Walmart selling Zionsville site for $7.5M despite winning court fight

After fighting with the town of Zionsville for more than 10 years, Walmart has decided it won’t build a store on Michigan Road and is putting the property on the market at an asking price of $7.5 million.

The Bentonville, Arkansas-based retailer filed plans in 2006 to construct a store on a 22-acre site along Michigan Road between 106th Street and Bennett Parkway, but town officials repeatedly denied the retailer’s proposals.

Wal-Mart Stores Inc. filed multiple lawsuits against the town to fight the decisions from the Zionsville Plan Commission, and the case was finally resolved in 2016 after a judge ruled in favor of the retailer.

Zionsville did not appeal the decision, and in July 2016, the town's plan commission approved Walmart’s initial proposal from 2006.

At the time of the legal victory, Walmart declined to say whether it still planned to construct a store on the site. Now the property is up for sale.

“After much deliberation and consideration of several business factors, we have decided not to pursue development of a new store in Zionsville,” Walmart spokeswoman Anne Hatfield said in an email. “Since our original proposal, our customers’ needs have evolved and we are focused on improving our existing stores to meet the changing needs of our customers as well as new innovations to simplify how our customers shop.”

Potential buyers of the property face development restrictions. A letter of intent posted with the property listing on Walmart’s real estate website says uses such as discount stores larger than 8,000 square feet, grocery stores, pharmacies, gas stations, movie theaters, bowling alleys, or spa or fitness center larger than 3,000 square feet would not be allowed.

The letter of intent also specifies that the land can’t be used for adult video stores, pawn shops, bars, night clubs, any place of recreation or amusement or any business whose primary revenues come from alcohol. The restrictions would be in effect for 50 years.

A Zionsville spokeswoman said the town had no comment. Walmart has not filed plans for a store elsewhere in the town.

Stan Evans, president RSE Realty Inc., said retail might not be the best use for the property anymore, at least not big-box retail.

“It’s easier for me to see smaller scale retail on the front half of the site and something else on the back, but it’s not really priced that way,” Evans said.

The legal battle between Zionsville and Walmart started in 2006 when the big-box retailer sued in response to the plan commission's denial of its initial proposal for a 300,000-square-foot shopping center anchored by a Walmart Supercenter.

Special Judge Steve Nation ruled in favor of Walmart in 2008 and ordered the commission to review the project again under stricter guidelines. But the commission denied the request again, which prompted a new lawsuit filed by Walmart in June 2008.

Nation ruled in May 2016 that the commission wrongly rejected a request from Walmart to build a store in 2008 and that the advisory body ignored previous court instructions regarding the giant retailer’s initial plans submitted in 2006.

That decision required the commission to approve Walmart’s proposal from 2006.

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