The Walmart Effect on Home Prices: Economists Say Home Prices Have Increased Near Stores


ABC News' Lincoln, Neb., affiliate, KLKN, reported the Walmart in Millwood's neighborhood was expected to open in the fall of 2013.

"That's what kind of burns us," he said. "The city of Lincoln would let Walmart build anywhere else in the city without telling them they need to build out there."

In a statement, Walmart said it has worked with the commmunity to address their concerns: "We've made it clear from day one that we want to come to the South Lincoln community the right way. That's why we selected a site that's had the proper zoning in place for a decade and is located among other commercial developments, including a hotel and auto dealership. Also, we're listening to neighbors and working towards solutions" about traffic flow and other matters.

Walmart's reception from neighbors and its effect on housing prices likely varies as much as the cities in which Walmart stores are based.

In Los Angeles, some groups have welcomed plans for a Walmart Neighborhood Market in Chinatown. The Asian Business Association and the Chinese Chamber of Commerce wrote a letter supporting the prospect of a store this year.

"For over 20 years, we have watched mainstream grocery retailers neglect the space beneath Grand Plaza," the organizations wrote in a letter dated June 11. "At 33,000 square feet, this space was designed specifically to provide our community with more fresh grocery options, yet no grocer was willing to invest. ... However, unions and special interest groups from outside of Chinatown are utilizing stall tactics to stop the store from being built and deny our community the benefits of an anchor retailer."

The pro-Walmart groups say workers could earn "competitive wages and benefits." In California, the average wage for regular, full-time hourly associates is $12.79 per hour, according to Walmart's website.

The Los Angeles Chinatown Business Council also wrote a letter of support for the proposed store.

A group, including the Los Angeles Alliance for a New Economy, Los Angeles County Federation of Labor and the Chinatown Coalition for Equitable Development, said the wages will be too low and they are organizing a protest against the store opening.

In urban Washington, D.C., there is no Walmart yet, but the city does have a number of other big box retailers, including Best Buy, Home Depot and Target. Six Walmart stores, however, have been proposed across the region, the first of which is expected to open by the end of 2013.

Mike Wilson, an organizer with DC Jobs with Justice, said he had concerns if housing prices do indeed rise near the planned stores, as the Pope brothers' report suggested.

"As far as housing prices go, D.C. is already an expensive city," he said. "There's concern about the affordability of retail workers living in D.C."

When Walmart decided to open stores in D.C., announcing in November 2010 the initial stage of its current plans, the retailer said it committed to understanding the communities where it hopes to do business. The company said, to date, it has participated in more than 200 community meetings and documented its commitment to "help stimulate economic development, expand access to affordable groceries and create quality jobs in the city."

Steven Restivo, a spokesman for Walmart, said the company's jobs are among the best in the retail industry, "offering competitive pay and benefits as well as the opportunity for advancement."

"For those reasons and more, over 300,000 of our U.S. associates have been with the company for more than 10 years," he said.

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