Daily Press 3/6/2008
JAMES CITY County/ Williamsburg Virginia - Wal-Mart, the nation's largest retailer, is coming to James City's growing New Town development, according to plans filed with county planning staff. The store of about 40,000square feet, while only about a fifth of the size of the other Wal-Mart in the area, still dominates plans for the Settler's Market section of New Town and sits at the junction of Route 199 and Monticello Avenue along with a planned Circuit City. Designs for both businesses have been carefully reviewed to make sure they keep to a countrified flavor, with brick facades and arched windows. Circuit City's 20,706 square foot store includes a cupola atop the building.
The Wal-Mart proposal is only a few administrative OKs away from final approval, including one pending from the James City Service Authority. But the approaching finish line comes after more than a year of work by county planners, with six to eight months spent on building elevations, said planner Matt Smolnik."This will not be your typical Wal-Mart," Smolnik said. A Wal-Mart spokeswoman declined to comment because the plans are not yet finalized.Settler's Market will also include dozens of other smaller businesses, but most of those tenants have yet to be publicly named. Trader Joe's grocery chain has been confirmed, however, and will be placed down Monticello Road. The upscale California-based grocery will take up roughly 12,000 square feet, or about the same area as the Trader Joe's that opened in Newport News in December 2005.All told, Settler's Market is expected to include 2,167 parking spaces and more than 200 homes. Construction is expected to be completed later this year.Though there is already a Wal-Mart in the Williamsburg area — the store farther north in York County's Lightfoot area ( near the Lowes, Home Depot, Ukrops and across from the new Hospital) is roughly 205,000 square feet — the retailer's arrival in New Town is expected to make the combined development of retail and homes even more of a popular destination.
New Town is currently home to local eateries such as Green Leafe Gourmet, Center Street Griil, Opus 9, and major chains including Panera Bread, Bonefish Grill, and Barnes and Noble Booksellers. When Circuit City sets up shop here, it will create a Williamsburg-area version of the national clash between the Richmond-based consumer electronics retailer and Best Buy, which is slated for The Marquis development in upper York County.( near Water Country) Best Buy is the country's top consumer electronics retailer; Circuit City is No. 2.Settler's Market, developed by Birmingham, Ala.-based AIG Baker Development, will ultimately include 350,000 square feet of retail and office combined with 210 residential flats and townhouses.