Update: The proposal on New Jersey Avenue in the District of Columbia is really remarkable — see renderings on this page — for a Walmart. Reports Greater Greater Washingtonblog: “This is by far the best of the proposals. Located on the fringes of downtown, it is appropriately dense and mixed-use. The building will be five floors, with small format retail lining the H Street sidewalk, Wal-Mart behind, parking underground, and 315 apartments on the upper floors.”
Walmart is planning four to six stores in the District of Columbia.
These are not going to be typical suburban Walmarts on 20 acres with seas of parking. In the Brightwood neighborhood on upper Georgia Avenue, the retailer has to fit the big box on a very tight 4-acre site and will therefore eliminate surface parking and locate the store close to the sidewalk:
“It isn’t yet clear whether the entire store will be able to fit into a single story or whether a second floor will be necessary, but in any event the parking will be located in an underground garage directly below the store” Greater Greater Washington says, in its first installment in this series. “The entrance will face the sidewalk 20-30 feet back from the curb. That will make for either a comfortably wide sidewalk or a narrow landscaped strip.”
The development will not be mixed-use. Another proposal, on New York Avenue, includes a Walmart in what is described as a “tightly packed power center.” The plan calls for 360,000 square feet of retail on 15 acres, with structure parking.
The architecture in the New York and Georgia avenue proposals remain question marks. Many important details of the urban design, furthermore, are not yet publicly known. Will the frontages and street edges be engaging to pedestrians? Yet they promise to be significantly better than the retail giant’s typical suburban stores.
Wal-Mart flirted with the idea of building one of its big boxes as part of a mixed-use urban center in Pass Christian, Mississippi, but ultimately decided to build a conventional store instead. The idea for the urban center began with new urbanists drawing at the Mississippi Renewal Charrette, after Hurricane Katrina, in 2005, and then was developed further by Pass Christian architect Robin Riley, New Orleans developer Pres Kabacoff, and their partners.