ATWATER — This city's newest resident is a 125,000-square-foot planned Wal-Mart Supercenter, set to employ 300 full- and part-time workers.
Wal-Mart Stores Inc. has obtained 11 acres at 800 Commerce Ave. in Atwater through a deed filed in the Merced County recorder's office. The store will be next to a Super Target.
Wal-Mart had been looking at the property for some time and even filed a building permit with the city of Atwater in December. At that time, however, the land still was owned by The Home Depot U.S.A. Inc., which had planned to put one of its stores at the site, but pulled out when the economy fell into recession.
The deed didn't list the purchase price of the land, but the parcels have an assessed value of $7.6 million.
Amelia Neufeld, Wal-Mart's senior manager for public affairs for central California, said the store will have a full grocery, deli, bakery, pharmacy, an expanded and interactive electronics department, and an outdoor garden center.
"We are very excited to be able to bring a new Wal-Mart store to the Atwater community because we know customers are looking to stretch their dollar even further in these tough times," Neufeld said.
The company doesn't have a date to begin construction.
Wal-Mart stores typically open about 12 months after breaking ground, Neufeld said.
Atwater City Manager Greg Wellman said Wal-Mart and city experts estimate a few hundred jobs may be created by the construction of the store alone. Neufeld said Wal-Mart's average California pay rate is $12.07 an hour.
It may raise some eyebrows for Wal-Mart to build right next to a competitor's superbox store. Target officials didn't respond to requests for comment.
Wellman said the city's economic development experts firmly believe "business creates more business."
As for Super Target customers, several said Wednesday that they'd shop at both stores, depending on what they needed.
"I don't think it's going to hurt anybody," said Jose Zamudio, 36, of Atwater, his red cart loaded with Target items. "Maybe it'll be better for prices."