Walmart is coming to Encinitas? The rumors have been floating around for over a year, since after the Home Depot Expo store closed at the corner of Leucadia Boulevard and El Camino Real.
The rumor mill was set off again last week, when, in the February 19 issue of a coastal weekly newspaper, a columnist well connected to city hall mentioned in a one-sentence item that Walmart had been quietly told "no thanks" after informally approaching a city planning official about the vacant store.
On February 24, head city planner Tom Curriden denied anyone in his department had formally talked to Walmart. He pointed out that a Walmart-type store at the vacant Expo location would probably never meet the City’s parking requirements.
Another liability for a new large tenant is that the shopping center’s property rests in both the jurisdictions of Encinitas and Carlsbad, thus having to meet two sets of requirements.
With millions of dollars in reserves (no city-employee-layoff or furlough talk here), Encinitas may be one of the few cities that can say “no” to big-box retailers. It has in the past.
Almost a decade ago, upon the city’s purchase of the 46-acre Hall Flower Growers property in Cardiff for a future sports park, Costco reportedly approached all five members of the city council individually. Costco reportedly explored the idea of a possible property swap for the freeway-access Hall property. The City would have ended up with more park acreage and some park-development funds. Three of the five council members told Costco “no thanks.”