BENTONVILLE -- Wal-Mart Stores Inc. may not get a store in New York City or neighboring Bella Vista, but a new Neighborhood Market and retail center is a slam dunk in its home stomping grounds of downtown Bentonville.
Speculation Wal-Mart and the Walton family was planning to build on the site of the Midtown Shopping Center on the northwest corner of the Bentonville square has circulated for more than a year when long-term leases of tenants like Harps Foods Stores were not renewed. Members of the Walton family have owned the Midtown Shopping Center property for several years.
Today, (Oct.12) the City of Bentonville, Wal-Mart Stores Inc. and the Midtown Shopping Center formally announced plans to redevelop the retail center into a new shopping and business center. The new Midtown Center will be anchored by a 31,000 square foot Walmart Neighborhood Market, keeping the traditional grocery store with a pharmacy to service the downtown community.
Harps has a new grocery center under construction a few blocks away on North Walton Boulevard.
The new Midtown Center will also have additional retail space to better serve the downtown needs and offer a variety of shopping options for the Bentonville Square, according to the release.
The retail space will be located along N.W. Second Street to continue to grow the downtown shopping and entertainment experience. Offices will be located on the second and third floors with a three-level parking garage integrated into the project. The parking deck will help the everyday parking needs of downtown and will greatly improve the parking for evenings and weekend events, hosted on the Bentonville Square.
“The revitalization of the Midtown Shopping Center is a critical step to keep the City of Bentonville and its signature downtown square on a path of continued prosperity. The New Midtown Center is a perfect fit for our community and embodies the values and history of our city, while adding shopping, office space and additional parking to accommodate Bentonville’s increasingly popular downtown events,” noted Bentonville Mayor Bob McCaslin.
Construction is planned to begin by June 2013, according to the release.
Wal-Mart spokesman Daniel Morales said the proposed Neighborhood Market with pharmacy would likely open in the spring of 2015.
Daniel Hintz, CEO of Downtown Bentonville Inc., said the new development is yet again a commitment of private investment in the area, which has been robust from large scale projects like the 21C Hotel to individual shop owners.
“We are starting to see the private dollars flow in but it all started back in 2005 with the City of Bentonville’s commitment to invest in infrastructure. That laid the groundwork for the new development happening now and in the years to come.” Hintz said.
The full scale of the new Midtown Center has not been made public, but Hintz says the design will reflect the spirit and overall vibe of the downtown area.
“I think it’s important to note, Harps is also investing in Bentonville in their new facility on N. Walton Boulevard and others in deals at Rainbow Curve and along South Walton Boulevard. Who knows what will happen along I Street when that construction is complete.” Hintz said.
Tom Reed, appraiser and real estate professional with Streetsmart Data says Bentonville has done a great job with its downtown revitalization efforts in recent years.
"Bentonville has become a model for others to follow," he said. "It makes perfect sense to refurb an older retail center especially when foot traffic is growing in the immediate area."