News & Politics

Plan for Walmart Site Falls Apart With ‘Living Wage’ Bill Sitting on Vince Gray’s Desk

One of Walmart's six planned locations is on the skids after the agreement between the landowners and a developer falls apart.

Photograph via Shutterstock.

Today marks the fourth day in the 10-day period that DC Mayor Vince Gray has to decide what to do with a bill requiring some large retailers to pay a minimum wage of $12.50 an hour, but it appears that the plans for one of Walmart’s desired locations have collapsed.

The Washington Post reports that a planned retail development bound by New York Ave., Montana Ave., and Bladensburg Rd. in Northeast DC hit the skids after the agreement between the developer and the landowners dissolved. The site had been the planned home of one of six Walmart stores the company is seeking to open in the District.

Neither the developer or the owners say the collapse of their deal happened because of the Large Retailer Accountability Act, which would require big-box stores such as Walmart to pay their workers more than 50 percent above the District’s minimum wage, but the location had already been dragged into the fray over the bill. While three of Walmart’s planned stores are under construction, the retailer has said that if the living wage bill becomes law, it will pull out of its commitments to the other three sites, including New York Ave.

The original plan for the retail development called for a Walmart to be stacked on top of a Lowe’s hardware store, but Lowe’s preferred to open at the Shops at Dakota Crossing, a retail plaza on the Maryland border where Costco opened last year.

The New York Ave. site is still zoned for retail, and Walmart says that it is still one of the few major stores interested in opening an outlet there. Of course, even if a new development deal can be arranged, it’s still all incumbent on Gray vetoing the living wage bill and the DC Council not overriding.

“If the LRAA does not become law, six stores are back on in Washington, DC,” says Walmart spokesman Steven Restivo.

Staff Writer

Benjamin Freed joined Washingtonian in August 2013 and covers politics, business, and media. He was previously the editor of DCist and has also written for Washington City Paper, the New York Times, the New Republic, Slate, and BuzzFeed. He lives in Adams Morgan.