As it prepares to fight a legal challenge to its proposed store in Burbank, Wal-Mart Stores Inc. on Wednesday confirmed reports that it plans to open a Wal-Mart this fall in a vacated Mervyns at West Covina’s Eastland Shopping Center.
The Bentonville, Ark. retailer this week began interviewing applicants at an office near the shopping center for what eventually will be 150 jobs at the two-story, 120,000-square-foot space, which has been vacant since Mervyns went out of business more than three years ago.
“The new Wal-Mart will be a great addition to the Eastland Shopping Center,” said West Covina Mayor Mike Touhey in a Wal-Mart news release. “Not only will the Wal-Mart backfill a valuable position at the shopping center, but also create local jobs and provide the city with critical sales tax revenue.”
Wal-Mart typically has a tough time expanding in Los Angeles County, with organized labor and neighborhood groups often joining to fight the company’s proposal to build stores. The company last year began focusing on opportunities in existing retail spaces vacated by other retailers. Such spaces are more likely to require only routine permits, making the effort much simpler. A Wal-Mart is set to open next month at a former Mervyns in Torrance.
But the big box retailer has met resistance in these cases too. Citing traffic mitigation concerns, a Los Angeles Superior Court judge last week issued a preliminary injunction stopping renovation of a closed Great Indoors home furnishings store at Burbank’s Empire Center where a Wal-Mart Supercenter is planned. Also, the Los Angeles City Council is considering a downtown ban that would affect Wal-Mart, in response to furor over a smaller Wal-Mart Neighborhood Market grocery set to open in a renovated space on the edge of Chinatown.
West Covina opponents to the Wal-Mart there have protested at City Council meetings, according to news reports, but no legal action has been announced.