Mixed emotions in Southfield over potential Walmart Supercenter

Southfield Planning Commission considers Walmart Supercenter at vacant lot near 12 Mile, Southfield roads

By Lauren Podell - Reporter

SOUTHFIELD, Mich. - Residents in a Southfield neighborhood have mixed emotions.

What was once a community church now is a vacant lot and not everyone is happy to hear a Walmart Supercenter is looking to move in.

Some residents in the area worried about the lighting and traffic.

"It's gonna be huge so it just depends on what they're going to do to help the community also," said Pete Flannery, who lives nearby.

Church of St. Bede, which stands on the lot, was not only where Flannery went to church and school but it's also nearly part of his own backyard. While it is overgrown and empty, Flannery thinks a 24-hour Walmart would make the already-busy area busier.

"It's gonna be so congested there in that area. It's one of the worst traffic (areas), you know, at 12 Mile and Southfield, ever," Flannery said.

The Southfield Planning Commission held a public meeting Wednesday night during which they alerted the public that the northwest corner of 12 Mile and Southfield roads could become the future site of the Supercenter. Local businesses already are bracing themselves for the possible new neighbor.

St. Bede Catholic Church, now closed, still stands on the lot

Related: Woman: Former St. Bede school basketball coach molested her when she was student

"Time to time people will change. Of course, due to hard times and money. You know, to save a dollar here or there, people will go other places. But it's about the service that we have here," said Raven Dabish, owner of Vintage Village.

Technically, the church property is in a residential zone. But if City Council approves a commercial rezoning, residents can expect to find more shopping carts in 2014.

"They think they're gonna generate tax money, jobs, revenue for the city, but also gotta think that one big box store will affect dozens and dozens of small stores," said Dabish.

The Planning Commission will go before City Council on Dec. 3. A lot must happen before Walmart can break ground. They have to do a site plan and the rezoning must be approved. Residents may be able to live without the Walmart for a while longer.

The city's planning manager said they are considering not allowing the Walmart to be a 24-hour store.

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