Wal-Mart Supercenter plans delayed until 2014

Corey Pride / Cpride@losbanosenterprise.comDecember 13, 2012 

It will be 2014 before Wal-Mart opens as a supercenter in Los Banos, according to store spokeswoman Delia Garcia.

"I see that it was supposed to open in 2013. I'm not sure why it's not," Garcia said.

She said she'd attempt to contact officials at Wal-Mart Stores Inc. overseeing the project to ask why there's a delay, but no explanation was provided by presstime.

Paula Fitzgerald, Community Development Department director, did not return phone calls asking for comment. Assistant Planner Stacy Souza said the department has not heard from Wal-Mart in a while, but the big-box chain has completed what was required by the Community Development Department.

"They're good with us, all they have to do is pick up their permits and go. We were expecting to hear from them because they told us they would be open by July 4," Souza said.

City staff and the California Department of Transportation are discussing the best way to prevent accidents near Wal-Mart as it expands to a supercenter.

Wal-Mart's supercenter will be 67,200 square feet bigger than the current store and will include a larger grocery section, a full-service deli and a bakery. The project will be accompanied by three commercial retail spaces totaling 69,300 square feet.

According to city records, the three spaces will be for restaurants and retail shops.

Garcia said Wal-Mart remains committed to expansion in Los Banos.

"Obviously, we want to grow and our supercenter is the driver of growth. It gives our customers the opportunity for one-stop shopping," Garcia said.

She said construction on the supercenter is slated for the summer of 2013. The store was originally scheduled to open by that time.

In September the state Department of Transportation expressed concerns that westbound motorists on Highway 152 will try to access the supercenter, and the three new shops expected to accompany it, by making left turns in front of traffic.

As a solution, Caltrans proposed an extended median starting on Highway 152 near Badger Flat Road and continuing to Stonecreek Boulevard. At the time, the city did not believe the median was necessary. It is unknown if the issue has been resolved or whether it is responsible for the delay.

Wal-Mart's first traffic plan was to extend Stonecreek Boulevard on the land north from Prairie Springs Road near the store. The land, which was owned by Stonecreek Properties, is in foreclosure. Wal-Mart cannot obtain permission to build the street.

A revised arrangement was approved in May. It includes a traffic signal at the intersection of Stonecreek Boulevard and Highway 152 and adding left turn lanes on Badger Flat Road.

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