Business

After long delay, Walmart is coming to Marysville

MARYSVILLE — After opening stores in Tulalip and Arlington, Walmart is on track to open a store in Marysville.

Gloria Hirashima, chief administrative officer for the city of Marysville, noted that the city had approved Walmart's plans in 2006, after public hearings that ran from 2005 through 2006, and added that the Snohomish County Superior Court upheld that decision in 2006, over the protests of a citizens' group.

"Walmart purchased that land when it got approved," Hirashima said. "I'm sure the economy altered their plans, as it has with all of us, but we always expected they would be coming here eventually. The fact that there was a delay in the building of this store has to do with their company, not our city. We don't control when they want to invest."

Kelly Wright, who's challenging incumbent Jon Nehring in this year's race for mayor of Marysville, cried foul over the resurgence of formerly dormant plans to build a Walmart store at the intersection of State Route 528 and Highway 9.

"This project was dead for over half a decade, then suddenly went full steam ahead," Wright said. "People were lulled into a false sense of security, and that's strictly a function of the city not communicating effectively."

Wright criticized what he saw as inadequate transparency in the process, and argued that citizens should have been kept informed about each new step in this development. Even allowing for the decisions that have already been made to allow Walmart to move in, he still took issue with the city's reaction.

"The mayor has some say," Wright said. "I'm not sure sitting on your hands and claiming they're tied is effective leadership. People are always concerned when a major development moves in, and cities usually respond accordingly."

Hirashima suggested that Walmart pulling a building permit in August might have led some people to assume that the city had recently taken action on this matter as well. Wright asserted that the Marysville store's construction construction is finally proceeding due to the city's passage of an ordinance in April that exempts large retailers from paying traffic-impact fees.

"Gloria admitted Walmart is going to be eligible for a tax giveback," Wright said. "That's not the direction we should be going. We need to be encouraging smaller businesses."

Hirashima acknowledged that Target and Costco both qualified for the refund of 50 percent of their traffic-impact fee, as businesses that have generated $200,000 each in sales tax revenues over the course of their first three years of operation. At the same time, she explained that the ordinance did not affect Walmart's responsibility to pay $769,600 to the city and $135,500 to Snohomish County in traffic-impact fees, although the retailer could still apply for the refund after being open for three years.

"They're also required to pay approximately $3.5 million in road improvement fees for State Route 528 and Highway 9, as well as State Route 528's intersections with 83rd and 87th avenues," Hirashima said. "Since this will fund projects that the city and state would need to implement regardless, it's a relief that we can go forward on those without relying on other resources."

The improvements funded by Walmart are set to include frontage, signaling and road-widening on State Route 528 and at its intersections with Highway 9 and 83rd and 87th avenues NE.

Delia Garcia, media director for Walmart West, anticipated that construction would begin on the store before the end of this year, with new store construction for Walmart typically taking between 10-12 months.

"When finished, the 147,000-square-foot store will bring approximately 300 new jobs, savings for local shoppers and an increase in tax revenue to support the area's economy," Garcia said.

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