Walmart is Indeed Part of Suburban Plaza Redevelopment Plan

Since my first post back in June, I’ve heard from more than one trusted anonymous source that Walmart was indeed part of the Suburban Plaza redevelopment plan.  Clairmont Heights Civic Association’s website reports that the property’s owner, Scott Selig, presented at a county community council meeting earlier this week and confirmed that Walmart is part of the plan.  According to the CHCA…

The plan has Walmart as an anchor. Other retailers were approached, but Walmart was apparently the only one with funding and interest. Walmart has offered to place underground all of their parking spaces and to add extensive landscaping. The county has expressed interest in making the N Decatur/Scott/Medlock intersection more pedestrian friendly.

All of this is in-line with what Tomorrow’s News Today originally reported back in June and what I’ve continued to hear from reliable sources who wouldn’t go on the record.

Photo courtesy of Google Streetview

91 thoughts on “Walmart is Indeed Part of Suburban Plaza Redevelopment Plan”


  1. Let the arguments begin!
    I for one am thrilled that the eyesore “gateway to Decatur” will be spiffied up!
    Hope they can/will address any concerns from the community in their planning stage.

    1. I agree, even if one hates Wal-Mart, how could it possibly be worse than the empty parking lot and eyesore that is Suburban Plaza. Interesting choice by Wal-Mart building another store that is so close to the Memorial Drive location.

  2. Do they show in a diagram how they plan to get people in an out and therefore where the traffic congestion points will be?

  3. I’m wondering how Walmart arrived at their underground parking “offer”. If I recall correctly, there were meetings with Gannon and Rader where (apparently) the developer requested county funding assistance or they’d be “forced”, economically, to go with a less attractive site plan.

    I surely hope that Dekalb county didn’t agree to what amounts to developer extortion.

    Not a fan of Walmart at all, but it will be nice to see this parcel cleaned up.

  4. I like the quaint, quasi rotting look and feel of the current Suburban Plaza. It hearkens back to the days of vast expanses of cracked, sun bleached pavement and faded storefronts. Seriously though, you know you will all shop at the new Wal Mart (which is really China in a nice red, white and blue skin). If not for the day to day items, it’ll be when you need something in a hurry or cheap.

    1. I am so upset that a walmart is what they are considering for the suburban plaza! Yes, the plaza needs to be cleaned up but with a walmart. I live less than a half a mile from this plaza and I am extremely upset. I moved to Decatur to be able to walk to things but I will NEVER set foot into a walmart for many ethical reasons. I believe most Decatur residents will be the same. Walmart just does NOT fit in with the culture of Decatur. IF this does happen, it will be a very sad day. I will be protesting and I know many, many other Decatur families who be right there with me. If no one shops there, it will become another empty store in a few years.

  5. I wonder if Walmart would subsidize the Decatur shuttle idea.

    It could be called “Wally Wheels” and they could do a big old loop around Decatur with regular stops up at their store!

    1. You know, I really love the shuttle idea (not ‘Wally Wheels’ so much, but I’d take it). I keep meaning to +1 every time you post something like this.

      When we lived in Seoul, the neighborhoods (we’re talking thousands of people per hood) had their own buses – the term literally translates to ‘village bus’ that run routes between subway stops and through the neighborhoods. I could get on at a stop near my apartment, ride down to the subway station or ride down to the local shopping area, pick up my goods, and hop back on and go home.

      It would be so awesome to have that here and it doesn’t seem like something that would be hard to make self-supporting. I realize this is off-topic, so I’ll shut up. But, *sigh*

      As for WalMart, I’m not a fan, but if they renovate that shopping center I’ll be overjoyed. Parking underground, maybe some decent sidewalks and trees around the perimeter….

    2. A shuttle that’s voluntarily subsidized by merchants would tie into Decatur’s strategic plan to improve residents’ ability to age-in-place. Transportation is a key element for any NORC (naturally occurring retirement community), so an accessible shuttle makes perfect sense.

      Albany (GA) has a new Walmart Shuttle:
      http://www.walb.com/story/14657614/albany-transit-offering-walmart-shuttle?redirected=true

      And so does Rochester, MN:
      http://aroundrochestermn.blogspot.com/2011/01/quicktip-walmart-shuttle-service-in.html

    1. Probably bulldozed and the remains taken to the Live Oak landfill. I’m sure with all of the other aging strip malls in the area, the stores that actually get patronized will relocate.

    2. Isn’t there a good bit of empty retail space on the other side of this shopping complex (side facing Church and not Medlock/N. Decatur)? Maybe they could relocate? I have not been keeping a careful eye on the tenant situation there, so I can’t say for sure, but it has never looked like it was fully occupied to me.

