Residents Should Clean Up Before Protesting Walmart

A Medlock Park resident says people protesting Walmart should look around at their community and pick up a rake before demanding higher-standard alternatives to the ubiquitous international retailer.

North Druid Hills-Briarcliff Patch welcomes letters from readers. Send them to jonathan.cribbs@patch.com.

While I am not a fan of Walmart, this area desperately needs tax revenue and revitalization. Suburban Plaza is dying, and this area needs to jump-start with a major retailer. I would love to see a mixed use development with unique stores there, but the demographics don't support it. If the support were there, it would be going there as opposed to Clifton Road across from the Centers for Disease Control. Residents opposing the development need to get over it because, truthfully, the bad element they fear is already milling about Suburban Plaza. I'm sorry to say this, but this neighborhood isn't affluent enough to support this area on property tax alone. They can take their pick at this point: Walmart or decreasing home values with increased taxes. If some of these people want to take pride in the area, they should start with cleaning up the curb appeal of their own homes. This neighborhood desperately needs some of that!

The empty car lots and Suburban Plaza are eyesores killing this area. I would love a Trader Joe's, but this is the economic reality. Residents opposing Walmart need to drive by Clifton Road and look at the demographics of that area and realize that area supports that kind of development. Developers run serious numbers on an area before building and actually drive through neighborhoods. Costco would have been a great addition. But unhappy residents should drive over to Brookhaven, look at the neighborhood that Costco went into and grab a paintbrush and some hedge clippers and invest a little sweat equity in their own properties if they want those kinds of businesses. I take a lot of pride in my home and wish others would do the same. The people who have made downtown Decatur, Brookhaven, Oakhurst, Lake Claire and Virginia-Highland have made those neighborhoods desirable by investing in their own properties!

