From Crain’s New York:
The 630,000-square-foot Gateway II shopping center off Jamaica Bay in Brooklyn is among the sites Walmart is eyeing in a renewed push to build its first New York City store, sources familiar with the situation say.
Union leaders, fearful of a potential Walmart deal at the Related Cos.-owned site near Spring Creek Towers, are planning a protest in the next 10 days, but so far both the Arkansas-based retail giant and the developer insist there is nothing to announce.
“We know that New Yorkers want to shop and work at Walmart, and as a result, we continue to evaluate potential opportunities here,” says Steven Restivo, the company’s director of community affairs. “New Yorkers want quality jobs and affordable groceries, and it remains our goal to be part of the solution.”
So far, no lease has been signed between Walmart and Related Cos. But, according to Crain’s, Gateway offers an as-of-right development site, meaning Walmart’s plans won’t need to be voted on by the City Council, where the elected are heavily dependent on union votes.
Gateway is also looking pretty snazzy to Walmart suits because it has a “low-income population nearby and pent-up demand for jobs and supermarkets.”
Two earlier attempts by Walmart to secure an outer-borough location were successfully fought by labor unions and community groups. They thought the stingy wages were bad for workers, while low prices could steal customers from unionized competitors like Duane Reade and Key Food.
Similarly, the possibility of a Gateway location is riling up some of the established retailers nearby, including BJ’s Wholesale Club and Target.
“We don’t like how they treat workers as it relates to salaries and benefits, and we’re not going to have them in our community,” says City Councilman Charles Barron, D-Brooklyn. “They will have the fight of their lives.”
United Food and Commercial Workers Local 1500 is planning a protest in the next week and is already arguing that Related’s earlier traffic study presented to gain land-use approval did not take into account a Walmart being situated in Gateway II. The union is planning to send canvassers out to the neighborhood to drum up opposition to a potential Walmart.
“Walmart was never, ever mentioned once through the entire land-use process,” says Pat Purcell, assistant to the president of UFCW Local 1500. “The area cannot sustain a Walmart, a Target and a BJs. In this area, it’s a job killer; it’s just the wrong use.”
What do you think? Is Walmart welcome on Brooklyn’s southern coast?