D.C.

Wal-Mart on New York Avenue falls through

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WASHINGTON (WJLA) - The debate over D.C.’s living wage bill comes down to a decision from Mayor Vincent Gray. He’s expected to announce his decision next week. If he signs the bill into law, Wal-Mart has threatened to pull the plug on three of six planned stores in Washington, but the development plan for one of those locations is already falling apart.

The owner of the land at New York Avenue, Montana Avenue and Bladensburg Road says a deal to build a Wal-Mart has “fallen out” after another possible tenant, Lowes, decided to open a store at the nearby Costco instead.

“Just coming through here there are not any grocery stores, so Wal-Mart would be good,” says Carolyn Barlow.

“Now we have Costco, so I don’t know how much impact Wal-Mart will play at this time,” says Adebayo Ojomo.

Publicly, Wal-Mart says it’s still committed to building a store at the location, but property owner Jerry Shaeffer tells ABC7, “Right now everything is in limbo until we hear from the mayor. We’ve reached out to the Wal-Mart but we haven’t heard back. They must be gun-shy, waiting to see what the city is doing.”

Shaeffer is referring to the living wage bill requiring big box retailers to pay employees $12.50 an hour.

“We’ll make a decision when the time comes on the legislation,” says Mayor Gray.

While the development deal is up in the air, the mayor has 10 business days to make a decision on the living wage bill. It officially landed on his desk this past Tuesday, meaning he has until Sept. 16 to either sign or veto it.

“Matter of fact I was struck by the fact that Wal-Mart was quoted in the paper as saying that they were committed to Ward 5 because the last thing I heard was they were pulling out of Ward 5,” Gray says.

Coucilmember Kenyan McDuffie says jobs and retail are badly needed in Ward 5, but even with the development now in flux, he does not regret voting in favor of the bill.

“But I got to tell you, it’s not a day that goes by when I engage constituents who don’t thank me for my vote.”

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