DALLAS — Sam's Club wants to be a part of the new East Village development at North Central expressway and Haskell Avenue. But it won't happen without a fight.
Opponents say their efforts have now delayed the city's decision on the proposed warehouse superstore, and that, in turn, has motivated them to get their message out — even on the Memorial Day holiday.
Cityplace neighborhood resident Anthony Johnson said he knew change was coming to the 17-acre plot of land, but he didn't know it would come in the form of a big box store.
"It’s a bait-and-switch, and it definitely was a shock for the vast majority of the residents," he said.
So Johnson and others spent the holiday working to get the word out at nearby Klyde Warren Park.
Developer Trammel Crow is behind the East Village commercial development. The property was purchased nearly a year ago, but the plans for a big box store were just unvailed this week.
The developer was not avaliable for comment last week, or over the holiday weekend.
Neighbors said they have worked for decades to make the area walkable, following in the footsteps of West Village, across the highway. They say if construction moves forward, it would be a major step backwards — isolating their neighborhood, and bringing a traffic nightmare to their backyard.
"There is no problem with Sam’s Club, especially if there is a bunch of area for it," Johnson said. "Just really right there, that is prime real estate, and you’re not going to be carrying big bulk items back to your house."
Sam's Club currently has four locations within an 10-mile radius of the proposed site.
The plans to add a fifth prompted an online petition with more than 1,800 signatures urging the City Council to put the brakes on the project.
Last Thursday, the Plan Commission agreed to postpone discussion until its July Meeting.
But the parent company of Sam's Club — Walmart — remains confident that a new store will soon appear along Central Expressway.
"Our Texas members have been loyal and enthusiastic supporters of the Sam’s Club brand," said Walmart spokeswoman Anne Hatfield in a written statement. "We look forward to expanding the Dallas market’s access to savings and member benefits."
Neighbors like Johnson say the change that appears to be coming is worlds away from the vison that was pitched to them.
City Council District 2 representative Adam Medrano he says he supports the protesters' efforts, but did not offer any additional comments about the issue.