SheÂ fought against a Wal-Mart moving into the Hogtown Creek-area over environmental concerns, but according to Jeannette Hinsdale, the Northeast 12th Avenue and Waldo Road location is a good fit for a new Wal-Mart Supercenter.
"This is what the community wanted," Hinsdale said. "This is what the people wanted."
There were reservations about the "retail giant" building another store in Gainesville, but officials and residents said they now consider it a giant step forward for Plan East Gainesville.
"The pros will outweigh the cons," Duval-area resident Juanita Miles Hamilton said. "Traffic will be an issue, but I think we will work through it, and I'm sure that the city will work with us."
Gainesville Mayor Pegeen Hanrahan said there were concerns, but the majority of residents in the neighborhood expressed support for the project.
"We had a meeting at the Duval Elementary School, and there was a show of hands of how many people were supportive and how many people were against," Hanrahan said. "I would say it was more than 80 percent for the project, and that to me is what's really important."
For many, it is not just about having a new shopping center in Gainesville, it is what Wal-Mart brings with it.
"Jobs, jobs, jobs," Hamilton exclaimed.
Three-hundred fifty to 400 jobs are expected when the retailer opens its doors, and that is part of the reason, some consider this project a prime example of "responsible growth."
"This is exactly what the county needs at this point," Kim Davidson of the Coalition for Responsible Growth said. "This helps with the redevelopment of East Gainesville. It helps keep the growth where we need it."
The "price rollbacks" are not likely to begin until next January or February when the store is ready to open, but officials said they can already envision other shops, including dry cleaners and banks, moving in to the area.
Hinsdale said she hopes their expectations come true:
"I hope this opens doors for other people to get loans and start other businesses on the East Side too."
By Ted Latiak, WCJB TV20 News.
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