My commercial real estate guy passed this one along  — he says it’s a solid tip, though it’s just that. Nothing has been confirmed yet.

He has been told that Wal-Mart and developer Trammell Crow want to put a Wal-Mart on top of a Sam’s Club on the 44-acre apartment complex property. Timbercreek is located at the intersection of Skillman and Northwest Highway, and was the subject of a contentious 2006 zoning battle between Crow and the apartment’s residents.

If this is true, it raises several disturbing questions:


The council, which voted almost unanimously to OK the deal, threw a couple of thousand people out of their homes to build a Wal-Mart. Which would be across the street from a SuperTarget. Which is down the street from another Target. Which is just 10 minutes away from a Sam’s Club and Wal-Mart Supercenter at Northwest Highway and Garland Road. Highest and best use is one thing, but how many discount stores do we need around here?

• Crow, according to several real estate types I talked to, had to have an agreement with an anchor tenant when it asked for the zoning change. This is a multi-million dollar deal, too big to do on spec. Which means the developer was at best disingenuous when it told the council it didn’t have a retail tenant in hand. If Crow had told the council it wanted to throw a couple of thousand people out of their homes to build a Wal-Mart which would be across the street from a SuperTarget which is down the street from another Target which is just 10 minutes away from a Sam’s Club and Wal-Mart Supercenter, the council might have had second thoughts. Or one likes to hope so, anyway.

• Typically, a Sam’s Club is 110,000 to 130,000 square feet, and a Wal-Mart is 107,000 square feet. This is a 2 million-square-foot property. So why does it want to build up instead of out? How much development does Crow want to cram on that site? What other zoning changes related to parking and density will it ask for? What will all that development do to traffic there, already a mess during morning and evening rush hours?

• This can’t be good news for the proposed Lake Highlands Town Center, especially if Crow plans more than a couple of fast food restaurants and discount shoe stores on pad sites on the property. The original plan OK’d by the council mentioned high-end townhomes. Throw those in there, and this site is directly competing with the town center, with the added bonus of a Wal-Mart anchor.

• What did Wal-Mart — if this is indeed Wal-Mart going in — do to deserve such a sweetheart real estate deal? Apparently, it owns the land under its Park Lane Sam’s Club. Coincidentally, that part of Greenville Avenue will soon be worth a fortune, courtesy of the forthcoming Park Lane Place development. In other words, Wal-Mart gets to sell its Park Lane land (which has increased in appraised value by almost a third since 1999), pocket the cash, and get a better location, all without breaking a sweat.