CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Walmart looks to add a fourth store in Kanawha County, but their first choice as a location is a non-starter with the Kanawha County Commission.
The Arkansas-based retailer already has stores in Cross Lanes, Southridge, and Quincy and is considering a fourth site which would serve customers in northern Kanawha County. The county planning commission was recently approached with a $2 million offer for property within the boundaries of Coonskin Park to build a 150,000 square foot store. The company said it would invest another $10-$15 million and create 300 jobs with the store.
“That is not going to happen, not on my watch,” Kanawha County Commission President Kent Carper said Wednesday. “The people here don’t want that. I can’t imagine people of Kanawha County would support that idea.”
Carper said the company basically wants to build and use the property which is now the Coonskin golf course. He said not only would it wreck the landscape of the park, but could also jeopardize the future of the West Virginia Air Guard’s 130th Airlift Wing. A deal is already in the works to build a bridge over the Elk River and move the present park entrance in an effort to meet federal recommendations for securing the air base.
“This would delay building the bridge across the river,” said Carper. “Yes, Walmart might even agree to pay for the bridge, but it would take years to put this through.”
Carper said he and fellow commissioners are encouraged anytime a developer with private money shows and interest in locating a retail establishment in the county, but said this isn’t the right fit. The county will be working with Walmart to find other potentially suitable locations for another super store. Carper said northern Kanawha County had several locations which would meet the infrastructure needs for the store.
“We hope this doesn’t dissuade them from this area because of our stance on this,” Carper said. “But the people of this county don’t want their park turned into a shopping mall.”