Update: From the July 13 WaPo: As Wal-Mart threatens to walk, what's next for a dying shopping center? ("The Skyland Shopping Center in Southeast Washington is amost dead. Shops are shuttered and windows broken." Gee, we wonder why?). See also Gideon Kanner's thoughts on the story at "Another Kelo Case in the Marking?"
You remember the Skyland redevelopment project in Washington, D.C., don't you? That's the one we've covered before, which has resulted in boocoo court decisions, most of them unfavorable to the small property owners whose businesses were considered "blighting factors" to the surrounding area, and thus stood in the way of a redevelopment project coveted by the city fathers and mothers. See DeSilva v. District of Columbia, No. 10-CV-1069 (Feb. 24, 2011); Rumber v. District of Columbia, 487 F.3d 941 (D.C. Cir. 2007); Franco v. National Capital Revitalization Comm'n, 930 A.2d 160 (D.C. 2007); Franco v. District of Columbia, 3 A.3d 300 (D.C. 2010); Rumber v. District of Columbia, No. 09-7035 (D.C. Cir. Feb. 26, 2010) (per curiam); and Oh v. National Capital Revitalization Corp., 7 A.3d 997 (D.C. 2010).
Here's the latest twist. As reported by the Washington Post, the mega-retailer Wal-Mart was all set to hit the D.C. market hard -- with no less than six planned new stores in "underserved" areas -- when the City Council decided W-M paid its workers too little, and considered adopting a "living wage" ordinance. In response, W-M threated to cancel most or all of its plans.
This is where it got predictable: one of the new shopping centers targeted for withdrawal? You didn't have to read the story to know it is Skyland.
Despite the ultimatum, the city council predicted that "they will come" anyway, and that Wal-Mart needs the D.C. market more than the D.C. market needs Wal-Mart. The council called W-M's bluff and adopted the ordinance. If the mayor (who lives near Skyland) doesn't veto the ordinance and it turns out that Wal-Mart really doesn't need D.C., apparently the entire Skyland project may end up going the way of the Pfizer campus in New London:
But colleague Yvette M. Alexander (D-Ward 7), who represents an area slated for two stores and opposes the bill, said she was "angry and upset" about the message, delivered by Keith Morris, Wal-Mart’s director of public affairs and government relations. "That means back to the drawing board for Ward 7 unless there’s a vote in opposition," she said. "This is going to just about ruin two major development plans in Ward 7."It was a sentiment echoed by her constituents. Karen Williams, president of the Hillcrest Community Civic Association, said she was "very disappointed" to hear Wal-Mart could pull out of the Skyland site.
"We have been working on making this project a reality for over 23 years," she said. "We finally felt that we were so close to having it built. . . . Even though there are people who are not exactly Wal-Mart fans, we all want the project to move forward."
And what of those property and business owners forced out by eminent domain in this game of retail politics? Not a mention in the Post, by the Council, or the Mayor.
Thanks to colleague Elaine Mittleman, who has doggedly represented many of the property owners in this battle, for the heads-up.