Jennifer Moore
Medlock Park

Victoria Webb January 31, 2012 at 01:55 AM
Walmart or decreasing home values? Not much of a choice. With a Walmart, we'll not only get decreased property values, but increased crime, reduced wages and benefits for workers. We’ll have the loss of most small businesses in the immediate area, and loss of leadership in the community. Hidden costs are greenhouse emissions from long distance shipping, and 3 times less local product moving in and out of the community. The claim that hundreds of jobs will be created? Hundreds more will be displaced. There was no traffic report, parking flow study or environmental impact review for this store. However, more progressive cities and counties build those into the same report that gets triggered for any big-box store. There's no ordinance in all of Georgia for stores like this. The UGA Land Use Division did a review in 2007, suggesting the state needs to have one. But where is that pressure going to come from? The developers? There hasn’t been an updated comprehensive plan for this area and whose fault is that? If no one pressures city or county officials for change, suburban sprawl development hurts all of us. Developers can only grab resources where there's apathy and no real vision for a neighborhood. You could have had a Costco or a Trader Joe's - and it's not too late to stop the Walmart - with enough community support. My advice is to shop Kroger instead, where they ALLOW unions and offer full benefits to their workers. Victoria Webb for Good Growth Dekalb
Sally January 31, 2012 at 01:36 PM
Amen Jennifer!! The area needs redevelopment. Badly!!! Where have all these people who are so energetic to stop WalMart while this center has been in decline. For years. If all this energy for stopping it had been put into making the area nice we wouldn't be here today. Good Growth Dekalb my foot. All these people are interested in is tearing down plans. They never have plans for redevelopment. Neighborhoods are like homes. Things have to be done to them occasionally to keep them updated and desirable. The WalMart development on Howell Mill Road looks pretty nice to me. If the "local businesses" could sustain this area it wouldn't be in the shape it's in now. Sad but true.
Staci January 31, 2012 at 04:00 PM
I feel like Ms. Moore is misplacing her anger. She sounds primarily upset that some of her neighbors aren't keeping their property as well as she'd like. Instead of blaming the people who don't want an Walmart in their community, seems like a more productive way to improve the area and address her complaints woud be to organize a weekend neighborhood spruce-up day. If there are people who are unable or unwilling to keep their homes up, maybe volunteers can pitch in to help. As for the group protesting Walmart, it's not only made up of people from the Medlock area, which I don't think many see as run down and having no curb appeal. The group is comprised of people from Glenwood Estates, the Great Lakes area, Decatur Heights, Oakhurst, downtown Decatur, Agnes Scott area, Emory area, the area across from Ace Hardware, and more. There are also people in the group who don't live in the neighborhood but who work, shop, play, study, etc. at Suburban Plaza and surrounding places, including the city of Decatur. Ms. Moore may also want to contact DeKalb County and ask about their plans for revitalizing the corridor where there are empty car lots and stores (Church/Scott/Lawrenceville Highway). I believe her energy and passion for the redevelopment of that area would be make her a welcome addition!
Jennifer C. January 31, 2012 at 05:52 PM
First, I think Good Growth DeKalb deserves equal time in a showcased opinion piece. I assume Jonathan Cribbs can facilitate that for the group. Second, I live in Medlock Park and while I cannot disagree that there are some houses that I'd like to see better maintained, I disagree with Ms. Moore's premise that that fact in any way undermines or contradicts the message of Good Growth DeKalb. As a resident who will be directly affected by the proposed Walmart, the final analysis is one of longterm, net effect on the surrounding neighborhoods and I foresee all negatives from such a development. I realize that Medlock Park is not an affluent neighborhood, and Selig knows that based on an income demography chart they did in late 2010. However, it is becoming more of an educated demographic every year, and with that I hold tight to a more aspirational vision of the neighborhood and its adjacent areas. Further, I disagree with Ms. Moore's fundamental assertion that only affluent neighborhoods will suppport a mixed-use development. Would a Nordstroms' or a Bloomies survive there? No, of course not. But mixed-use does not have to automatically connote upscale growth; it can mean smart, sustainable growth which is what Good Growth DeKalb advocates. Finally, I agree with Staci in that Ms. Moore seems to have a lot of passion about the development issues, and, since she too would like to see unique stores, it would be great if she could help us advocate for our best interests.
Jonathan Cribbs January 31, 2012 at 05:54 PM
I'd certainly run any response emailed to me at jonathan.cribbs@patch.com.
kirsten January 31, 2012 at 07:33 PM
Arguing about the curb appeal is little more than a red herring. Being upset about people not raking their leaves vs residents not wanting a big box store are two very different arguments, and it seems silly to cut down opponents to Walmart based on this. Yes, the area needs development and tax revenues. But big box stores like Walmart do not put more into the local economies compared with locally owned businesses. From "Thinking Outside the Box: A Report on Independent Merchants and the Local Economy - by Civic Economics, September 2009, "...16% of the money spent at a SuperTarget stays in the local economy. In contrast, the local retailers returned more than 32% of their revenue to the local economy." This money adds up folks! Furthermore, Walmart employees typically make below a living wage and many who are part-time have no health insurance through Walmart... Do we want to burden our local economy with employees who can barely afford rent, food, or health insurance? Aside from the economics, that intersection is already burdened with traffic. Has a traffic study been completed? How could this impact the area hospitals whose ambulances travel on Scott Blvd and North Decatur Rd every day? It's important for all of us to know the true ramifications of a big box store in our community before we just accept the first offer on the table.
