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Atascadero Walmart to be scaled back

The developers of the planned Walmart in Atascadero are expected to once again revise the project — but this time make it smaller.

Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. representatives met with city leaders this week to discuss revised plans that would scale down the size of the project off Del Rio Road by nearly 40,000 square feet.

The new plans eliminate a tire-and-lube center, a drive-through pharmacy and some space for merchandise. The project will still include groceries, company spokesman Aaron Rios said.

In January, the Atascadero City Council agreed to seek proposals for an analysis of economic and environmental effects of the proposed Walmart and an adjacent shopping center.

However, that process cannot begin until the developer submits final plans for the project — which the city expects to receive in the next two weeks.

The revised application will be for a store and two adjacent restaurant pads totaling about 120,000 square feet — smaller than the current proposal for a 157,000-square foot building.

When Atascadero voters rejected Measure D in 2008 — which would have imposed a size limit on local stores — the project application was for a Walmart Supercenter of 146,500 square feet. However, in January, City Councilman Jerry Clay requested that it include the pharmacy and auto center.

Rios said that his company considered the suggestion but no longer views it as feasible.

As now proposed, the store will be similar in size to the Walmart in Paso Robles but would include groceries, said Rios.

Rios said the plans for the smaller store were prompted not by the recession, but by the proposed location’s site constraints.

“To do a larger facility and maintain the two parcels included with it would require a significant amount of site work that just doesn’t make sense,” Rios said.

Reducing the size of the proposed store would also eliminate the need to ask the City Council to change Atascadero’s land-use laws, which limit a store at the project site to 150,000 square feet.

“This project is very much about what is appropriate for the site design,” Rios said. “It is about meeting the customer base and filling customer needs.”

Rios said the delay in submitting final plans to the city came from the need to study the expanded project and that developers are now ready to move forward.

“The (environmental) study is the next major phase, and we needed to make sure that before we began that we were comfortable with the overall size of the store,” Rios said.

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