Walmart is still coming, Atascadero.
That's at least what city officials are saying after the Atascadero Planning Commission approved a one-year extension for the project’s parcel map on Aug. 16, yet again raising doubts about the retail giant’s commitment to Atascadero.
Phil Dunsmore, Atascadero’s community development director, told New Times that the delay isn’t an indication that Walmart is reconsidering the project, but is related to the fact that the project is complicated and that parcel maps are only viable for two years after they’re submitted.
“We had no other option except to ask for the extension, because their map expired about a month ago,” Dunsmore said. “It doesn’t mean they’re going to take that full year. It just means we get a few weeks or months to be able to finish up taking care of all their conditions.”
One of those conditions was met on Aug. 9, when the City Council approved the formation of a Community Facilities District for Walmart to pay for site infrastructure, like streetlights and gutters.
“It’s basically a tax on Walmart to pay for those things,” Dunsmore said.
He said previous years of uncertainty surrounding the project contributed to the parcel map time crunch. In 2015, Walmart was stuck awaiting approval from its corporate offices to move forward, Dunsmore said.
Atascadero views Walmart as a valuable asset for tax revenue. The city would receive both property and sales taxes from the store if it gets built. But the project has received intense opposition from parts of the community since it was first proposed in 2006.
“Plans did get delayed. It took them a lot longer than they thought,” he said.