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Walmart set to start construction of Orange County store
The Walmart will be built on A&K Boulevard near the intersection of State Route 3 and Somerset Ridge Road.
DAN McFARLAND/THE FREE LANCE-STAR
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Date published: 6/18/2012
After years of planning, controversy and compromise, the new Orange County Walmart Supercenter will open next June, company officials estimate.
A groundbreaking ceremony for the store is planned for 10 a.m. Tuesday north of State Route 3 at the intersection of Somerset Ridge Road.
Joining Walmart representatives will be House of Delegates Speaker Bill Howell of Stafford County and members of the Orange County Board of Supervisors, including Grover Wilson, whose District 5 includes the site, as well as District 4's Lee Frame, who, as previous board chairman worked extensively with representatives of the retail giant during the earlier site selection and permit process.
Walmart's earlier plan to build a 138,000-square-foot store northwest of the intersection of Routes 3 and 20 in the Wilderness battlefield area met with vocal opposition from the National Park Service, preservation groups, historians and legislators.
Friends of Wilderness Battlefield and six local residents filed a lawsuit challenging supervisors' approval of a special-use permit to build on the site.
As the trial of that lawsuit was getting under way in January last year, Walmart announced it would preserve that property and seek a new site along the Route 3 corridor. The company purchased the original site for $3.5 million and reimbursed Orange County $717,000 for its costs in the case.
Four months later, it announced plans to build a 129,000-square-foot store on 16 acres of county resident Mansour Azimipour's Germanna Heights development along Route 3, four miles west of the original site.
Walmart said the National Trust for Historic Preservation, the Civil War Trust, the Piedmont Environmental Council and the Friends of Wilderness Battlefield all reviewed the new site and "agreed it is appropriate for economic development and will not diminish the experience of visitors to the nearby Civil War Wilderness battlefield."
The timeline from groundbreaking to store opening normally takes about one year, Walmart's East Coast Director of Community and Media Relations William Wertz said recently.