Wal-Mart resumes pursuit of Oxon Hill site


The proposed Wal-Mart Supercenter in Oxon Hill, Md. This is a perspective of the store along Oxon Hill Road. (Courtesy of Walmart )
November 17, 2013

Wal-Mart has taken another step in its quest to open a Supercenter in Oxon Hill, about a mile from National Harbor.

The chain has submitted an application to Prince George’s County for the construction of a 100,310-square-foot store on 15 acres of vacant land owned by the Peterson Cos. adjacent to John Hanson Montessori School, on Oxon Hill Road near Indian Head Highway.

Wal-Mart pitched the plan two years ago, with the goal of opening the store this year, but the proposal was delayed in the planning approval process because County Council members had issues with the design. The chain worked to redesign the store to address concerns about traffic and safety from council members and residents who said the proposed store was too close to the school.

The council passed legislation last year limiting the size of big-box stores with groceries to 85,000 square feet, so Wal-Mart is seeking an exception.

The proposal is one of several Wal-Mart is pursuing as it quickly expands in the Washington region. The chain, which has about 30 stores in the area, is planning six stores in the District, two of which will open this year, company officials said.


Wal-Mart operates three stores in Prince George’s and also wants to build one at the Duvall Village Center in Bowie. The site plan for that store is under review.

The proposed Oxon Hill site is surrounded by mostly single-family housing, in a growing area of the county close to the National Harbor resort and the Tanger Outlets, set to open Friday.

The Wal-Mart would have a full-size grocery and bring 300 jobs to southern Prince George’s, Wal-Mart spokeswoman Amanda Henneberg said.

The store would feature a brick-and-stone facade with a glass atrium entrance. As proposed, it would be close to the road to create an “urban” feel, with easy pedestrian access, according to Wal-Mart.

“We think our store will be an anchor for the vision for Oxon Hill Road as a retail destination, and we look forward to providing the local community with convenient shopping options that include fresh, affordable food and a wide assortment of general merchandise,” Henneberg said.

Andre Gingles, an attorney for the project, said some design changes were made to address concerns raised by parents and county officials.

The revised plan moves the store’s access point to Clipper Way instead of Oxon Hill Road. The building also would be constructed closer to Oxon Hill Road, with parking on the side of the building instead of adjacent to the road. Parking spaces were added to meet the county’s requirements.

 

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Wal-Mart officials said the center will provide a significant landscaping buffer between the store and the Montessori school.

Parents from John Hanson and Oxon Hill High School, a few blocks away, have rallied against the proposal, expressing concern about security and the environmental impact on the school community.

“We don’t want it next door to our school,” said Nicole Nelson, who has second- and third-graders at John Hanson and has been fighting the project for two years. “We have security concerns. We are also concerned about the pollution that would be produced from the construction itself and the impact on our children.”

The project is being reviewed by the county’s planning department, planner Tom Lockard said. The case is expected to be heard early next year by the county’s zoning hearing examiner.

Luz Lazo writes about transportation and development. She has recently written about the challenges of bus commuting, Metro’s dark stations, and the impact of sequestration on air travel.
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