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What “abandoned former Wal-Mart sites”?

January 21, 2006, 11:17 PM

In the Staunton News Leader‘s January 21, 2006 house editorial, they discussed about the Frontier Culture Museum’s plan for using some of its property fronting US 250 and Frontier Drive for retail in order to help fund the museum’s programs (the museum itself is back and out of sight from the front of the property).

What made my ears perk up while reading this was this paragraph about the facility that anchors all this development:

Remember too that the retail leviathan that anchors the area is an aging Wal-Mart. Those who recall all the other abandoned former Wal-Mart sites around Staunton can attest that this chain is not the most faithful.

I question the accuracy of this statement. I am not even going to touch the issue of how “faithful” Wal-Mart is, because it’s immaterial to the discussion.

I’m going to be really liberal with the notion of “around Staunton” to include Lexington, Harrisonburg, and Charlottesville. So we’re talking a good 50-mile or so radius around Staunton. I came up with nine sites that were ever associated with Wal-Mart in that area. Six of those sites contain operating Wal-Mart stores – Staunton, Waynesboro, Harrisonburg, Dayton, Charlottesville, and Lexington. Another site in Charlottesville contains an operating Sam’s Club location. The other two sites are the former locations of the Staunton and Harrisonburg Wal-Marts, which were closed when both stores moved to Supercenters in 1995 and 2003 respectively.

So “all the other abandoned former Wal-Mart sites around Staunton” amounts to all of two properties, and one of them is in the next county.

In addition, neither one of these properties are actually abandoned, as in with no organization occupying the site. Both sites have been redeveloped.

In Staunton, the former Wal-Mart held a Sun Television and Appliances in about a third of the building from 1997 to 1998, and then in 2000 or so, the entire site was purchased by Federated Auto Parts and is actively in use as a warehouse. Recall, in this photo from April of 2005:

Former Staunton Wal-Mart location

Federated also bought the old Lowe’s next door (which moved to a new location next to the present Wal-Mart), and also the old Rack and Sack building at the other end of the same shopping center.

Then in Harrisonburg, the old Wal-Mart was connected to the east end of the Valley Mall. That building, along with the mall’s food court, was demolished in 2005. Recall from last February:

Site of former Harrisonburg Wal-Mart location

That area has now been completely redeveloped into new retail usage. A Target and an Old Navy store now stand on the site of the old Wal-Mart and food court. I’ve been to the Target there. Very nice. As for Old Navy, I know I’m too fat and too cheap for their clothes, so I just stay clear.

So what “abandoned former Wal-Mart sites around Staunton” are they referring to? I certainly don’t see any.

Web site: Photo set of an abandoned Wal-Mart in Waterville, Maine

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