Saturday, January 3, 2004

Super Wal-Mart almost a 'go'

By Cindy Schroeder
The Cincinnati Enquirer

FORT WRIGHT - Years have passed since a plan for a Wal-Mart supercenter here surfaced.

Questions arose about traffic, congestion and the store itself. But now, those who live and shop in the area can expect action.

More than three years after it was first proposed, construction of Greater Cincinnati's third Wal-Mart supercenter should be under way by spring at a prominent intersection here.

The closest Wal-Mart supercenters are in Aurora, Ind., and Dry Ridge. Similar stores are under consideration in Milford and Deerfield Township.

Site preparation has also already begun to double the size of the current Wal-Mart store at the Village Green Shopping Center in Alexandria.

"The bids for (the Fort Wright Wal-Mart) are due back the first week of January," said John Bisio, community affairs manager for the Midwest region of Wal-Mart. "That means we'll probably try to begin construction sometime this spring, weather permitting."

Construction could wrap up late August. If so, the store could open in September, Bisio said.

Supercenters carry a wider selection of merchandise than a regular Wal-Mart, including groceries and a pharmacy. They also offer services such as banks, nail and hair salons, photo centers and auto maintenance.

As part of a court settlement, Fort Wright officials required that the developer make $2.6 million in road improvements at no cost to the city. Extra turn lanes were added to Highland Pike, Orphanage Road and Ky. 17. Traffic lights also are being installed at each end of the development's access road.

"You would never want to build a store that would be creating issues in terms of traffic, storm water runoff, lights and noise because it runs counter to the premise that you're a good neighbor," Bisio said.

While some supercenters replace a local Wal-Mart discount store, the Fort Wright location won't, Bisio said.

"This is a brand new store," he said. "It'll be adding jobs and expanding consumer choices."


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