Wal-Mart Stores Inc., which faced challenges last year in its bid to open a Supercenter in Elk Grove, announced Tuesday that it has hired a general contractor to begin work on an even larger general merchandise store at the same site.
Wal-Mart has yet to receive the necessary building permit from the city to begin construction at the southeast corner of Bruceville Road and Whitelock Parkway.
But Delia Garcia, spokeswoman for the retailer in the Western region, said the building permit is expected soon. The company has a site permit from the city for grading and other work already under way. "In anticipation, we've begun work that needs to happen anyway so that we can bring this store to fruition as quickly as possible," Garcia said. The store, the city's second, is to be completed in early 2013.
John Glikbarg, a principal with Village Properties in Belmont, said the site also will have about 40,000 square feet of shops and restaurants.
The announcement followed several years of acrimony over the proposed Walmart, one that brought a lawsuit from nearby residents who opposed the store over its potential for traffic, noise and crime.
"We had a pretty significant opposition of the folks that live in that area," Mayor Jim Cooper said. "They're opposed to the site."
Cooper called the announcement "a mixed bag."
"Obviously, people want to get the best prices they can on goods. But Wal-Mart has a track record that sometimes isn't the greatest in terms of crime problems," said Cooper, a Sacramento County Sheriff's Department captain.
He questioned whether Wal-Mart will follow through on its promise to keep the existing site on Elk Grove Boulevard just west of Highway 99 open since the two stores will be less than five miles apart.
And the attorney for the project's opponents said that the store, if it includes groceries, should not go forward without a new conditional use permit. The conditional use permit issued for Target, which pulled out of the center, should not cover Wal-Mart, he said.
"If Wal-Mart's construction plans for that site include any type of grocery component without first obtaining a new conditional permit, that's a violation of the current judgment and could constitute contempt of court," said Brett Jolley, attorney for Friends of Madeira, which filed suit against the project.
City spokeswoman Christine Brainerd countered that the conditional use permit granted for the Vineyard at Madeira project, which at the time called for a Target, is valid for Wal-Mart. Last year, Sacramento Superior Court Judge Lloyd Connelly declined to act on the environmental issues that Friends of Madeira raised in a lawsuit. He said the City Council should have decided whether to approve the Walmart Supercenter. Instead, the city planning director determined the project could go forward.
Wal-Mart's proposal for a Supercenter would have included a full line of groceries, including fresh meats, fruits and vegetables, in a 100,000- square-foot building. Its general merchandise store would have a more limited grocery section in a 148,200-square-foot store.