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It's now or never for Walmart

September 16, 2011

After weeks of local fretting — or anticipation, depending on which side of the fence you’re on — Walmart has confirmed that it plans to move into the former Great Indoors site adjacent to the Empire Center.

When the move will occur, and in what form the store will take, remains to be seen; company representatives say plans are still preliminary. It’s in this stage of the game that Burbank residents should get involved.

With the question of whether a Walmart is or isn’t a good fit for Burbank apparently moot, the game now turns to one of design.

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Company reps have pledged to take public input into consideration when drafting plans for the new store. That’s a promise to which Walmart should be held accountable, but it’s only as good as the amount of engagement it elicits.

Don’t want a 24-hour Walmart? Prefer grocery options? These are all elements of a Walmart that could profoundly affect how a new store impacts the city for years to come.

Left to its own devices, Walmart, like any corporation, will design a store for maximum revenue generation. That means the store will need to cater to more than just what Burbank residents want.

A Burbank Walmart would fill a giant void for the chain between its stores in Panorama City and Rosemead or southwest L.A. — a huge, demographically diverse area. So if local residents want some measure of control in which population is most served, well, it’s now or never.

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