SPRINGFIELD, Mo. - In his 20 years of doing business, Doug Smart's neighborhood has seen better days.
"As things go downhill people don't want to be around that," stated Smart, owner of Smart Buy Tire on Campbell Ave.
Next door to his shop is a dilapidated, vacant Pizza Hut. Then, there's the largely unused Calvary Temple church property which is sprouting weeds; the temple itself is sporting boarded windows.
A blessing of another kind, for some, could soon occupy the intersection of Grand St. and Campbell Ave.
Walmart hopes to build its fifth Neighborhood Market grocery store in Springfield on the site.
"I think it is going to help our community. I really do. It is going to help spruce things up," Smart stated.
In the past year, Walmart has opened grocery stores on W. Republic Rd., on S. Glenstone Ave. In just the last 30 days alone, the company had grand openings for locations on El Camino Alto near Campbell Ave., and on West Bypass at Mount Vernon St.
The retailer is now in serious negotiations with the church, owner of the old pizza place, and at least seven homeowners for the land needed to build the store.
Walmart has also submitted plans to the City requesting a zoning change so it can build its store. The site is currently zoned for "residential. It would have to be re-zoned to "general retail" before the store could be constructed.
The plans come on the heels of Hy-vee announcing it wants to build a second store, on East Sunshine. It's a proposal that's met a lot of opposition from neighbors.
So far, opponents of Wal-Mart's plan have been a lot less vocal. However, Doug Smart knows not everyone is as thrilled as he is.
"I know we do have a lot of grocery stores in Springfield. And, it is kind of like Chinese chicken or gas stations. Every you go to you are going to find them."