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City probes Walmart rumors

December 20, 2012

WOONSOCKET — Another unconfirmed report that Walmart is bidding on a “supercenter” project on Diamond Hill Road has prompted the city to ask the Bentonville, Ark.-based retail giant for clarification.
“It is my sincere hope that if and when you find yourself in a position to be able to comment to me about Walmart’s plans, you will take the opportunity to do so and have an internally consistent message conveyed by the city to support your own,” wrote Economic Development Director Matthew Wojcik on Thursday.
The letter was sent to Walmart Senior Manager of Public Affairs and Government Relations Christopher Buchanan.
The rumor-mill started churning again after radio station WNRI reported that a specialty web site for construction contractors, Reed Construction Data, indicates that Walmart is soliciting bids for a $7.5 million, 180,000-square-foot supercenter at 1919 Diamond Hill Road. Another trade site, McGraw-Hill Construction Network, carried similar bid details several months ago, but Walmart later disavowed any connection to the information.
The company’s official position hasn’t changed, Buchanan told The Call.
“I can tell you we have no plans for Woonsocket,” he said via e-mail.
Walmart operated a traditional retail store at 1919 Diamond Hill Road for over a decade, but it closed the site in September 2011, the day after opening a new supercenter in Dowling Village in North Smithfield. It was the first, and still is, the only operating store in the sprawling Eddie Dowling Highway plaza, but that is expected to change soon when Lowe’s Home Improvement Warehouse opens in early 2013. An Aldi discount supermarket is also in the works.

Read more in our print edition.

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