Wednesday, July 05, 2006

NEIGHBORS >> Going up: New Cabot Wal-Mart nearing completion, set to open July 19

Leader staff writer

The new Wal-Mart Supercenter that will open in Cabot this month will be bigger than the old one with wider aisles and a bigger selection of merchandise.

Melissa O’Brien, spokeswoman for Wal-Mart, confirmed Friday that the store is scheduled to open July 19.
“It’s actually a supercenter that we’re relocating to a supercenter which is the first time we’ve done that,” O’Brien said, adding that the old store had become too small to serve the area.

The annual population estimates released in June by the U.S. Census Bureau places Cabot’s population at 21,039, an increase of 5,778 from the official 2000 census when Cabot’s population was 15,251, making it the second to Bentonville (the corporate headquarters of Wal-Mart) as the fastest-growing city in the state with populations of more than 10,000.

The new store will have an expanded grocery section, she said. It also will have a larger electronic department with more high-tech merchandise. The home section will be bigger with lower shelves and better displays to give customers decorating ideas.

O’Brien said the old store likely won’t stand empty very long. It was on the market just two weeks before it had prospective tenants, she said, adding that she could not release their names or the type of business.

The new store, which at 203,819 square-feet is roughly twice the size of the old one, is being stocked now. Cabot Public Works Director Jim Towe said the store has not been issued a certificate of occupancy, but he sees no reason for it to not open as scheduled. Asked about the traffic congestion in the area and whether Wal-Mart would help with completion of a road leading to the store from Highway 5, O’Brien said Wal-Mart is aware of traffic problems in the area but that the issue of completing the road is one that will have to be resolved between the city and county.

Lonoke County officials wanted the city to contribute $200,000 toward the construction of the road in exchange for the county replacing seven one-lane bridges on First Street with round culverts.

But the majority of the city council was opposed to the proposition and voted down in June an ordinance that would have obligated the city to spend the money on the new road.