  6. Why Walmart will make a wonderful gateway statement for our lovely city. In fact I think we should all pitch in and build it for them kind of like a habitat for humanity project. Let’s see what should we call it? Building for billionaires? I also think our esteemed commissioners should lay the cornerstone and every single concrete block after that.

    Occupy Suburban Plaza!

    1. +1

      I don’t mind the sarcasm from other posters, but I’m guessing there’s others like me that would be happy to shut down Wal Mart’s entry to this site, so close to the downtown business district that we know and love. If anyone gets that particular movement started, I’d be included to join them.

      1. I agree, I will definitely help “occupy”! Please no Walmart in my backyard! Decatur is a city that loves it’s mom and pop, local stores, how can we allow this to happen!

    2. Courtesy of the national treasure that is David Brooks, this very morning:

      “Maybe it’s part of living in a postmaterialist economy, but nearly every practical question becomes a values question. You get politicians and commentators whose views are entirely predictable because they don’t care about the specifics of any particular issue. They just care about the status war against their social enemies and the way each issue functions as a symbol in that great fight.”

      1. Nah, I just think Walmart sucks. Way too big for anybodies good but their own. Kind of like the big banks. Way too much political clout too kind of surprised they don’t have their own army yet.

  7. I am not a personal fan of a strip mall and try to avoid them whenver possible, but I do like a good thrift store and will miss this one.

  8. *scampering to and fro in horrified alarm* The WalMarts is coming! The WalMarts is coming! Everybody– RUN!! Organize a protest, with properly spelled signs and bongos! Hide your locally-grown organic children & bicycles!!!

    (Hee-hee-hee! Just getting the petty panic party started. 😉 )

    1. I know! I move back to Decatur after a year and a half in OTP exile and Walmart follows me. For crying out out, even in Gwinnett, the nearest Wallyworld was a good 5 miles away. This one is walking distance (lack of sidewalks on Scott notwithstanding) from my house!

    2. They may have bongos, but it’s not a real protest until the wannabe hippies show up with their hacky sacks, and the smell of reefer is wafting through the air. 😉

    1. I feel privileged to say that this was my local Walmart as of a few months ago. Wait, maybe privileged isn’t the right word. When I saw “bleach fight” and “Walmart” in the same headline, how did I know it would be mine.

  9. I for one can’t wait until they abandon the store in about 5 years and bully the county into giving them something bigger with county paid road improvements.

    I may be big and fat and all but I don’t like Wallyworld.

    1. +++ One of the most irresponsible corporate citizens in America. If corporations are people, as Mitt Romney insists, then Walmart is a sociopath. Not a neighbor I want around..,.

  10. But where will they film all of the zombie flicks if the Super Giant Foods building is gone?

    Best Meat In Town! has a whole new meaning with zombies

  11. Since Emory’s is working fine, I say roundabout for Scott Medlock and North Decatur. (Big four lane one! Big Ben, Parliament!)

    1. That intersection would be perfect for a roundabout. The problem is construction and the mess it would create. Emory’s, which is at a considerably less busy intersection, took about a year to construct.

  12. So Decatur will have a Wal-Mart on both the north and south of the City. Not sure what to say about that.

    1. How long will it take them to close the Memorial Drive Walmart and leave the building unoccupied as a bargaining chip with Dekalb?

    1. Well, I thought about suggesting that having a Wal-Mart on our north and south might not encourage Trader Joe’s to consider locating nearby, but deleted that . . . sorry!

  13. I don’t think a WalMart really hurts anything other than little Kroger and Publix (and Selig also owns that Publix center so must not be too worried about it). The stores in downtown Decatur don’t sell much that compares to stuff you get at a WalMart. I think the primary market for the store is not Decaturites, but our neighbors to the north and east. I will probably go there instead of the Edgewood Target when I need paper towels.

    1. It was probably already a dead deal anyway, but if it wasn’t, this will kill any chance of a Costco at N.Dekalb Mall.

  14. As someone who lives across the street, I am NOT excited about what this is going to do to the already crappy traffic and super long light wait times at that intersection – making it more ped friendly will make it worse. Maybe Walmart will be big enough to want to buy MY house too, so I can move someplace else.

    1. Even though they are pretty much the same thing, people I know for some reason still see target as “less corp behemoth” and “not as low brow” when compared to walmart.

      1. It’s because you can pronounce Target with a French accent and call it Targ-ay (don’t know how to make that little accent mark over the e). WalMart lends itself to a harsher, more German pronunciation which is much less classy continental pronunciation.

