Walmart to open in NE San Antonio

Residents hoping new store brings rede­velopment

SAN ANTONIO - Walmart has announced plans to open four stores in the San Antonio area, including in Helotes, in 2013, but a fifth store has also quietly been in the works.

The company confirmed Wednesday that a 150,000-square-foot super center should open next fall at Thousand Oaks and Nacogdoches.

The company purchased 17 acres at the site, which includes a strip center which will be torn down except for a section occupied by Gold's Gym and a smaller strip facing Thousand Oaks.

The city's zoning commission approved a request to rezone the area from multi-family housing to commercial in January.

Residents in the area have welcomed the news.

"We want to revitalize this neighborhood, which it really needs," said Gerhard Rokicki, the manager of the nearby Northern Hills Country Village condominium complex, where he's lived since 1984.

Rokicki said the land developer opened up conversation with him and the Northern Hills Homeowners Association about a year ago. He said the site has deteriorated through the years.

"It became a hangout for homeless," Rokicki said. "The field was constantly overgrown with weeds and it became a dumping ground at times."

"The building is falling apart behind us here," said Northern Hills HOA president Mike Gallagher, pointing to the current structure which was covered by graffiti on the back wall. "It really needs a lot of help and this will absolutely improve the entire looks of the place."

Gallagher and Rokicki helped lead several meetings with homeowners and condo residents about Walmart's plans and said most supported the decision.

"Some of them were concerned but we all got tired of looking at this shopping center. They way it's going down, it's not helping our neighborhood," said Rokicki, adding that the developer and residents agreed to certain covenants restricting the development and types of businesses that can open on the property.

Unlike sites near Hardberger Park and Helotes, Walmart met little opposition to open up at this location.

"One of the nice things that we've seen is when a big store like Walmart comes in then the stores that are around it want to improve," said Gallagher. "For example, we have an HEB across the street. They'll see that Walmart is selling food and they'll want to improve their facility."

"We have very good assurances from the land developer that they're going to be good neighbors," added Rokicki.

A Walmart spokesman said the site should open next fall and expects to create 300 new jobs in addition to the 1,200 jobs at the four other locations opening in 2013.

For a list of recent stories Charles Gonzalez has done, click here.


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