development, and as such makes us desirable for businesses large and small to invest here. They made the decision to open that location, and hopefully that won’t have any adverse impact on any other mom-and-pop business in the area. In fact, we’re hopeful that the store will help the surrounding businesses benefit and help contribute to the continuing revitalization of South Gloster.”
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