    2. MIne most definitely would. I’d much rather have two competitors near each other, than two of the same retailer, especially when that retailer is notorious for abandoning stores.

      Maybe if Walmart opens there and decides to close one of their locations, Target can take over the store. Target has a much better track record than Wal Mart in terms of taking over dead retail space. Specifically, several Targets in the metro area are on land formerly occupied by Richway stores.

      1. I prefer Target myself but aren’t there already plenty of Targets nearby to compete with a WalMart at Suburban? There’s one on N. Druid Hills near Briarcliff, one somewhere near Lavista and I-285, and one at Edgewood Shopping Center and probably more I don’t know about.

        1. Well, none of those Targets are as close to Suburban Plaza as is the Memorial Drive Wal Mart. So, it makes little sense to open another Wal Mart. I think there’s an extremely high liklihood that Wal Mart will vacate one of those stores (probably the Memorial store) within a few years if they open a store at Suburban Plaza.

  15. Well, given the economy, if Wal-Mart wants to build there, it’ll probably happen. Dekalb County isn’t going to say no to that tax revenue. So the best way to protest Wal-Mart is to not shop there, which is what I plan to do. I don’t go to the one on Memorial Drive if I can help it. I usually buy my paper towels at Publix anyway and I’m sure the customer service at Publix will be far better than whatever Wal-Mart can offer. But I certainly hope that Wal-Mart doesn’t lead to the demise of North DeKalb Mall. I love shopping at Ross and Marshall’s, you can really find some good deals at both of them.

  16. Maybe we need to ask some serious question if they are for sure coming. Will it be 24hour? Will they sell guns? When they went into Avondale a few years ago,they got involved to make sure it was the kind of store they could tolerate. I love the thrift store too. I did find a new one today across from the Avondale Fire station and got a cashmere sweater for $5. Can’t beat that even at Walmart!!

    1. I did not know that WalMart sells guns. I have never seen guns sold at Target, Trader Joe’s, or Dollar General so now I favor any of them over WalMart. My gut tells me that a place that sells guns attracts folks that want to buy guns and, even though most gun buyers want guns for legal and legitimate reasons, a certain small percentage are not nice people. I realize that you could say the same for liquor stores and pawn shops. I also realize that we don’t get a vote on this. But if I had a vote, I’d vote for a gunless WalMart or no WalMart at all.

      1. You get to vote by electing people will pass reasonable gun control legislation, and by supporting organizations that lobby for such legislation (and doing anything you can think of and can afford to do, to subvert the NRA’s agenda). It’s ridiculous to demonize specific retailers whose sporting goods inventories include firearms. If you want to demonize channels, start with the regional gun shows.

          1. Maybe “demonizing” was overly strong for the present thread. Also, didn’t mean to pick you out of the group specifically — meant to respond to all comments above and below in the thread, lamenting that WalMart sells guns. IMO we need much more stringent and comprehensive regulation of firearms in this country — and the enforcement to make it real — and bringing up guns as a reason to oppose this particular retailer coming into this particular location rings kind of hollow. Lots of stores sell guns. The retailers (insofar as they follow the law, which I’m sure WM does) are not the problem. There are legitimate arguments to be made for and against WM coming to Suburban Plaza, but dragging straw-man issues onto the table doesn’t contribute anything, IMO.

            1. Though I’ve never actually looked for them, I’m fairly certain the Tucker and Chamblee walmarts do not sell guns.

            2. Despite coming from a long line of deer hunters, I totally support reasonable gun regulation and enforcement, especially if training is required for ownership. Actually, my deer hunter relatives would probably support the training too. They wear bright, bright, fluorescent red/orange/pink colors for good reason–too many idiots with a gun out in the woods.

    2. Hopefully this one will have normal amenities like self-checkout lanes that apparently the Memorial Dr. Wal-Mart isn’t “upscale” enough to have.

  17. @Amy, how will making it more ped friendly make this intersection worse?? Throwing myself to the wolves here, but I’m probably one of the few who thinks this isn’t such a bad thing for an incredibly dilapidated shopping center at one of the City’s key intersections. Trader Joe’s has already said they’re not coming to Decatur, so please drop it already!! I’m not a huge fan of Walmart either, but the fact that intersection improvements (both vehicular and streetscape) will be made is happening because of private investment, and a lot of it. Walmart will be one anchor tenant (not several, like the Edgewood Retail District) that could potentially breath new life into the space for dozens of businesses. What’s the worst that could happen? They close in 5 years, and Suburban Plaza becomes what, …a dilapidated shopping center?! Oh no!! At least the streetscape is nice.

