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A WalMart in Newport?

March 13, 2012

An artist’s conception of what a WalMart Superstore would look like in Newport City. Courtesy photo.

NEWPORT – Paul Bruhn, Executive Director of Preservation Trust of Vermont, wants a WalMart in the Northeast Kingdom, but not in Derby. His vision is to put it at the corner of Coventry Street and Main Street in Newport City, where the People's United Bank (formerly the Chittenden Bank), the back parking lot and the U.S. Post Office is now. Right across from Pick & Shovel.
Chris Hamblett, president of the Pick and Shovel, has heard rumors about the possibility of a WalMart across the street from his business.
"From a business owners standpoint, we are totally pro having it in Newport," he said. "I believe having it across the street from us would be a great decision. It would draw a lot of traffic to town. If we were right across the street from all that traffic, we should be able to benefit from it."
Hamblett would favor having the store anywhere in Newport, a community that already has an existing infrastructure.
Business developer Tony Pomerleau, who owns the Waterfront Plaza, likes the idea of having a WalMart in Newport.
"It would be tremendous for downtown," said Pomerleau, who suggested a one story building with a parking garage on the block between Second Street and Central Street. "That would really do something for downtown."
Pomerleau would like to see WalMart built in Gardner Park, which is across the street from the Waterfront Plaza.
Bruhn believes a WalMart superstore - which would include 300 parking spaces on a three-tier garage, a two-story shopping area, a bank and the post office - is just the thing to revitalize downtown Newport.
"We've been involved with WalMart since the 1990s," Bruhn said. "Vermonters need the kind of shopping experience that a WalMart provides."
Bruhn said the important thing is to "get the concept out there" and "start the discussion."
"People make assumptions of what is possible," he said. "This is about trying to start the conversation."
When asked about traffic in a bottlenecked area famous for traffic jams, Bruhn said, "There are multiple ways into the city." He said the store would be a boon to Newport residents who can't drive or don't have a vehicle. He said that in the past, when Newport had several department stores and a large hotel in the 1940s, traffic was heavier than it is now.
Bruhn said the proposed Derby site of WalMart would be "very unfortunate for downtown Newport" as it would draw people away from Newport and "will have a negative effect on other retailers in Derby."
Bruhn made his pitch to the Newport City Council about two years ago, he said, and he received a rather cool reception at the time.
I also sent the concept to WalMart but hasn't received much of a response yet.
City Mayor Paul Monette said he's a firm believer in a WalMart "but not in downtown Newport."
"I'm going to study these," he said of the conceptual drawings sent to him. "It's very interesting, but I don't see how it's going to work."
City Manager John Ward Jr. declined to comment about the idea.
Developer J.L. Davis, who is working on brining WalMart to Derby, had little good to say about the proposal.
"It's a cheap public relations ploy by Paul Bruhn," Davis said. "He did the same thing in St. Albans."
Davis, a developer who stressed he doesn't personally represent WalMart, said Bruhn knows the location is not acceptable.
Managing Editor Susan Davis contributed to this article.


WalMart and Gardner Park

August 15, 2012 by palberici (not verified), 2 years 14 weeks ago
Comment: 482

Let me weigh in on this one as a former Newport resident with family living in the City and as a current New Yorker, living with sprawl. It's not a well-kept secret that Newport and Orleans County are depressed areas that attract visitors but where residents find few jobs opportunities, especially those with upgrowth potential. I am willing to bet that what will pass for planning in the face of the promises WalMart makes about job opportunities, renewed business for area merchants and respect for the environment will break the hearts of more than one person in Newport. This is not a business for the downtown area, especially one that will destroy Gardiner Park or deface the downtown area.
And I doubt that the locals on the Planning Board are any match for WalMart planners and their attorneys.

I live in an area where you can trip over a WalMart every few miles. Their faceless cinder block buildings and immense parking lots are best left to an open area outside of the City. Yes, they have decent prices, will give a few people minimum wage jobs that will not provide enough to get people off public assistance, and will be a place for mindless shopping in aisles that are designed to help you fill your cart. Downtown will not flourish because the money flows into WalMart and then to Bentonville. And, yes, you will receive tax dollars from them and they will negotiate for a reduced rate for more years than anyone on the City Council has left in their lifespan and will never pay a full share.

I don't know who this Paul Bruhn is but his inflammatory rhetoric is detrimental to the health of the community and given without a plan for mitigating the damage to the downtown. Like Pommerleau, they would gladly destroy historic Gardner Park and create an eyesore for profit.

Sure, build a WalMart just not in the City limits. I understand places evolve, but this isn't urban renewal. It's wanton destruction.

Downtown will not flourish???

August 21, 2012 by tophtml (not verified), 2 years 13 weeks ago
Comment: 486

palberici, you say that the "Downtown will not flourish" with a WalMart (somewhere) in Newport???

I wouldn't say that too loudly in St. J or Littleton - One town will tar and feather you and the other one will laugh themselves into a coma.

WalMart in downtown Newport

April 13, 2012 by northernd (not verified), 2 years 32 weeks ago
Comment: 444

I think the location that is being proposed for a store the size of WalMart in the center of Newport is one of the worst and stupidest ideas that they could even think of. What is it, an idea created by the downtown business owners, or town selectmen who do not have a clue or what, (not naming anybody on Coventry Street)who are afraid they will lose money by having a WalMart in a better location. Wont that be really pretty, a large State building that is already ruining the landscape of downtown Newport, now lets put an even bigger eyesore to match it right across the street from it, what a joke. If you want business to improve in downtown Newport do not put another turd in the middle of town, Sincerely, from someone who thinks the town planners are a bunch of idiots if they allow it to happen, bye bye :(


March 14, 2012 by dlalime (not verified), 2 years 36 weeks ago
Comment: 441

Don't build a Walmart at Gardner Park. Walmart in Newport ok, but not Gardner Park.


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