Wal-Mart Neighborhood Markets still on track

WICHITA — Wal-Mart’s plans to bring its Neighborhood Market concept to Wichita are still progressing, but there don’t appear to be any done deals yet.

“We’re still under contract,” says Chris Goebel of Star Lumber.

Goebel hopes to sell his property at Central and Maize where he once planned the Gaslight Creek commercial development on more than 11 acres.

“We’ve had to do some extensions,” Goebel says of the contract.

That’s because there’s “a wee little bit of an environmental issue.”

Goebel says there are leaking underground storage tanks on another site — not his — that are of concern.

“We’re working on dealing with that,” he says. “It’s just unfortunate.”

But he doesn’t expect it to be a long-term problem.

“I feel pretty comfortable that we are probably going to make this happen,” Goebel says. “I’ve got a few weeks to get this pulled off.”

Over at Normandie Center at Central and Woodlawn, management put out an e-mail to tenants who expressed concern about a possible Neighborhood Wal-Mart coming to the former Star Lumber site there.

“They have been very popular in Kansas City,” the e-mail says of Neighborhood Markets, noting that the stores don’t have the traditional Wal-Mart “feel” and are smaller and more upscale.

If the store does come, the e-mail says, a few merchants on that end of the center will have to relocate.

But management says that Pathfinders Birkenstock, Perfect Nails, the Seafood Shop, Best of Times and all merchants west of there will stay where they are.

Wal-Mart has considered several other Wichita sites for its Neighborhood Markets, but there’s no word on how close the deals are.