Retail Expert: Replacing Brooklyn Center Walmart Will Be ‘A Tough Transition’
Sept. 23, 2011, was a day filled with optimism for Brooklyn Center city leaders, as ground was broken on the new Shingle Creek Crossing shopping center.
The site of the former Brookdale mall was a blank canvas, and the news of Walmart going in its place left developers and city officials with high hopes for the future.
“We’re looking at rejuvenating Brooklyn Center and starting that redevelopment over and building the city up again,” said former Brooklyn Center Mayor Tim Willson in 2011. “And this is just the start.”
For a while, it worked. As other major retailers such as T.J. Maxx, Michael’s and Discount Tire filled the storefronts surrounding Walmart.
“This is an up and coming area, it’s right on Highway 100, it’s a good location,” said Michael’s manager Lynn Thompson in 2015. “And as you can see, it’s grown a lot here and Michael’s was happy to jump in.”
Today, Discount Tire and Michael’s are no longer open (Michael’s was replaced by Burlington in 2022).
This week, Walmart announced its impending closure due to “underperformance in recent years.” Brooklyn Center city officials described the news as “devastating” and a “major economic loss.”
‘Walmart closing is not a trivial thing’
“This is going to be a tough transition,” said University of Minnesota Carlson School of Management professor George John. “I would not underplay that. A Walmart closing is not a trivial thing.”
John says that unlike other major retailers, a closure of Walmart is an unusual occurrence.
“The city has tried very hard, but I think it’s very hard to overcome, sort of local things,” John said.
Those local things include crime and theft. Brooklyn Center police say Walmart is the city’s No. 1 spot with calls for service, with nearly 6,177 calls over the last five years.
The spot with the second most calls for service during that same time span is the Super 8 Hotel, with 3,270 calls.
Yet while city leaders say that losing Walmart is an undeniable setback, they’ll continue the work of bringing in new development.
Exactly what that looks like remains to be seen.
“The good thing is, real estate developers are endlessly creative,” said John. “So we’ll see things happening there that we can’t even envision today. I don’t know what it’s going to be, but it’s going to be most likely some kind of mixed-use development.”
The Brooklyn Center Walmart employed nearly 350 people. The store says it will work to place those staff members at other locations.
Response from Walmart
Officials from Walmart say the decision was not made lightly. In a statement to CCX News, a spokesperson said that Walmart has nearly 5,000 stores across the U.S. and some do not meet their financial expectations. While the company’s underlying business is strong, the Brooklyn Center store hasn’t performed as well as they had hoped.
“We are grateful to the customers who have given us the privilege of serving them at our Brooklyn Center location,” said Robert Arrieta, a senior manager for Walmart media relations. “We look forward to serving them at our other stores in the surrounding communities and on walmart.com.”
Walmart has five Supercenters within 13 miles of the Brooklyn Center location.
Arrieta says Walmart owns the property at Shingle Creek Crossing and the facility will be re-evaluated for use at a later date.
Related: Burlington Opens at Shingle Creek Crossing in Brooklyn Center