Jan 25, 2023 - Business

Vine City Walmart to reopen as Neighborhood Market

walmart

The Walmart on Martin Luther King Jr. Drive in Vine City has been closed since mid-December. Photo: Kristal Dixon/Axios.

Walmart will reopen one Atlanta store that's been crucial for providing residents with access to fresh food, but another location will be axed.

Driving the news: Walmart late Monday announced its Vine City store at 835 Martin Luther King Dr. Drive will reopen as one of its Neighborhood Market concepts, which are smaller stores that offer fresh food, a pharmacy, health and beauty products and household supplies.

  • However, Walmart also said it will permanently close the store at 1801 Howell Mill Road in Berkeley Park.
  • Both locations have been closed since mid-December after fires were set inside both locations.

Why it matters: Reopening the Vine City location ensures the neighborhood would not become a food desert.

  • Mayor Andre Dickens said in a statement that food security "is a moral right for our communities."
  • "The intersection of Martin Luther King Jr. Drive and Joseph E. Lowery Boulevard is a nexus of multiple northwest and southwest Atlanta communities with seniors, children, students and thousands of individuals and households who already lack accessible options for fresh, affordable food," he said.

What they're saying: Walmart spokesperson Charles Crowson said in an emailed statement that both stores suffered from a "variety of economic headwinds" before they closed last month.

  • Crowson said Walmart cares about the associates "whose lives have been impacted by the fires and these subsequent business decisions" and hopes they will stay with the company.

Yes, but: Makeda Johnson, a Vine City resident who spoke last week to Axios about the store’s status, said she's grateful that the location will reopen, but said having the full Walmart store was "beneficial to the community" because they could grab socks or a pair of pants along with groceries.

  • "I think that we deserve the superstore like it was," she said.

The intrigue: Walmart says it doesn't have the ability to repurpose the Howell Mill store, which is tucked away underneath a parking deck in The District at Howell Mill shopping center adjacent to I-75.

  • City Council member Dustin Hillis, whose district includes the Howell Mill Walmart, told Axios it's unfortunate that the store is closing because it's "one less place that people are going to have to get groceries."
  • Crowson said the company is working with the city to find a new use for the site.

What we're watching: The Atlanta Fire and Rescue Department has asked the public to help them identify a person of interest in the fires at both locations.

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