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‘Big box' store may find home in E.C.

rumor is it's Wal-Mart

September 14, 2001|By RUDY YNIGUEZ, Staff Writer

Business continues to expand or look for a new home in the city of El Centro as a "big box" store is reportedly looking for a potential location here.

Oscar Rodriquez, city director of economic development, said he is not at liberty to mention the name of the business.

"Yes, we are dealing with some large big boxes," he said Thursday.

Rumors are that the business is Wal-Mart, continuing its efforts to locate a Super Wal-Mart in the Imperial Valley.

El Centro Mayor Cheryl Walker said Wal-Mart continues to look for a location "south of Interstate 8."

"Wal-Mart in general is looking to put a big-box somewhere in southern Imperial County," Walker said, adding that the retailer has been looking for such a location for three or four years. "There are no definitive plans for them to locate here."

Wal-Mart spokesman Bob McAdam said it is not true that the company is looking to locate a super center in El Centro.

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"We have no plans for any super center in the state of California at this time," he said Thursday.

When asked about the company's efforts in Calexico, McAdam denied the efforts were on the company's behalf and said perhaps the developer was looking to expand the store and sell the idea to Wal-Mart.

Efforts by Wal-Mart to leave the door open for the possible expansion of its Calexico store, which would include more grocery-type items, drew resistance from other retailers.

The Calexico City Council eventually approved a citywide ordinance limiting any store of more than 150,000 square feet to no more than 7.5 percent of floor space to non-taxable items.

Residents, led by Wal-Mart employees, responded by gathering signatures to force a vote on the ordinance in March.

Meanwhile, Cellular One — formerly Centennial Wireless — will open a retail outlet in the former Winchell's Donuts House at 700 N. Imperial Ave.

"They just want a storefront presence on Imperial Avenue," Walker said.

Cellular One officials did not return a call seeking comment.

Staff Writer Rudy Yniguez can be reached at 337-3440.

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