Now that Walmart has announced that they will not be coming to Atascadero, what has to happen to promote development of the Walmart project?
Atascadero has to become partners with Walmart. Currently, there are so many conditions and financial agreements in place I would think the property is not marketable as is. The greed must be eliminated. I would suggest the city try to work with Walmart by waiving all permit fees and costs and encourage them to go ahead and complete the grading that will be required to develop the property. A developed parcel would be a more marketable item.
With the grading completed, and Walmart out of any further development, the traffic analysis needs to be reviewed and the $5 million-plus improvements needs to either be eliminated or modified for whatever new use that the property will be utilized for. A new analysis with a different use and lower traffic count may eliminate the need for the Del Rio Road highway off-ramp roundabouts and possibly the El Camino Real and Del Rio Road roundabout. If that were to occur, the Del Rio Marketplace could start development if it chooses to.
Recently, the city has talked about drawing high-tech businesses to town. This site may be a good location to develop a business park that would have far less of an impact with future traffic conditions. This could bring the high-paying jobs to town that everyone is talking about. These high-tech businesses could also produce significant sales tax revenue for the city.
I would hope that the city has learned a lesson from the Walmart experience and will actually promote businesses to come to town by initially granting financial relief and looking toward the long-term investments and returns that the city could receive.
-- Bob Kelley - former City Council member, Atascadero