June 2, 2023


Saying No to Wal-Mart

A Gainesville tussle is one of several area battles involving the retailer.

Bob Snell | 9/1/2004
Some dubbed it "The Battle of Hogtown Creek," pitting Wal-Mart against an unusual coalition of environmentalists and small-business advocates in Gainesville.

At issue was Wal-Mart's plan to build a supercenter at NW 53rd Avenue and U.S. 441 near the headwaters of Hogtown Creek, a narrow, often-neglected stream that meanders through the college town. At the center of the controversy were city commissioners, whose infighting over business and zoning matters has grown increasingly vitriolic.

After a long and heated debate, Wal-Mart came out on the losing end of what many saw as a surprise decision. Citing concerns about the project's impact on the quality of the creek and sales at nearby businesses, commissioners voted 5-2 against the plan.

The Gainesville fight is the latest pitting the retail giant against northeast Florida residents and politicians. In Jacksonville, Southside residents have sued to keep Wal-Mart out, while residents of another congested area have questioned the city's decision to allow a supercenter and Super Target store at the same intersection. In the past several years, leaders have also rejected Wal-Mart stores in Mayport and Fernandina Beach.

Of course, not everyone cringes when Wal-Mart calls. In Baker County, a Wal-Mart distribution center has been hailed as the rural county's most important employer. The center has steadily added workers. In Alachua, not far from where Wal-Mart's Gainesville store met its demise, city commissioners are working closely with the company as it builds a distribution center near I-75.

Wal-Mart representatives told Gainesville commissioners they were counting on landing the 91-acre Hogtown Creek site, and for many weeks it appeared the company would get its way.

But at a tumultuous final meeting in June, City Commissioner Tony Domenech -- an early Wal-Mart supporter -- voted against altering the city's comprehensive plan to allow the store. Domenech cited his loyalty to local businesses and concern about undisclosed plans for the site.

Commissioner Chuck Chestnut, another early supporter, cited a series of national controversies -- including a gender-discrimination suit against the chain -- before voting against the final plan. "There is a perception that Wal-Mart has fallen short of being a good corporate citizen," Chestnut said.

Tags: Politics & Law, Northeast, Government/Politics & Law

Florida Business News

Florida News Releases

Florida Trend Video Pick

Massive seaweed blob washing up on Florida beaches possibly full of flesh-eating bacteria
Massive seaweed blob washing up on Florida beaches possibly full of flesh-eating bacteria

For anyone who is planning on taking a beach trip, you might want to be cautious of the water if you see any seaweed on shore – some might contain flesh-eating bacteria.

Video Picks | Viewpoints@FloridaTrend

Ballot Box

DeSantis or Disney?

  • DeSantis
  • Disney
  • None of the above
  • I'm just in it for the popcorn

See Results

Florida Trend Media Company
490 1st Ave S
St Petersburg, FL 33701

© Copyright 2023 Trend Magazines Inc. All rights reserved.