What’s up with new Walmarts in Clark County?

No start date for store at 143rd and 4th Plain; 2 other sites still rumors

By Cami Joner, Columbian retail & real estate reporter

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Wal-Mart Stores Inc. has still not set a start date for its planned Vancouver store at the corner of Northeast 143rd Avenue and Fourth Plain Boulevard, despite the “coming soon” sign that has sat there for years.

But a spokeswoman said the company still plans to move forward with the full-service Walmart store, intended to carry fresh groceries and general merchandise. The store is expected to create jobs for about 300 people, according to Rachel Wall, senior manager of community affairs for Wal-Mart, which operates three stores in Clark County.

Wall did not elaborate when asked for details.

“We do not have anything further to announce at this time,” she said.

Meanwhile, other sites around the county are rumored to be up for consideration for stores by Walmart parent, Bentonville, Ark.-based Wal-Mart Stores Inc. The company has been linked to plans to redevelop at least two vacant Vancouver spaces into its smaller-store concept, the Walmart Neighborhood Market.

So far, no activity has occurred at either desolate location -- a former Fred Meyer store now vacant at Fourth Plain Boulevard and Grand boulevards and a former WinCo Foods store in Vancouver Plaza off state Highway 500 and Thurston Way,

“I don’t have anything to announce yet,” said Donald DeSalvo, general partner of The Cafaro Northwest Partnership, owners of Vancouver Plaza.

DeSalvo said a year ago that he was talking with Wal-Mart and other retailers in an effort to bring a fresh lineup of tenants to the 21-year-old complex. The half-empty development lost its west-end anchor store, WinCo Foods, in 2008 when the Boise, Idaho-based grocery chain built a stand-alone location less than one mile away.

No permits awarded

Wal-Mart has not been awarded permits to build at either site, but the company’s developer, PacLand, has applied to demolish the former Fred Meyer and build a 42,000-square-foot grocery store at Fourth Plain and Grand, which would be about half the size of the former Fred Meyer.

In addition to its plans for Clark County, Wal-Mart has requested a permit to start work on an $11.8 million store in Portland’s Hayden Meadows area, just a short distance south of the Interstate 5 Bridge. Wal-Mart spokeswoman Wall said no construction start date has been scheduled for the full-service, Hayden Meadows store.

Wal-Mart Stores Inc., branded as Walmart since 2008, is the world’s largest retailer with 8,500 stores in 15 countries. The company’s growth abroad in the first three months of 2012 helped the company post a 3.8 percent gain in the first quarter, making up for declines in the U.S., where store sales dropped 1.1 percent, the eighth decline in a row. Analysts blamed the decline on economic uncertainty, as struggling customers buy more generic items instead of the more costly name-brand counterparts.