Based on a recent meeting between developers and a contingent of residents, the furor raised by the plans does not appear to be dying down.
The July 13 sit-down involved representatives from Selig Enterprises, the development firm handling the project, and multiple grassroots organizations advocating local residents’ interests.
Robert Blondeau of Good Growth DeKalb, one of the grassroots activist outfits represented, called the meeting “contentious.”
Blondeau’s group presented Selig with a petition bearing 3,000-plus names and cited data from its door-to-door canvassing campaign — 75 percent of respondents disapprove of the retail giant’s plans, for example — while also noting the hundreds of “Stop Walmart” signs currently seen around the impacted neighborhoods, Blondeau said.
The purported evidence of resistance apparently did not sway the other side, though.
Scott Selig, company vice president of Acquisitions and Development, sent a letter dated July 25 to the Medlock Area Neighborhood Association — now posted on the latter’s website — thanking the “individuals from the surrounding neighborhoods who are collaborating with us” on the project.
“Their commitment and countless hours of review work will not only ensure that the redevelopment’s design reflects the area’s unique personality but also that the negotiated conditions will be completed as agreed upon at the beginning of this process, Selig said in a statement.
“This group of individuals has constantly challenged us to think outside the box and push harder on the architectural details that have greatly improved the look and feel of this project … we have always operated under a policy of inclusion of surrounding neighborhoods from the start …”
The planned Walmart venture calls for a 150,000-square foot store to be housed at Suburban Plaza.
“Selig has their position — there will be a Walmart,” said Blondeau. “And we have our position … we will continue to fight with whatever legal means we can find. Selig is largely concerned with financial considerations, not the community … It’s interested in creating just another strip mall that does not reflect the character of Decatur’s popular and successful development model.”
Efforts to get comments from Selig Enterprises were unsuccessful by press time.