LAWRENCEVILLE — For the third time in three months, officials have given the go-ahead for the development of a Walmart store, marking a resurgence of the local development of stores.
The latest plan, for which commissioners approved variances Tuesday, would redevelop a former Wayfield Foods on Winters Chapel Road in Doraville to a Walmart Neighborhood Market.
The 35,000-square-foot store will join another neighborhood market approved in August to be built on Main Street in Snellville, the site of a former RV dealership.
Last month, commissioners approved a location for a supercenter at the corner of Jimmy Carter Boulevard and Rockbridge Road, where a former Kmart had moved out.
“At any time when you get the world’s largest retailer investing in this many projects ... it’s a very positive thing,” said Nick Masino, who heads economic development for the Gwinnett Chamber of Commerce. He especially is excited about the new store concept and the opportunities for redevelopment.
“Retail chases rooftops,” he said of a county once one of the fastest growing in the nation. Despite the downturn in the economy, Masino said the Walmart resurgence is a sign of better things to come. “We have a new norm in regards to growth and investment, but it’s still very above average. ... That’s really exciting.”
Commissioner Lynette Howard, who represents the area where two of the three new centers will be located, said the redevelopment of older shopping centers is vital to the community. She said both projects would repair stormwater issues.
“It’s revitalizing an area that needs a little help,” she said. “Both of these projects are fabulous.”
Walmart spokesman Glen Wilkins said he did not want to speculate on the economy, but he said the new market concept is exciting for the company.
“We saw an area that we weren’t serving our customers as well and we found an opportunity to redevelop,” he said, adding that a few more locations are under consideration, especially in the Marietta area. On the Winters Chapel location, he said, “We’re glad we were able to find an opportunity to come in with a grocery store with a pharmacy and provide a better shopping experience for our customers.”