Proposed Wal-Mart in McCandless gets planners' OK

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Plans to build a Wal-Mart Supercenter on Blazier Drive in McCandless where Trader Horn, Brewery Outlet and a former Bally’‍s now stand have received unanimous approval from the town’‍s planning commission.

If the proposal gets final approval and the sale of the property goes through, all three buildings would be demolished. The nearby Rave movie theater property was studied but would not be part of this development, McCandless manager Tobias Cordek said, noting that two-thirds of that site is in a flood zone.   

The next step is for the plan to obtain land development and zoning approval, which town council will consider at 7:30 p.m. July 21 during its regular zoning, finance and agenda meeting. Residents will be able to ask questions or present concerns about the proposal at the meeting.

The planning commission on July 1 approved the plan to build a 150,000-square-foot Wal-Mart Supercenter on 23 acres at the site off McKnight Road. 

Plans call for the supercenter to include a grocery store with fresh produce and dairy, a bakery and a deli, besides general merchandise and apparel, said Bill Wertz, spokesman for Arkansas-based Wal-Mart Stores Inc.

He said the store would employ about 300 people, most of whom would have full-time jobs.

Mr. Cordek said the development would have to adhere to conditions involving traffic improvements, and meet requirements and recommendations from township engineers. “In addition to this, there were other suggestions that were made and accepted by the developer, as well as some architectural suggestions recommended by the staff and planning commission, which are being looked at by the Walmart architect,” Mr. Cordek added.

“This is a large-scale building which would generate a significant amount of traffic,” land use administrator Bruce G. Betty said, noting that the zoning of the site permits large-scale retail. He added that extensive traffic studies have been undertaken and a set of onsite improvements have been proposed by Walmart to mitigate the impact of the additional traffic. “Our engineers have reviewed those changes and concurred, as well as addressing some deficiencies in lane capacity on state roads that PennDOT is reviewing.”

Mr. Betty recalled that the original development in that area dates back to 1978. “There was a Kmart and a Kroger there,” he said, noting that tentative plans for a skyscraper with a revolving restaurant on top never made it off the ground.

When asked if the businesses at the new McCandless Crossing might be worried about the prospect of a Wal-Mart just down the street, Mr. Cordek replied, “That’s up to the consumer to decide. This is a free market system.”

The site of the former Sam’s Club on McKnight Road in Ross is still owned by Wal-Mart, but the building on that property was demolished last year and the land remains vacant. Mr. Wertz said he was not aware of any plans for that property.

Jill Cueni-Cohen, freelance writer:

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