Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Irresponsible Propaganda for Northcross

Hope Morrison: the sky is falling at Northcross! It doesn't take long in reading this diatribe to find inaccuracies (and that's a nice way of putting it) in Ms. Morrison's assertions regarding the proposed Wal-Mart at Northcross Mall.

First up: regarding the Anderson/Burnet intersection, "Now imagine four times as much traffic there." Not even close, Ms. Morrison. You might want to read this Traffic Impact Analysis, which points out that Anderson/Burnet currently rates a "D", which, just like in schools, is still considered passing, though it probably shouldn't be. With the new Wal-Mart, it still rates a "D". Big deal, you say? Well, per these Questions and Answers, it can be seen (question #29) that Anderson/Burnet averages a 49.1-second delay during AM rush. What would this Wal-Mart do to that time? I mean, with four times the traffic, it should be horrible, right? Wrong. Try 54 seconds. Would you even notice an extra 4.9 seconds? Be honest, just as Ms. Morrison is not. (Be sure to click those links, as Responsible Growth for Northcross apparently hopes you don't.)

How about this one: "When Wal-Mart enters an area, small and local businesses are forced to close..." I guess when our latest Supercenter went in, I missed the news reports of the Wal-Mart goons going around forcibly closing other businesses. Obviously, Ms. Morrison simply misspelled "compete" as "close". That's the only logical reasoning behind such a ridiculous statement...

...but wait, what's this? "Responsible Growth for Northcross...supported by many residents and businesses [emphasis obviously mine] in the Northcross area, opposes the plan..." Well, duh! Many businesses are apparently opposing Wal-Mart's entry into the area because it would directly compete against them. And apparently these businesses lack the wherewithal or the knowledge to stay afloat, and begrudge a company that has both.

I like this one: "Lincoln Property's site plan has been approved, but we think the review process has significant flaws." I suppose there's some truth in there: anyone who has ever had to get a site plan approved by the City of Austin knows the process is, well, annoying. But just because RG4N thinks something is wrong with the site plan (their website calls the approved site plan illegal; it's not), that doesn't make it reality.

Face it: Wal-Mart and Lincoln Property have their ducks in a row. They have spoken with neighborhood groups in good faith. RG4N's time to mobilize for Northcross was six years ago, when the ice rink closed and the future of the whole mall looked bleak.


hope said...

Just wanted to clear a couple of things up:

"Four times the traffic" is based on actual traffic counts at Wal-Marts in Austin taken by city staff once everyone acknowledged that the traffic impact analysis submitted by Lincoln was quite likely underestimating traffic.

Business closure statement was based on published research, not anecdotal musings about a single Wal-Mart.

The statement about the city approval process having flaws alludes to our allegations that the city didn't follow the law in reviewing and approving the site plan. For example, we assert that a feature of the site plan required that the plan undergo a conditional use process rather than an administrative process for approval.

Finally, Lincoln and Wal-Mart haven't spoken to neighborhood groups in good faith. Wal-Mart sent an attorney to a couple of meetings, and later PR representatives and representatives from a contractor firm -- no company decision makers, and certainly no real dialogue or negotiation. Lincoln sent a representative to one neighborhood associations' meeting back in November but has failed to meet with anyone since they announced their supposed moratorium (during which time the company committed to outreach to neighborhoods).

As you might imagine, there are alot of complexities to this situation that can't be adequately addressed in the 700 words the paper allows for such editorials. So I understand if readers come up with questions that aren't addressed - and that misunderstandings occur pretty easily. But thank you for your interest in this issue. I hope my comments are helpful.