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ANCTALK and Wal-Mart and Northcross

Saved for posterity since Yahoo is flaking out; possibly of some marginal interest here. This is in response to a post by Susan Moffat, fighting against Wal-Mart at Northcross Mall. The point answered by #1 was a study that correlated Wal-Marts with poverty at the county level.

my post:

I hate Wal-Mart too, especially after having to shop at one this weekend up here in Michigan (absence had made the heart grow slightly less contemptuous, I guess), but get real.

1. The studies you quote could just as easily have shown that Wal-Mart is attracted to poverty-stricken rural areas. IE, they didn't control for the pre-existing conditions.

2. I agree that Costco is a million times better than Wal-Mart, but I bet Allandale and the ANC would fight Costco too. If not, let's see them put their money where their mouth is and draft a letter asking Costco to please move in to this location.

3. If somebody better is not an option, Wal-Mart is certainly an improvement over what's there now. The mall is just pathetic - and only getting worse. How about for once hitching your wagon to the market instead of fighting against it and calling Wal-Mart's bluff - offer to at least abstain if the physical building layout is more urban and pedestrian-supportive than what exists there today, for instance.

This entry was posted in the following categories: When Neighborhoods Go Bad

Comments

Yes, re. people who try to draw a conclusion of what effects an urban walmart in a larger urban shopping area has, based on the effects of walmarts in rural one-marketplace counties: they fail basic economic analysis.
Of course, when people insinuate that walmart will bring crime in a setting like this all they are really trying to do is use the usual racist codewords: This store will bring "crime" because it will bring "them."

You're creating a false dilemma between the status quo and a monolithic big-box discounter. Really, is there no other possible use for that chunk of property? Would a discounter be the highest use, and the one that best serves the interest of the surrounding neighborhoods?

I wouldn't mind having a more centrally located Costco, although realistically speaking, every Costco trip for me is a car trip anyhow, and Northcross is far enough away that I'd rarely be inclined to bike there.

If something (anything) is to be done with Northcross, aren't we doing ourselves a disservice if we don't hope for something a little more imaginative? And why is Northcross such a retail mortuary anyhow? It's been that way as long as I can remember.

Adam, see the last sentence of M1EK's #3 point.

Adam,

Operating within the constraints of the present and foreseeable future in which Allandale doesn't become any denser or any more walkable, there's a limited number of other retailers who would be willing to take over this relatively poor-visibility spot. I doubt you could get Costco to even go there, for instance; that was largely just an effort to call their bluff.

The surrounding neighborhoods won't get better retail until they have more people living there. They've already reached the limbo zone where things get suboptimal at the boundary between low-density sprawl and high-density urban development - nobody walks or will walk to Northcross, but the real estate is largely too expensive for strip malls as usual, I would guess.

The Northcross area is a very fine neighborhood for carfree living in Austin.

While the Northcross Mall itself is seriously underutilized, the neighborhood has a reasonably good grocery store (Sun Harvest), pharmacy, banks, professional offices, inexpensive restaurants, post office, pack & mail office, hobby supply shops, movie house (Alamo Drafthouse), public library, etc.

It's right on Burnet Road, which I find as a pedestrian to be one of the more interesting places in Austin to walk. There are lots of small specialty shops that you hardly notice from a car, and even a farmers' market (underutilized as it is).

Northcross is convenient to a Capital Metro transit center. Direct bus routes to the Arboretum (#3), the University and downtown (#19, #5, #3), Target, HEB and Walmart (#325), another HEB and Highland Mall (#339), and the airport (#350).

Anderson Lane itself is bike unfriendly but the side streets are quiet and there are plenty of useable shortcuts. The Northcross neighborhood is served by Shoal Creek which for all its flaws remains an excellent bikeway. Quiet side streets provide bike access to the north, east and south. About a mile to the east, Woodrow is one of the best bikeways in town. Crossing Mo-Pac to the west is a little harder on a bike, but there is a very nice pedestrian bridge at Far West that connects with a very fine retail area. Also there is a forgotten bike/pedestrian underpass under the Union Pacific track a few blocks north of Steck that provides a useful shortcut out of the Northcross neighborhood to the west.

Northcross isn't talked about very much, but I've found it to be one of the potentially great urban neighborhoods in Austin.