A second Walmart is going up along car-clogged Sawmill Road, but the retail giant has been mum about details.

A second Walmart is going up along car-clogged Sawmill Road, but the retail giant has been mum about details.

This one is going up north of I-270, something area residents feared a year ago when the Olde Sawmill Square Shopping Center was closing and rumors began to swirl.

Now that they know the store is coming, residents say details are hard to come by.

“We can’t get hold of any representative,” said Ryan Bunner, president of the Olde Sawmill Civic Association. “They don’t care.”

This much is known: The store will be a 176,290-square-foot Supercenter, said Scott Messer, deputy director for the Columbus Department of Building and Zoning Services.

That’s bigger than the 134,000-square-foot Walmart Supercenter located about 3.5 miles south at the Carriage Place shopping center at Bethel and Sawmill roads.

City building officials approved the site plan on Aug. 8 and the permit on Aug. 22.

The Walmart Real Estate Business Trust bought the 13-acre Olde Sawmill Square Shopping Center for $4 million. The sale closed in early August.

The new store will add traffic to an area already clogged with cars and trucks. Every day, an average of 28,913 vehicles travel past the site, according to the Mid-Ohio Regional Planning Commission.

Work crews are clearing the site and preparing for construction, which will begin in September.

Last year, a group called Keep Olde Sawmill Safe tried to fight the new development. Members were worried that a big box store would create too much traffic and not fit in with the neighborhood.Now they want the company to work with neighbors.

“The community cannot fight this billon-dollar monster,” Bunner said.

Mark Rickel, a Wal-Mart spokesman, said the store will open by next summer and that neighbors will know about plans.

When Wal-Mart announced its Carriage Place store eight years ago, the company agreed to the smaller building after residents objected to a 187,000-square-foot store.

Bonnie Reynolds, who has lived in the Olde Sawmill neighborhood for three decades, said she and others feel disgusted and powerless.

“Maybe we just bite the bullet and take it,” she said.

Casto, the company that sold the Olde Sawmill site and is developing the Walmart site, retained a 26,000-square-foot wing of the center that includes several stores. The company plans to make some facade improvements, said Charles Fraas, Casto’s vice president of development.

Fraas, who said he tried to address the civic association’s questions earlier this year, called the new development “a terrific opportunity for the Sawmill Road corridor.”

Bunner, Reynolds and others who live there might not agree.

“They know that there’s a good percentage of the population not happy with them,” Bunner said.




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