Anton Melchionda: Myths, facts, of Walmart plan
BOSTON >> After announcing our proposal to relocate the existing Walmart to a supercenter at the "teens parcel" of the William Stanley Business Park (WSBP), we would like to ask residents to study the facts and continue to be involved in what will be a long, spirited process.
Since announcing, Waterstone has seen an outpouring of support from residents during meetings, on petition signatures, on Facebook and in other platforms and forums. We will continue vigorous public outreach to educate citizens on the facts, and ask residents to participate in the process.
If you missed our community open house, some common myths and associated facts that were addressed include:
Myth. For the Walmart parcel and the WSBP, only industrial and high tech should be there.
Fact: Millions of square feet are available in Berkshire County of industrial buildings that can be or have recently sold for, as low as $3.50 per square foot. The Walmart will cost $169 per square foot, due to the $12 million cost just to prepare the land and roads for a building. Few companies would pay what Waterstone will spend to build this Walmart, and despite these costs,
Walmart is in for the long haul and prefers this site in Pittsfield. Not a dime of the $12 million to prepare the land will be taxpayer money. The developer will pay for this project.
Myth. Mixed use doesn't work for the WSBP.
Fact. Since Waterstone will spend $12 million on a new storm water system, traffic and environmental remediation, and general site preparation, the remaining 36 acres of the WSBP to be developed without future developers, whoever they may be, having to pay for all of these costs.
Waterstone sees Walmart as a catalyst for growth on all the other parcels with mixed use, including industrial, life sciences and medical office. Rarely do you see a Walmart without other commerce nearby. This will be no different.
Myth. Walmart will take away jobs from Pittsfield and force downtown businesses to close.
Fact. Walmart has been part of Pittsfield for 22 years. It is not a new entity to the city. It will simply be hiring 85 to 100 new employees at the new store. The Walmart would be one mile from downtown.
We ask residents to look at just a few communities that have a Walmart between a half mile and approximately two miles from their downtown. Some cities include:
* Wallingford, CT. Population 45,000. A supercenter 1.6 miles from a flourishing downtown.
* Milford, CT. Population 52,000. A supercenter 2 miles from a flourishing downtown and green.
* Saratoga Springs, N.Y. Population 28,000. A supercenter 2.2 miles from a flourishing downtown.
* Guilford, CT. Population 23,000. A Walmart (not a supercenter) 0.3 miles from a flourishing and historic green, lined with shops and stores.
* Geneseo, N.Y. Population 11,000. A Walmart supercenter 1.4 miles from a flourishing downtown.
* Glens Falls, N.Y. Population of Glens Falls and Queensbury 41,000. Two Walmart supercenters within 1.5 and 2 miles from a flourishing, historic downtown.
* Claremont, N.H. Population 14,000. A Walmart supercenter is 0.5 miles from an historic downtown that is revitalized in recent years.
*Plymouth, MA. Population 58,000. A Walmart supercenter 2.5 miles from an historic downtown.
* North Adams, MA. Population 14,000. A Walmart supercenter 2.3 miles from a vibrant downtown.
Myth. Walmart doesn't pay a high enough wage.
Fact. Walmart pays a typical retail wage as any other Pittsfield retailer, and offers full- and part-time benefits to its employees. The majority of jobs will be full-time, 34 hours a week or more.
The Massachusetts average hourly wage of current, full-time Walmart associates is $14.67 hour. And Walmart, despite what you may read, offers full- and part-time benefits to its employees.
Myth. Pittsfield doesn't need a supercenter. There is one in North Adams.
Fact. This new Walmart supercenter is expected to draw new customers from southern Berkshire County especially, bringing thousands more people into the city. This store will co-exist with North Adams, and keep more shopping dollars in Pittsfield for its 44,000 residents.
Myth: Waterstone would not pay much in taxes.
Fact: Waterstone is estimating taxes paid to the city of Pittsfield of between $300,000 and $500,000 per year.
Myth: The Walmart site is prime industrial land because of its direct rail access.
Fact: The site never did and does not now have direct rail access. It simply abuts the tracts.
In conclusion, we ask all residents again to consider some key benefits Waterstone will provide with this project:
* Twelve million dollars in infrastructure before a wall can even go up.
* Hundreds of thousands of dollars of tax revenue.
* Nearly 100 new jobs, majority full-time.
* Catalyst for growth for the entire WSBP.
Anton Melchionda is a principal at Waterstone Development.
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