Wednesday, February 10, 2010

WHERE IS WAL-MART

Most citizens in this valley know that a proposal was on the table of Heber City Government which included a Wal-Mart store among other things.
The Boyer project known as “Valley Station” promised a Wal-Mart as part of new ordinance that was enacted by Heber City for them, which later went to the public for some scrutiny.
There was a vote held, in which a small majority of citizens decided that such a retail establishment along with the ordinance would be good for the local economy and for jobs. In fact, the promise was that 350 jobs would be generated for old and young alike.

Due to a number of decisions made by Heber City Officials, information regarding the “when” of building a Wal-Mart store became lost and Heber City placed themselves at the mercy of Boyer Development.
Early on there was a promise that a new store would be up and running in 2008, then 2009 and perhaps it may happen in 2010 or 2011.

Sources in Salt Lake and Park City have confirmed that Wal-Mart, if built at all may start in the spring of 2010. This date may not be exact since Wal-Mart does not build in a economic down turn nor do they open a store in the winter. These two things were discussed and made public during a meeting with the Heber City Council in 2008.

There has been a number of requests from Citizens and the local press for Heber City Government to keep the citizens informed. Heber officials have not been able to do so, mainly because they are no longer in the loop of information.

Previously, promises were made by the Mayor of Heber City, that he would find the answers and report to the citizens. He has not been able to fulfill that promise as of yet.

Based on information from reliable sources there are four important points that need to be made.

1. Sources in Salt Lake and in Park City confirm that discussions with Wal-Mart management suggest that spring of 2010 may be the time for a start of the Heber Wal-Mart, but then again maybe not.

2. Wal-Mart at the present time is more centered on completing the Park City store, than worrying about a small store Heber City. Sources also believe the economic downturn may be a blessing, because the bean counters are not sure if construction of a store in Heber City would be good for the store in Park City since the Park City store is one of the most profitable stores in the state. In their estimation, the Heber City store is still iffy and it would take a serious turn- around of the economy to make it really profitable for them.

3. Boyer is still in the mix. In their approach to other retailers to take up residence in the Valley Station Project, to be able to mention the possibility of a Wal-Mart is a great carrot. It would seem that if they could fill their project with other retailers, the fact that Wal-Mart may or may not be coming in the end would not be a big deal to them.

4. Sources are still talking about the Boyer/Park City deal on about 200 acres at Quinn’s Junction. They are adamant that Boyer could and may use the Heber project to their advantage when it comes to discussing workers housing and other types of space. This may mean more housing at Valley Station and a lot less retail. This would not be a good sign for Heber City since they have been counting and spending the tax revenue for some 3 and a half years in anticipation of what may come.

The bottom line is, regardless of what is printed or said by the Mayor, the local paper or the Heber City Manager, we, meaning all of us, know very little about the future of this project and somehow if the City receives any notification regarding a starting date in the six months or so, it may be framed in words such as, “may”, “could”, “perhaps”, “try”, “moving forward”, “still working on it”. The words sound great, but means very little in the big picture.

People need to move on and Heber City needs to move forward on other matters, licking their wounds on this project and hopefully learning from it. If the project comes at all, the revenues will not even be close to projections. The 350 jobs which were promised will not materialize and the size of the store shown in the pretty pictures and the public promises will be a pitiful reminder that when playing with the big boys, you make sure you get, before you give. We did just the opposite on this project.