By Bret Brewer
I attended Zionsville’s meeting with Walmart representatives on Nov. 12.
There, a resident warned that Zionsville’s downtown will become vacant. Walmart representatives stated this would not occur and, in fact, they are partnering with Akard True Value to help ensure this. Walmart representatives stated, “$20 million a year is spent at Walmarts outside of our area, and that will come back to Boone County.” They stated that Marsh is its competitor and not downtown Zionsville. I believe Marsh will be the first business they break.
Walmart released a retail sector impact study on Nov. 13. It says, “The largest potential (employment) loss is among large- and medium-sized big box stores … It would seem that the largest effect of Walmart is on competing big-box format stores and continues for some time after a Walmart entrance.”
The Marsh located at 106th Street and Michigan Road will probably close in less than three years. I’ve seen vacant K-marts and Sears properties with broken windows and weeds in front of very nice neighborhoods. These are very similar setups to the Marsh in front of the Westons.
Walmart will bring in lower prices – good in the short term. When lower prices force Marsh to close or sell, only a business that does not compete with Walmart can move in (or the property can remain vacant). This will lower the value of the Marsh property, and the Westons homes will decrease in value when crime rates increase (Walmart will bring higher crime rates to its lot and the surrounding lots and neighborhoods). It’s a domino effect, and it will keep moving north to impact Zionsville and southwest Carmel.
We have little time to convince the Zionsville Town Council to reject the variance on Nov. 27 (Walmart wants permission for a store 25,000 square feet larger than is allowed). We have little time to convince the town council to vote against Walmart on Dec. 18. People act like Walmart has already won – it has not.
I am not ready for the negative impacts that will result from a new Walmart. Do your research, but do it quickly and let the town council and others know what you see.