LITTLE FALLS -- A Wal-Mart Super Center now may be making its way into Little Falls.
Wal-Mart Stores Inc. has a purchase agreement for 28 acres in Little Falls off Highway 10 near the Highway 27 exit north of the Country Inn and Suites.
The Little Falls City Council Monday agreed to annex the land into the city and set a public hearing for 7:30 p.m. Nov. 15 to consider rezoning the property from agricultural to commercial.
The superstore would be 203,816 square feet and would include groceries, a liquor store, an auto center, a gas station and a pharmacy with a drive-up window.
Little Falls City Administrator Richard Carlson said if the zoning is approved by the city council and the planning and zoning commission and if Wal-Mart meets all the conditional use requirements, the super center could open by 2007. Carlson said this superstore would replace the existing Wal-Mart. He said Wal-Mart leases the existing building and the term on the lease is expected to expire soon.
Brainerd Dispatch/Steve Kohls
Patricia Thesing talked Tuesday from the doorway of her home on the east side of Little Falls. Thesing and her husband were among the landowners who sold property for a proposed Wal-Mart Super Center in Little Falls.
An Environmental Impact Statement is being done on the property by Bonestroo Rosene Anderlik and Associates of St. Paul. Carlson said the developers have a proposed site plan and a stormwater drainage plan for the site. However, these plans could change depending on the water and sewer lines and other CUP requirements.
Little Falls Mayor Brian Mackinac said in a telephone interview Tuesday that he has heard comments both for and against the supercenter coming to the city.
"Some people don't want us to bend over backward for Wal-Mart," said Mackinac. "Some say it could disrupt the downtown area. Nobody is too excited about it yet.
"We'll have to see how it plays out. Will it bring more people to town? We don't know. It's hard to speculate when it is not here yet."
Carlson said, "I've seen as many people for it as against it. There will be some controversy."
Greg Zylka, manager at Coborn's Superstore in Little Falls, said a Wal-Mart Super Center would have an impact on business. He said other Coborn's stores competing with a super center have been affected.
"We'll just have to work harder, continue to improve customer service and do the best we can," said Zylka. "My main concern is that the city council does its research and looks at the long-term effects."
With a super center opening in Baxter soon, Carlson said he was somewhat surprised that another store would open in close proximity. However, he said a market study was done by Wal-Mart Stores and it showed that Little Falls could see a lot of customers who live east or west of the city, instead of north and south.
Wal-Mart Stores is purchasing land from Neil and Patricia Thesing of Little Falls. Patricia Thesing said Tuesday at her home that Darcy Winter, a developer with D.E. Winter and Associates of Minneapolis representing Wal-Mart, approached the Thesing family about selling the land. The Thesings will retain their home and some land.
Thesing said Wal-Mart is a good company and it will bring about 200 jobs to the community. She said her family is too busy now and they do not farm anymore so she saw no issue with selling the property.
She said her family will retain their privacy even though the superstore will be 400 feet away.
A Wal-Mart spokesman could not be reached for comment.
JENNIFER STOCKINGER can be reached at email@example.com or 855-5851.
Brainerd Dispatch ©2013. All Rights Reserved.