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Walmart will celebrate its grand opening at 7:30 a.m. at the store, 11145 Bryton Town Center Drive, Huntersville. Details: www.walmart.com.

 

HUNTERSVILLE – Walmart’s grand opening July 24 at Bryton Town Center will mean more to the area than simply adding nearly 300 jobs, according to a Walmart researcher.

The 148,000-square-foot store will also serve as an anchor store as retail development expands at Bryton, a 450-acre, mixed-use development with 1 million feet of retail space.

“The initial impact (on area consumers and other businesses) is going to be really huge in the first few weeks,” said Dave Brennan, a marketing professor at the University of St. Thomas (Minn.), who added he expects the area’s more affluent residents to check it out once it opens.

“They’ll be interested too, just because of the proximity,” he said. “It’s a zero-sum game. Walmart wins, so the other (retailers) are going to have to lose.”

Small businesses will especially take hits early on, he added.

But there are some positives to take from what will be the town’s second big-box retailer, following Target, town planner Zac Gordon said.

“A number of road improvements, totaling approximately $32 million, were constructed in conjunction with the Bryton development,” he said, “including the widening of N.C. 115 to four lanes, the extension of Hambright Road east from N.C. 115 to Everette Keith Road, and various internal roads to serve Bryton.”

Gordon believes the area’s landscape will be permanently changed once Walmart opens.

“When completed, the Bryton development will be the largest commercial, retail, office and residential center in Huntersville,” he said. “(Bryton) was originally conceived as a transit-oriented development, and as part of its construction, the Norfolk Southern rail line was relocated to facilitate the development of Bryton and the placement of a transit station along the rail line. 

“Bryton will likely continue to have impacts on the surrounding area for many years to come,” Gordon said.

The development is also approved for 1 million square feet of office and flexible space, 2,000 multi-family houses and 200 single-family homes.

Charlotte-based American Asset Corporation developed Bryton as well as the new Walmart. AAC also built the Rosedale development in Huntersville.

The entire Bryton development is expected to have a $1 billion market value, according to the AAC’s website. Walmart’s building permits alone cost $14 million, Gordon said.

Walmart should bring in much more money than that, however.

“If you take a look at many Walmart Supercenters, they can do $75 million in sales in a year,” Brennan said. “It will probably expand the trade area (the distance shoppers drive to visit a store), which is one of the positives a Walmart brings.”

Brennan said the new Walmart could also stop “leakage,” or shoppers driving to other areas like Mooresville, Denver or Charlotte to go to Walmart.

Brennan expects half of the new Walmart’s sales to come from produce.

“They’re trying to show they have good meat and produce at lower-than-market prices, which makes them a competitor to some grocery stores,” he added. “Sales are also going to be moving from existing retailers to Walmart, but I don’t believe Harris Teeter will be impacted like some of the other retailers and grocers because of a slightly different (customer) base.”

Lori Tackett, the manager for the new Walmart, told The Herald Weekly on July 11 the nearly 300 employees who will work in the building – hourly, supervising and management workers – had already gone through training and are ready to start the job.

Tackett believes residents who have concerns about traffic need not worry.

“We’re well-prepared (with employees) and once we open, I’m sure there will be attention paid to the traffic,” she said. “I don’t expect it to be a major issue. We’re excited to get started and see how the people respond.”