Walmart coming to Factoria, too
By NAT LEVY
Bellevue Reporter Staff Writer
January 12, 2012 · Updated 3:10 PM
Walmart has leased its second retail space in Bellevue.
The company announced Wednesday it will take over the space formerly occupied by Mervyn's at the Factoria Mall. The spot has been vacant for more than five years. Last week, the company confirmed that it would be the anchor tenant of the newly built Kelsey Creek Center. The two new stores will create approximately 220 jobs, Walmart officials said.
“We think our stores can be part of the solution for residents who need a job or want more affordable options close to home,” said Matti Havener, Walmart Senior Director and Regional General Manager for Washington and Oregon. “At the same time, we have the opportunity to revive two, dormant retail properties and deliver an added economic boost for the area.”
Walmart will renovate the former Mervyn’s space at Factoria Mall. The 76,000-square-foot Walmart will offer a full range of general merchandise. When completed, the store will employ approximately 125 associates.
Kurt Springman, vice president of the Newport Hills Community Club, which represents neighborhoods southeast of Factoria, said anything that brings in jobs will help the community. With the problems experienced by the Newport Hills Shopping Center, new businesses coming in felt refreshing to Springman.
“Our little shopping center up here is a little devoid of businesses at the moment, so anything that is going to be filling shopping and providing choices is a good thing,” he said.
Others were worried about Walmart's history of business practices. Elena Perez, a community organizer for UFCW 21, a grocer's union, showed concern about the kinds of jobs Walmart would be bringing. Perez is involved in the local branch of Make Change at Walmart, a group that seeks to improve conditions for Walmart employees.
"We're being told by Walmart that they are bringing jobs, but just any job isn't good enough," Perez said. "We expect in our communities jobs that pay fair pay, have fair benefits and embrace the values of the communities. We know Walmart does not operate in a way that reflects those values."
The new Walmart will be placed only a few doors from the Factoria Target, a Safeway, a QFC and a host of specialized small businesses.
Some residents have shown frustration about the lack of previous knowledge of Walmart's arrival in Bellevue. They wanted to be involved in the process and have their say in the matter. Bellevue's Director of Development Services Mike Brennan said permitting for the two Walmarts did not require any sort of public outreach in advance. In the case of Factoria, all that's needed to begin construction is a business license. As long as the company fits within zoning restrictions, the city would not deny the application
"The city doesn't regulate the company, we regulate the use," Brennan said.
Contact Bellevue Reporter Staff Writer Nat Levy at firstname.lastname@example.org or 425-453-4290.