Uproar over proposed Sarasota Wal-Mart - WFLA News Channel 8

Uproar over proposed Sarasota Wal-Mart

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SARASOTA COUNTY, FL (WFLA) -

A proposed Wal-Mart store near downtown Sarasota is sparking a lot of controversy.  Longtime Sarasota resident Michelle Dehart has seen it all at the Ringling shopping center.  "We had a lot over there come and go," said Dehart. "Publix has always been there we had Belk Lindsey, we had Woolworth's.."  But now as she looks at the mostly vacant complex, she doesn't see much of anything.  "It is [an eyesore] I'm tired of looking at it," she said.

Wal-Mart is proposing to build a 98,000 square foot store at the Ringling shopping center. The city planning board approved the project, but many locals have waged a fight. On Tuesday night, at least 45 people were scheduled to share their views with city commissioners.  In many cases, news of a Wal-Mart could be seen as a threat to small businesses, but some of the merchants nearby are in full support. Instead, most of the opposition comes from the surrounding neighborhoods.  More specifically- the Alta Vista Neighborhood association just south of the complex.

Gregory Schwartz with the Neighborhood association said, "They want a Wal-Mart 24/7, it's not gonna work."  He said, "The immediate neighbors, they're concerned about the noise, the bright lights, what kind of people it's gonna bring in or hangin' around."

Dehart says Wal-Mart could improve the area.  She said, "I think it's a great idea. It could be a wonderful idea for all the people around here, you could go to the grocery store, save on gas from driving."  But others don't think Wal-Mart is the answer.  Schwartz said, "It's a safe neighborhood, it's a good neighborhood, we want to keep it that way."  So city commissioners will listen to both sides before a final decision in made.

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