Richland Hills finally gets a supermarket

07/04/2014 5:24 PM

07/04/2014 5:25 PM

After about 10 years of waiting, the city has finally landed a supermarket at Rufe Snow Drive and Boulevard 26.

A Wal-Mart Neighborhood Market is expected to open in early 2015, creating about 95 jobs, Wal-Mart spokeswoman Anne Hatfield wrote in an email. The markets are typically a fifth the size of a standard Wal-Mart and offer primarily groceries and household products.

The company will receive up to $500,000 in tax and cash incentives over 10 years, Richland Hills City Manager Eric Strong said.

The city, however, is expected to receive at least $20,000 a year in increased property tax revenue from the building and a minimum of $150,000 a year in sales tax revenue, Strong said.

Two-thirds of that money will go to the city’s general fund — the account used to pay salaries and other day-to-day expenses. The other third will be split between the city’s crime control prevention district and its economic development fund.

Besides an economic boost, the project represents a quality-of-life enhancement for the city of about 8,400, which has no other supermarkets, Strong said.

Councilwoman Beverly Williams said residents have made it clear in surveys that they want a supermarket.

“I think it’s great,” Williams said. “I can’t wait. Our citizens want a grocery store in town. It’s just been a need.”

The 6.8-acre site, which borders North Richland Hills, has been vacant since 2003 when it was cleared as part of a city-private development effort to attract a supermarket. An Albertsons supermarket was slated to anchor the new strip center, but the project never materialized after city officials said in 2003 that the company wanted to concentrate on its existing stores.

A Sam’s Furniture and Appliance store, the Book Swap, which specialized in out-of-print used books, the Sir Loin Steak House and Archie’s Donut Shop were among the casualties.

Seven houses in the nearby 6600 block of Hovenkamp Avenue were also bought and demolished.

Strong said the Wal-Mart will be about 42,000 square feet and will include a gasoline station. Shoppers can order products at www.walmart.com and have them delivered to the Richland Hills store for free, Hatfield wrote. Construction began within the past few weeks.

Wages at Wal-Mart average $12.46 an hour in Texas, Hatfield wrote. She did not answer a question about whether Wal-Mart would have come to Richland Hills without tax incentives.

She declined to say how much the project will cost, calling that information “proprietary.”

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