The fates of two intown Walmart locations have been determined after both were damaged and closed last month by suspected arson fires.

Walmart has decided to reopen its Vine City Supercenter location on Martin Luther King Jr. Drive—a vital resource of fresh food for Westside communities since it opened in the Historic Westside Village development a decade ago—but in a revised Walmart Neighborhood Market format.

The retail behemoth’s Neighborhood Market concepts are typically much smaller than Supercenters and operate more like traditional grocery stores, with fewer products and reduced footprints meant to keep costs down.  

Meanwhile, about six miles north, the Walmart Supercenter on Howell Mill Road will permanently close, the company announced this week.

That ends Walmart’s run of more than 15 years at The District at Howell Mill, a shopping center developed by Selig Enterprises that debuted in 2006.

The distance between the two intown Walmart locations in question.

Walmart officials said, following the separate fires within a few days of each other in December, the company conducted “a thorough review of all factors” related to both stores and decided to tweak Vine City’s concept and shutter the one in Berkeley Park.

The latter store could not be modified in the way Vine City’s location can, per Walmart.

“Unfortunately, a variety of economic headwinds existed at both stores before they were closed due to arson,” reads Walmart’s statement.

Residents and government officials on Atlanta’s Westside feared that permanently losing the Walmart would restrict fresh food access and job opportunities. As WSB relayed, many residents in the area had been forced to drive for miles for shopping needs prior to Walmart’s Vine City debut in 2013.   

Atlanta Mayor Andre Dickens issued a statement today saying his team worked directly with Walmart to ensure the Vine City location would return. “The [nearby] intersection of Martin Luther King Jr. Drive and Joseph E. Lowery Boulevard is a nexus of multiple NW and SW Atlanta communities,” the mayor’s statement reads, “with seniors, children, students, and thousands of individuals and households who already lack accessible options for fresh, affordable food.”

As for the Howell Mill Road location, the mayor vowed “the city will continue our work with Walmart and community stakeholders on the appropriate use of [that] store site and job placement for the affected employees.”

In his own statement, District 3 Atlanta City Councilman Byron Amos said a timeline for the Walmart remake and reopening in Vine City has not been determined.

“For weeks, the community has stood together in lockstep with a focus on making the entire MLK corridor more safe and accessible,” said Amos. “With this [Walmart] confirmation, we can continue the years of dedication and hard work to make that goal a reality.”  


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Vine City news, discussion (Urbanize Atlanta)