POV | The West End Walmart - Let's Do It Right (6/5/14)
Now that Walmart has announced plans to build a new supercenter at 18th and Broadway, we need to shift from the question of "Will they come?" to "How do they plan to do it?"
While the company hasn't yet settled on a final design, it seems they intend to build a traditional "big box" design, set far back from the street and separated from any public sidewalk by nearly 700 parking spaces. And if that happens, it'll be a shame. Louisville's best existing example of the folly of such a decision can be found right in the heart of the Highlands, where the Mid-City Mall was constructed 50 years ago with acres of parking separating it from Bardstown Road. While that mall remains a vital part of Highlands commerce, few would deny that it's completely out of character with the surrounding retail corridor and creates a jarring gap in an otherwise pleasant and integrated streetscape.
It, more than any other factor, is the reason the city has adopted policies to prevent such a thing from ever happening again in the Highlands. So why should the West End have to settle for anything less?
Walmart has successfully built urban-scaled stores that abut the sidewalk and include underground or rear parking in cities like Washington and Knoxville, so we know it can be done. But it probably won't without strong urging from our city officials.