Moon Officials: Walmart Could be Boon for Township Businesses
No construction date is yet planned for the Moon Township store, but community leaders believe the retailer will spur development along University Boulevard.
Moon planning director Adam McGurk said the sooner the deserted former West Hills Shopping Center property is developed, the better it will be for business in the township.
The empty lot, sitting at the corner of University Boulevard and Brodhead Road, was purchased by the Walmart Corp. in 2007. It is slated to house a 150,000 square-foot store for the national retailer.
"It's almost like the broken windows theory," McGurk said. "If you have a broken window and don't fix it, it just leads to more and more problems."
No construction date has yet been scheduled for the store.
Walmart on Oct. 19 resubmitted an application to the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation for a highway occupancy permit, marking one of the final steps before work on the store can begin.
McGurk said a Moon Township Walmart could spur development along University Boulevard.
"The less abandoned buildings you have along University Boulevard, the better it is going to look, and the more positive business you're going to have attacked to that corridor."
Township manager Jeanne Creese said the long-planned development has gotten the attention of neighboring businesses in the community.
"We've seen a lot of the older businesses surrounding there to call us and express interest about getting permits and putting money into redoing their site," Creese said. "The hope is that when the Walmart goes in, there will be traffic coming in to that, and you will see the parcels along University Boulevard continue to develop."
Creese said one example of that interest are upcoming improvements to Moon Township's Giant Eagle, which plans an expansion that will include a cafe and beer and wine sales.
Giant Eagle spokesman Victor Kimmel said the corporation is unable to comment on upgrades to the University Boulevard location.
Creese said because Walmart is set to develop a long-abandoned property in Moon, concerns that the big-box retailer will create a decline in neighboring businesses might not come to pass.
"Moon's Walmart was a little different in the sense that they are redeveloping what is essentially a blighted parcel," Creese said. "That made ours somewhat atypical compared to some of the complaints against Walmart.
"We don't envision (neighboring businesses) going away because of Walmart," she said. "We actually picture them changing their product in response and doing very well."
McGurk said he has not received requests about other businesses looking to relocate closer to Walmart's eventual store, but he anticipates that he will in the future.
"It's well known in the industry that Walmart does attract other retailers," McGurk said. "Certain retailers will look where a new Walmart has been built and then they'll try to locate close to them because of the traffic that they draw."
Sound off: What do you think? Would Walmart in Moon Township help or hurt surrounding business?