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Walmart permits ready, waiting in West Linn

by: SUBMITTED PHOTO What Walmart neighborhood market planned in West Linn might look similar to this when completed. The “market” store is moving into the former Bales grocery store in the Robinwood Shopping Center on Highway 43.

Plans are moving forward for the opening of Walmart in West Linn.

City of West Linn staff announced Sept. 19 that the building permits for the property at 19133 Willamette Drive had been approved and available for the applicant - Walmart.

Though Walmart's name is not on the permit application, a Walmart spokesperson confirmed in July the company's intention of opening a store in that location within the Robinwood Shopping Center on Highway 43.

The permits - for the lease space and mostly interior tenant improvements - will be released to the applicant when fees are paid and a contractor is disclosed. Then, improvements may begin on the former Bales grocery store location.

The city stated that it anticipates minor improvements on the outside of the building as well, such as repainting and repairing cracked window trims.

As of Sept. 26, the permits were not yet picked up, the fees had not been paid and no disclosure was made.

Kirsten Wyatt, assistant city manager, stated that there also has been no signage application yet.

The typical next step for a new business is to complete the improvements, which will then be subject to a final inspection by the city's building department. Upon successful inspection, a certificate of occupancy will be issued and the tenant can then move into the space, according to Wyatt.

During the Sept. 26 West Linn City Council meeting, Greta Pedersen expressed concern about traffic patterns when Walmart opens and about Walmart's labor practices.

'This is an opportunity for West Linn to look at that, and see what kind of business we want,' she said.

Another citizen at the meeting, Lewis Arnold, was worried about noise and the safety of children in the neighborhood.

'We are concerned about the traffic,' he said. 'It's something that needs to be well thought out.'

City Attorney Tim Ramis said the city reviews all land-use proposals and since Walmart is moving into an existing grocery store location, it does not require a land-use review or public hearing.

City Manager Chris Jordan added that the city has a noise ordinance and if complaints arise, the police department will respond.

The store will be a Walmart 'market,' which is a scaled-down version of the 185,000-square-foot Walmart 'supercenter' stores.

The neighborhood stores are typically 42,000-square feet selling approximately 29,000 items.

According to the Walmart website, the company does not have any of its Neighborhood Markets in Oregon yet, although it has permits filed for similar stories in Gresham and Beaverton. No permits have been filed in Lake Oswego, although Walmart spokespeople have said the company will pursue remodeling the former Wild Oats grocery store off Boones Ferry Road. It has 17 supercenters, 14 discount stores and one distribution center in Oregon.

The plans and permit requests for the building are available at city hall for public review.

Deborah Herron, a spokesperson for Walmart, said renovations are set to begin later this year and more details will be provided once a contractor is selected.