Walmart backs out on opening new store in Frederick

FREDERICK, MD (WUSA9) - We're supposed to be celebrating the workforce this Labor Day weekend. Instead, several people in Frederick may be losing a big number of expected jobs.

Walmart recently announced it is pulling-out of a long-term plan.

A Walmart was supposed to serve as an anchor store with at least a dozen new businesses at the site where the old Frederick Towne Mall is now just sitting.

That's off of Rt. 40 in a stretch called the Golden Mile.

Phillis Kolb visited the Home Depot on the other end. She told WUSA9 she worked in retail for more than 30-years and isn't a fan.

"They're a great company to come in and what they call, is rape the land and then move out. So this time, they didn't come in. So good,” said Kolb.

Others who see the abandoned mall all the time expressed disappointment.

“I think they're making a mistake,” said Joanne Campbell.

"I think it's sad,” said Pete Matos.

"It's sad because I think it could use something around here for some economic development. Keep people employed. Give them some hope,” said John Mainville.

Walmart announced plans to pull out of a deal that area businessmen say was about five years in the making. They were going to demolish the old mall and build a 4-building shopping center with 16-retail businesses including restaurants and shops.

However, everything, dependent on the Walmart being there, the president of the Golden Mile Alliance, Justin Kiska, told WUSA9 over the phone.

He said Walmart pulling out is "nothing short of devastating" and "a linchpin to the redevelopment.”

The project, Kiska added, is now pretty much now "dead in the water” when asked if the accompanying businesses can still open in 2017 as anticipated.

"I think there's a lot of unemployed people here that … aren't qualified for big jobs so. It would've been big starting position,” said Campbell.

Earlier this year, Walmart faced harsh criticism for pulling out of two undeserved areas in Washington D.C. Some say at least in Frederick, there are two other Walmart locations maybe 20 minutes away.

Lovelle Ferrell now uses abandoned mall space as his jogging path.

"I was looking forward to the convenience of Walmart. But at the same time, I had a little reservation because of the ongoing traffic that it was going to bring,” Farrell said.

With the company now out, some are hoping maybe this can be a redevelopment opportunity.

"You know the smaller businesses, the more unique businesses, you get the more unique shopper in so that would attract me more to this area than just having a general Walmart in,” said a shopper hoping to attract a younger shopping audience as well.

Of the two Walmart locations in Frederick is currently undergoing renovations.

Walmart’s Director of Public Affairs, Phillip Keene, referenced this location in the follwing statement writing:

“As we evaluate opportunities to better serve our Maryland customers, we have made a business decision to no longer pursue the proposed store at the Frederick Towne Mall site. We greatly appreciate the support of the City and many residents during the planning of this project.  The construction of our new Supercenter at Liberty Road and Monocacy Boulevard confirms our overall dedication to the City and region. We look forward to continuing to serve our customers in and around Frederick.”


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