Courtesy City of Cedar Park
Rezoning plans for a second Walmart were presented to the Cedar Park City Council at its July 12 meeting.
Walmart announced in December plans to build a new superstore at the northwest corner of FM 1431 and Ronald Reagan Boulevard. Construction on the 180,000-square-foot retail building is expected to begin in January, with the store tentatively scheduled to open in early 2014, according to Henry Gilmore, Walmart's land use lawyer from Dubois, Bryant and Campbell LLP in Austin.
The new Walmart superstore will employ 300 people and feature an efficient and environmentally friendly design, Gilmore told the council.
The project has city staff and Planning and Zoning Commission approval, Cedar Park Planning Director Rawls Howard said. The building will have a much more contemporary design than the original Walmart on Bell Boulevard, he said.
The project's plans were submitted before the City Council approved new big-box development standards June 28, but Walmart developers still attempted to meet many of the design expectations outlined in the new ordinance, Howard said.
“They tried to design the store as close to standards as possible,” he said, estimating the blueprint is 75–80 percent in compliance. “Technically, they didn't have to meet those standards to begin with.”
The project drew concern from nearby neighbors Sharon and Roland Krienke, who each spoke at the July 12 public hearing. They each voiced safety concerns, both traffic and criminal.
“I'm against 24-hour stores," Sharon Krienke said. "I just think there's a high crime rate that goes along with these stores."
Gilmore said Walmart has not settled on keeping the new Walmart open at all hours, but store officials would prefer to do so.
“We're in a competitive business, and we want to be able to compete,” he said, using the H-E-B across the road from the proposed location as an example of nearby competition.
Aside from a right-turn-only entrance and exit along Ronald Reagan Boulevard, a new traffic signal is expected to be placed at FM 1431 and Market Street to help accommodate traffic in and out of the proposed store. The added traffic will create an especially congested intersection, Roland Krienke told the council.
“I guarantee you five years from now, that's going to make a tremendous traffic jam between Market [Street] and [FM] 1431, and nobody even seems to be concerned,” he said.
Cedar Park Mayor Matt Powell said he has voiced opposition in the past over having a traffic signal at Market Street, but the pending development likely makes it “unavoidable.”
The City Council did not act on the first hearing to rezone 29.68 acres from development reserve to general retail conditional overlay. A second hearing will be held at the July 26 meeting.