Tuesday, March 06, 2007

What, No Free Sam's Choice Soda?

I briefly attended the Northcross Wal-Mart open house last night at Norris Conference Center.

It was a mad spectacle of Wal-Mart/Lincoln Property suits bumping elbows with Responsible Growth for Northcross red shirts and TV cameras. I tried to listen in on conversations but I wasn’t there long enough to ask any questions myself. There were several police officers on hand to keep order and there was apparently one guy who threatened to punch someone out. I did not have the fortune to witness this.

As for Wal-Mart, the proposed design sort of looks like the BookPeople/REI building at 6th and Lamar done on the cheap. It seeks to incorporate the limestone and metal facade that has become standard for Austin, but whether this building would actually be attractive would depend on quality of materials (hopefully said materials won't be purchased at Wal-Mart). At any rate, it wouldn’t look like other Wal-Mart Supercenters, which is a good thing.

Unfortunately, the parking garage would be the center’s main interface with Anderson Lane. It’s not as ugly as a parking garage could be, but I’d rather see the storefront be the street interface. Right now, plans are to top the main garage entrance with a giant Wal-Mart logo. I think “Einkaufen Macht Frei” might be more apropos.

Neighborhood pressure will continue to be critical in ensuring the best possible redevelopment of Northcross. However, it must be said that RG4N’s insistence on not having a sizable anchor tenant at Northcross does not address the fact that lack of tenable anchor stores is partially why the current incarnation of Northcross failed. Wal-Mart Supercenter or not, Northcross will need an anchor to survive.

No comments: