Is Super Wal-Mart coming?

Published 12:00 am Saturday, June 7, 2003

That's been the question asked by residents of Greenville for months now, and indications are the company is forging ahead with plans to locate the retailing behemoth in an area off of Cahaba Road, behind Ruby Tuesday and The Jameson Inn.

City officials say $650,000 has been allocated for months to build an Interstate access road in the area for retailing purposes, but the road would facilitate the retailer expanding in Greenville with Wal-Mart set to pitch in an additional $550,000 to bring the roadway up to their specifications. Estimates show that Super Wal-Mart could possibly add an additional $500,000 in annual sales tax revenue to the city.

While no timeline has been set in stone, Michael Hoffman, a consultant for Southeast Capital Investments, who has been working with both the city, Wal-Mart and Nova Cinetech, a proposed movie theater chain owner who hopes to occupy Wal-Mart's current building once it's vacated, said bringing the projects together is a very time consuming, difficult process.

&uot;I think it is a complicated process when you involve lots of different entities such as we have here,&uot; he said. &uot;We've always thought there would be two components to it and the first was the supercenter, and it has to be built and in place before their old building would be available (for a theater).&uot;

Hoffman said the Wal-Mart project is a priority, because without Wal-Mart's current building, located near Interstate 65 in the Winn Dixie shopping complex, the movie theater complex wouldn't have a home.

&uot;We've put more emphasis on getting the Wal-Mart project done than the theater,&uot; he said. &uot;There's just a logical progression to the plan. There's about a year or two in between the two projects and the theater project is not as far along as the Wal-Mart project.&uot;

He also said Nova Cinetech had their financing organized to bring the five screen movie complex to Greenville, but it was just a matter of having the facility available to make it a reality. Buck Kolkmeyer, president of Nova Cinetech, did not return phone calls for comment.

Nancy Idland, director of Greenville Main Street, an organization that works toward developing downtown Greenville businesses, said while the expansion of Wal-Mart might threaten some of the town's small businesses, it will create opportunities as well.

&uot;All of that is to create more revenue which is a good thing for our community,&uot; she said. &uot;But we all know that when a supercenter is built it will create a hardship for some of our small local businesses. But if we all stay positive and use it as an opportunity to showcase how special we are, then it's an opportunity for us all to succeed. If some of the folks would take a hard look at the services they offer and capitalize on that, then we all will survive.&uot;

Greenville Mayor Dexter McLendon has been vocal about getting a movie theater in Greenville and said yesterday that the city is continuing to work on realizing that dream for residents, one way or another.

&uot;If Nova doesn't work out we have some other movie theater companies we're working with that could come to Greenville,&uot; he said. &uot;My whole thing is we don't want there to be an empty (building) there and if we don't get Nova there as a movie theater, we'll get somebody else to put a movie theater there.&uot;

McLendon said he feels the city will know something definite about both the Wal-Mart and the movie theater by the end of the summer.