Updated 5:30 pm: Whoa: gamechanger on the fringe of Downtown? The LA Business Journal reports (sub. req.) that Walmart has signed a lease to open a grocery store at Cesar Chavez and Grand Ave. in Chinatown. The 33,000 square foot space sits on the ground floor of the Grand Plaza senior housing complex, and was formerly slated for a Rio Ranch Market (props to blogger Brigham Yen for guessing at all this last month).
From the size of it, this sounds like it could be a Walmart Express --a line of smaller stores that can operate in urban areas. According to the Chicago Tribune , they're "typically 10,000 to 15,000 square feet...and carry fresh groceries, pharmacy and health and beauty aids." This will be Walmart's first LA County grocery store and apparently their strategy here in California is "to move quickly into already entitled retail spaces, allowing it to avoid the legal battles and community opposition that have so often stymied Wal-Mart in the state." UPDATE: According to Steven Restivo, Walmart's senior director of community affairs, this will be a Neighborhood Market (which usually run about 42,000 square feet--see example photos above) and will carry "fresh produce, meats and dairy products, frozen foods, dry goods, pharmacy and consumables."
Restivo says Walmart always looks to get into "communities that are underserved in terms of jobs and access to fresh, affordable food," and so the greater Downtown area made sense (he mentioned the Ralphs and the total lack of any other big grocery stores nearby). He also says that Walmart liked the "opportunity to revive a vacant property," and hopes to provide an "economic boost" to the area that will "complement existing businesses."
Renovation on the space is expected to start this summer and the store will probably open sometime in 2013. The store will have about 65 associate jobs, and Restivo stressed that most California Walmart workers are full-time employees.
· Wal-Mart to Put Grocery in Downtown L.A. [LABJ, sub. req.]