Reacting to word that owners of the Sciortino property at Brentwood Boulevard and Sand Creek Road – the site of last month’s Brentwood CornFest – were conducting talks with Walmart, residents voiced their objections during the public comment period at Tuesday’s council meeting. Chris Flores accused Walmart of a litany of objectionable business practices, ranging from low wages, under-representation of women in management positions, and destroying competitors by undercutting their prices.
“This is very concerning,” he said. “Walmart is not a fit for this community.”
City manager designate Paul Eldredge said that although no formal application had been received, the property has already been approved for a big-box store, and discussions about possible tenants have included Costco and Target as well as Walmart. According to comments made by current City Manager Donna Landeros at a Chamber of Commerce event last week, however, Costco has opted out of coming to Brentwood so as not to interfere with sales at stores in Antioch and Tracy. Target has shown some renewed interest in coming to Brentwood, although other sites within the city are also being scrutinized.
Eldredge confirmed that talks between the property owners and Walmart are ongoing, but added that it’s premature to say it will be Walmart that occupies the location.
“Until we see a sign on the building, nothing is for certain,” Eldredge said. Either way, he said, the decision as to which tenant is eventually chosen is not up to the city.
Because the property has already been approved for a big-box retailer, the issue will not need to come back to the City Council unless a modification is needed to the conditions already approved, Eldredge said. If an application is brought forward, it will only need design review approval from the Planning Commission. Any appeal of the Planning Commission’s decision either way, however, would come before the council.
Resident Donna Spencer expressed concerned about what a Walmart would do to a downtown area currently in the final stages of a multi-million dollar overhaul that includes a new civic center and downtown streetscape.
“Walmart would eat the downtown alive,” Spencer said. “It doesn’t make sense.”
The city should be supportive of small businesses, she added, and not approve competition that could turn the city into a “Walmartized leviathan that eats its own.”
Representative of the property owners could not be reached for this story.