Robert February 01, 2012 at 03:20 PM
The writer seems to be saying that the area does not deserve any better because it already is rundown. Walmart isn't great. The area isn't great. Therefore, the two belong together! It's an odd argument, especially for a resident. I live in the Medlock area and I take issue with the implication that the area is populated by bad neighbors. This is an affordable intown neighborhood and a great place to live. Nowhere is perfectly well kempt, but everyone deserves the chance to voice their opinions about the future of their neighborhood. Opposing Walmart is exactly the kind of investment that makes this area a desirable place to live. Some of the eyesores mentioned by the writer (i.e., empty car lots, etc.) are ones residents have no control over. I believe it’s Selig who owns many of these properties and so it is that company’s responsibility to maintain them, not the neighbors. The entrance of Walmart will not make the area more livable. Studies indicate just the opposite. Walmart is not a positive choice for a residential neighborhood: increased traffic, poor working conditions, increased reliance on tax dollars by workers not making a living wage & who don’t have health insurance, and possible net job loss in the area. We all deserves better than this no matter how our yards look. I will invest my sweat equity in opposing Walmart. Good Growth Dekalb has retained attorneys to begin the legal fight so we’re just getting started, folks!
Tom Doolittle February 02, 2012 at 02:00 PM
Athens fight song: http://www.bizjournals.com/atlanta/morning_call/2012/02/athens-supergroup-records-song-to.html?ana=e_atl_rdup
David D February 23, 2012 at 04:06 PM
Who do YOU think you are??? "It's important for all of us to know the true ramifications of a big box store in our community before we just accept the first offer on the table." Before "WE" just accept the first offer! YOU do NOT own that property. That's what this is really about. This community isn't run by a small group of folks who hate WalMart. This isn't a vote on how Selig invests ITS money. How pretentious and controlling this group is.
kirsten February 23, 2012 at 04:28 PM
I'm sorry to hear that you're so angry. I'm looking for constructive dialogue, not name calling.
David D February 23, 2012 at 04:30 PM
Then, you're in the wrong group Kirsten. This is all about name-calling WalMart.
Eric Tidd February 24, 2012 at 03:37 AM
I'm not necessarily opposed to Wal-Mart; however, I am opposed to the author calling my neighborhood "ghetto"! I take pride in my yard and take offense to your article.
Thomas Paine March 10, 2012 at 07:28 PM
Personally, I am not opposed to Wal-Mart, but if they tear down the existing building, where will we buy our mattresses, and where will we shop for our used clothing? Think of all the jobs that will be lost at MATTRESS OUTLET and the LAST CHANCE THRIFT STORE. Until Wal-Mart promises that they will offer used clothing and used mattresses, I will just hang out at the Bowling Alley.
~ HHS ~ March 12, 2012 at 02:17 AM
Wow! Mr. Cribbs, you brought a whole new perspective to the issue! You hit the issue right on the nose! As a property owner of several rental homes in the area, it is very hard to find tenants in the area that keep their yards tidy. However, we have made a good effort by putting upkeep a requirement in their lease. We charge extra if we have to send a landscaper to keep it up for them. But, obviously, many do not do this. The better the neighborhoods look, the better tenants you will get-- residentially AND commercially. Then, this debate about Wal-Mart would not be necessary. Trader Joes and other businesses would be beating down the doors to Suburban Plaza. Awesome Article-- Note to self-- ::Contact tenants to make sure yards are being maintained.:: -- Although, it should be a given. -- Everyone gets lazy now and then. Other note to self-- ::Spruce up my own yard!::
Jonathan Cribbs March 12, 2012 at 03:42 AM
It's important to note I didn't write the article, HHS. It's a letter to the editor. Jennifer Moore wrote the letter. You will never see me offering an opinion on an issue like this. I'm merely the conduit through which some of these opinions travel to their audience.
N.G. March 12, 2012 at 06:03 PM
I live in Medlock Park and actually blame a lot of the unkempt houses on the fact that they are rental homes. The owners are not making any kind of real investment to upgrade, or even upkeep, their yards, landscaping, gutters, paint, mailboxes, etc. I wish it was not a neighborhood that is as poached by people like HHS as it is. When I bought my house 5 years ago, I immediately threw $10,000 into my front landscaping. You'll never see HHS doing that. It's those types of capital investments that improve property values, not complaining about your tenants who don't rake your leaves. You are exactly the problem with Medlock -- 45% rental homes!!
~ HHS ~ March 12, 2012 at 11:48 PM
NG ...dont assume that all rental owners are alike. It is not just the tenants not caring for their homes..it is those living in their own homes too. We keep our houses in excellent shape. Our medlock house so happens to have just been completely renovated. And it was well OVER 10k. We bought this house 30 years ago...it was rental then too. So we did not poach your neighborhood. If you didnt want a rental environment, you should not have chosen close to a huge university.
~ HHS ~ March 12, 2012 at 11:54 PM
Also, many of those unkept homes are elderly on limited income. Perhaps start a group to work on helping those folks rather than assume you know they are all tenants/landlords.


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