City Beat

Wal-Mart planning superstore in Sacramento’s Delta Shores project

Less than a year after the Sacramento City Council eased restrictions on new big box superstores in the city, Wal-Mart announced on Friday that it intends to construct a Supercenter as the anchor tenant of a massive development in south Sacramento.

The 190,000-square-foot retail center is the first signed tenant for Delta Shores, a planned community of shopping centers and 5,000 homes along Interstate 5 south of the Pocket and Meadowview neighborhoods. The store is scheduled to open as early as 2016.

“There aren’t many tenants that can set the stage for a project like Delta Shores,” said Gary Muljat, a spokesman for Merlone Geier, the firm developing the commercial space in the project. “Wal-Mart is the largest retailer in the world.”

Wal-Mart’s entry into Sacramento with its first Supercenter could touch off opposition from organized labor groups that have battled with the giant chain for years over wages and benefits.

Bill Camp, a leader of the Sacramento Central Labor Council, said he wasn’t sure yet Friday whether the group would mount an organized fight against the project. But Camp and other labor leaders spoke out against the City Council vote last year to ease regulation of big box chains.

“I think Wal-Mart drives down wages, and as long as the city promotes low-wage industries, we’re going to have a low-wage economy,” he said.

The project will likely need planning commission approval and could be debated by the City Council before proceeding.

Company spokeswoman Delia Garcia said the store would create 300 jobs and include grocery and pharmacy facilities.

“This is a great opportunity to be part of a much larger project in the community and to be closer to our customers,” Garcia said. “Many people are shopping outside the city, so we are really excited to be able to offer one-stop shopping closer to home.”

In addition to Wal-Mart, Delta Shores is expected to include a movie theater, pet supply store, a sporting goods store, clothing stores and restaurants, Muljat said.

The City Council voted last August to repeal much of a 2006 ordinance that had created a de facto ban on big box superstores in the city. The ordinance had required the chains to conduct complicated wage and economic impact studies.

Building groups that lobbied for months to scale back the restrictions applauded Friday’s announcement.

“While advocating for the repeal of the city’s big box ordinance, we heard time and time again about the importance of having a strong anchor tenant like Wal-Mart,” Joshua Wood, executive director of pro-development group Region Builders, said in a statement. “We are glad to hear Delta Shores has signed its strong anchor tenant and will be bringing jobs and shopping opportunities to the city of Sacramento as early as fall 2016. We are proud to support any effort that will advance regional economic development.”

Wal-Mart opened its first discount store in California in 1990. Within a decade, it had more than 100 here, according to data on the proliferation of the company collected by University of Minnesota professor Thomas Holmes.

Today, Wal-Mart operates more than 200 Supercenters and discount stores in California, according to the company’s website. And there’s room for plenty more: The Golden State has barely half as many Walmarts as Texas.