Wal-Mart Super Center set to open in Three Rivers

Wal-Mart Super Center set to open in Three Rivers

THREE RIVERS — The Three Rivers Super Center is undergoing finishing touches in advance of opening its doors at 8 a.m. Aug. 8. It will become the 82nd Wal-Mart store in Michigan.

The 184,000-square-foot building is one block west of U.S. 131 at Millard Street.

Nick Infante, public-affairs manager for Lansing-based Wal-Mart Michigan, said the Three Rivers store is one of three in Michigan opening within the first 10 days of August. The others are in Grand Haven and Livonia.

Although the Three Rivers store is not as large as the retailer’s biggest Super Center buildings, which are typically 205,000 square feet, he said the local store is appropriate for the size of its site and the population from which it will draw.

“Wal-Mart looks at a prospective location and surrounding population, then determines if it can fill a void when it looks at where its stores go up,” Infante said. “In this case, it was just the right fit for this area, being about 16 miles from the Portage store and 16 miles from the Sturgis location.”

The Super Center designation means the Three Rivers store will sell a full line of groceries, and include the services of a butcher and bakery, in addition to offering general merchandise, Infante said. Its design is consistent with other, newer Wal-Mart Super Centers. The company is trying to move away from its traditional blue-gray color and box style.

He said the Three Rivers store, once operating at full stride, will have 325 employees. The manager of the store is Amatha Davison.

Three Rivers officials said they are expecting to collect about $70,000 annually in real-estate taxes from the store.

City Manager Joe Bippus said the municipality enacted Public Act 425, a measure under which Three Rivers and Fabius Township will share tax revenues from the store and Three Rivers is providing water service to the site, located within Fabius Township. Three Rivers will collect revenues generated by 14.5 mills of tax, and Fabius Township will collect revenues generated by 3.5 mills of tax, Bippus said. Schools and all other local tax-dependent entities will receive their full amount of revenues from taxes on the store, Bippus added.

Infante said the Three Rivers Wal-Mart will distribute between $30,000 and $40,000 through various grants locally on an annual basis.

He said the traditional criticism of Wal-Mart is the impact its traditionally lower prices have on area businesses and downtown districts. It’s a complaint that he says is not completely justified.

“Wal-Mart might be what brings some people into Three Rivers, and if those people do what they need to do here, there’s a pretty good chance they’ll stop and get gas, grab a bite to eat, or go downtown and do some more shopping,“ he said. “If that family hadn’t come into town to go to Wal-Mart in the first place, it’s possible you might not have had that family come to Three Rivers at all.”

by Jef Rietsma, MLive.com

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