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Walmart plans for Granite Bay store

By: ToLewis, The Press Tribune
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Placer County officials confirmed Walmart is planning on opening a grocery store at Sierra Oaks Shopping Center in Granite Bay. District 4 Supervisor Kirk Uhler said the retail giant submitted plans for tenant improvements at 4080 Douglas Blvd., the building currently occupied by Grocery Outlet and formerly Smart Buys. Uhler said the proposed store will likely not be a full-sized Walmart, but rather a scaled-down grocery store similar to the Albertson’s that originally occupied the building. “I think the name Walmart freaks some people out for whatever reason,” Uhler said. “But this is a grocery store going in where grocery stores have been for almost three decades.” Uhler said Walmart began venturing into the neighborhood grocery sector of the market with the intent to compete with retail grocers such as Raley’s, Safeway and others. According to the company website, Walmart Neighborhood Markets, which are typically about 42,000 square feet, first opened in 1998 and there are 164 stores nationwide. Neighborhood markets employ about 95 associates and contain grocery items such as fresh produce, meat and dairy products, frozen foods, dried goods, deli foods, bakery items and more, according to the company website. Company spokespeople have stated, however, that Walmart is not releasing any information as to whether or not it plans to move into Granite Bay. “We are looking at ways to better serve our Granite Bay customers and serving our community,” said Walmart spokesman Lorenzo Lopez. “But at this current time we don’t have any formal plans to announce.” The closest Walmart to Granite Bay is located at 400 Lead Hill Blvd. in Roseville, two miles from the proposed location of the new store. In the meantime, a flier vehemently against the proposed store has been circulated in surrounding neighborhoods asking concerned citizens to attend the next Granite Bay Municipal Advisory Council meeting on Dec. 7 to voice concerns. The flier suggests the new store would bring increased traffic to the area, attract crime and affect the quality of life for residents. “We need the community to encourage the council to review the proposed Walmart and give the residents a voice in the matter,” the flier reads. The author of the flier is unknown and it is unclear as to which group is circulating it. Meanwhile, Uhler said it is his understanding that Grocery Outlet plans to vacate the space, which is already permitted to be a commercial grocery store. “We don’t have discretion to not permit it based on who the applicant is,” Uhler said. “It’s the exact same process, regardless of whose name is on the permit, as long as the use is the same.” Dave Herout, the owner of Grocery Outlet in Granite Bay, declined to give comments on the potential Walmart store. Granite Bay resident Susan Mitchell said she is a frequent customer of Grocery Outlet and would be sad to see the store go. “It’s a great little community store and it fits with what we do here,” Mitchell said. “I don’t think we need a Walmart here. Another big chain grocery store is not what we need.” Lee Christensen, associate with Wisconsin-based E.J. Plesko & Associates, Inc., which owns Sierra Oaks Shopping Center, also declined to comment. Toby Lewis can be reached at tobyl@goldcountrymedia.com. Follow him on Twitter @TobyLewis_RsvPT.