    1. I suppose the worst thing could be that it closes in five years leaving a dilapidated and EMPTY shopping center. I completely agree that this location could use some sprucing up, but like others have noted, I’d hate to see Hancock’s, Decatur Estates, Suburban Trophy, and the little pottery painting place run out as a result of the new development.

      1. I own the little pottery store and I’d hate to have to relocate, I just got my Suburban Plaza groove on after two years and wanted to really settle in and make some improvements, but we were only offered month-to-month with a 60 day notice to vacate on our lease renewal (this month). I know it could take literally years for anything to happen, but two years ago when we moved to Suburan I really was hoping that we’d be one of many smaller businesses to move there to revitalize it “as is” (yes, with some clean up and such). Again, though, it’s all about “voting with your wallets” and shopping with the more local business or at least the “less-sprawling corporation” (Family Dollar?) helps. We should also recall that every Target or Wal-Mart or even my dear Hancock’s, started off as some individual’s business. Then super success (with many definitions of that) on one end can mean detriment on another. But since you won’t likely see “That Pottery Place” grow into a mega-corporation – come on down and paint a protest platter! 🙂 or a mug, a plate, an ornament, ….

    2. That intersection is not in the city. This center is in unincorporated DeKalb… just to be clear

  18. NOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    I live on Church Street and my husband commutes to Emory. I really do not like and will not shop at Walmart but my bigger concern is the TRAFFIC!!! We are going to have to move to the other side of Suburban Plaza just so his commute does not double!!! What a bummer.

    The 24 hours possibility horrifies me as does the possible sale of guns!

    I would love to see the shopping center improved but is this really an improvement?

    URGH!!

  19. I have written Selig and gotten no response. Maybe you folks that live closer ought to try to set up a meeting and ask about store specifics,or if you have a neighborhood association gather your troops. Have your say for your neighborhood! Chances are they will not be 24 hours or sell guns,but why not make sure before it is too late.

    1. I wouldn’t expect an answer from them. Selig is not noted from being community-friendly. They were the developers who wanted to locate the Decatur CVS back in the corner of the parking lot instead of up on the street corner.

    1. They shouldn’t be banned from doing so, but maybe they would consider not selling them as a gesture of goodwill, if their new neighbors express that it’s something they’re concerned about.

      If someone got the idea to open a gun shop near the Square, just far enough from the high school to be legal, they would probably be met with resistance, and this isn’t much farther or different really.

      1. What if residents in Decatur would like a local place to purchase firearms/ammunition?
        If people are worried about it being a safety issue, should Wal-Mart not sell knives either?

        1. If Decaturites wanted to purchase guns locally, they would probably insist that they be organic, locally made as in from Gunpowder to Table, not made in countries with underpaid or child labor, and LEED-certified. 🙂

        2. I’m more worried about them selling computers. That seems to be the weapon of choice in Decatur. People buy them, hook them up to the internets with some fancy high-speed, intermittently working connection and then come to DM land to tear each other apart!

        3. If the people in the community want it, and the market supports it, then fine, sell away.

          I bet there are significant number of our neighbors who would cartwheel to get to Walmart, if they could start buying their porno, guns, ammunition and alcohol all in 1 nearby stop.

          But whether the community at large wants something like that, is ultimately what dictates what they will sell.

          I’m not anti-gun or anti-Walmart, but I do think community input should be considered when they move into a new neighborhood.

  20. What will become of Big Lots? This is where I go when I need paper towels – can get in and out faster then either Walmart or Taget and much cheaper too!

  21. Wal-Mart owns the property on Memorial Drive which is why Avondale Estates couldn’t do much re: influencing the use of the property since their use was w/in zoning. They asked AE to annex the property and they declined. I do doubt that Wal-Mart would abandon this site since they are the property owner. (Scott, perhaps u can confirm that they haven’t sold the property in a sale leaseback scenario)

    As for Suburban, the play would be to pressure Selig for community input into the development of the site. Pressure is key in this case. The folks in the Howell Mill community PRESSURE the developer of that site which includes the Wal-Mart and they ensured Wal-Mart wasn’t an eyesore for that development.

  22. Wal mart is bad
    Target is good

    Microsoft is bad
    Apple is good

    Trader Joes is good
    Dollar General is bad

    It goes on and on. People are overly influenced by unwarranted and undeserved perceptions. Mostly, if you look under the surface, its hipster elitism being portrayed as the will of the people! If only Wal MArt could figure out the hipster elitist demographic.

  23. Just please PLEASE don’t let it be an ugly red/white/blue Wal-Mart. Can’t it be toned down like some zoning laws require? It could be a more attractive brown or something unobtrusive. If there’s a W-M on the corner, I’ll probably have to find a better way to downtown Decatur…

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