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Tuesday 14 May 2002

Wal-Mart, Reston Town Center, and ‘upscale’ housing


In today’s Washington Post, there’s a story about people living in a fancy neighborhood who are upset that Wal-Mart plans to build a store near them. The story reads:

Fearing thousands more cars each day on their roads and 24-hour noise and light pollution, residents say they feel betrayed by a developer who promised them a Reston Town Center on the shores of the Potomac.

While I feel sympathy for the people involved — I wouldn’t want a Wal-Mart too close to my $700,000 house, either — I think this is a strange comparison.

I live about a mile from Reston Town Center, and while it’s picturesque, it leaves something to be desired.

It’s impossible to buy nearly anything in Reston, VA after 10:00 or 11:00 at night. All that’s open in a Taco Bell and a few convenience stores. And there are a lot of things that are just plain unobtainable in Reston, at any hour. Reston is more picturesque than a lot of suburbs, but also less convenient.

Having to drive a few miles (and you must drive, of course) to buy certain things is not the worst affliction in the world, but having made too many late-night trips to the nearest all-night drug store (8 miles away: actually an improvement, as the nearest one used to be about 15 miles away), I can personally attest that, for all of Wal-Mart’s tackiness, there’s something to be said for a store nearby that sells nearly everything and that’s open all the time.

Posted by tino at 15:30 14.05.02
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There was actually a documentery on PBS in the last month or two entitled “Store Wars” all about a VA town trying to keep Wal-Mart out. The failed. I suspectthe folks in Southbridge will also fail.

And honestly Tino driving 8 miles isn’t that great a hardship.

Posted by: Paul Johnson at May 16, 2002 11:51 PM

Another article to look at in regards to Wal-Mart is How Wal-Mart is Remaking our World (http://www.alternet.org/story.html?StoryID=12962)

Posted by: Paul M Johnson at May 16, 2002 11:56 PM

Driving eight miles isn’t that much of a hardship, I agree, but it has to be looked at in context.

Reston is a town of about 70,000 people; and outside its borders isn’t just empty farmland, either. If you call ‘Restonia’ Reston plus the surrounding mile or two, you wind up with an area containing over 100,000 people and at least a dozen pharmacies. Not one of those pharmacies is open past 11 pm.

It just strikes me as odd that, in one of the wealthiest areas in the United States, it’s so (relatively) difficult to spend money.

Posted by: Tino at May 17, 2002 10:17 AM