Though Walmart officials or their representatives rarely discuss future plans, documents submitted to the city of Bradenton spell out what it wants to add to their store at 5315 Cortez Road W.
Walmart has applied for a special use permit to build a gas station and convenience store on the store's existing property. The proposal, to go before the city's planning commission June 20, comes on the heels of a new liquor store that recently opened.
Though there are two exit/entry points into the store's parking lot, anyone who shops there knows the difficulty of getting in and out of the property given that Cortez Road is one of the busiest streets in the area. That raises concerns for even those who shop there now.
"It's a nice idea, but I don't think they are thinking about the traffic through here now, which is already difficult to get in and out of here," said Jessica Dudon. "Traffic is already a huge issue around here and I don't how this can help."
Walmart used to partner with Murphy's, but now brands its own gasoline and tends to run a few cents cheaper than other gas stations.
Zephyrhills-based Cornelison Engineering & Design Inc, is the agent representing Walmart in the special use application. CEO Craig Cornelison declined to comment under Walmart's policy of not discussing plans with the media.
"I think it's good to have that kind of convenience," said Marjorie Wilson. "My husband and I are retired, so I think it will actually help traffic if some of us can just get it all done in one place rather than having to shop and then drive some more to find a gas station."
Between 26th and 75th streets west alone, there are five gas stations and the Walmart location will make it six. In February of 2017, WaWa announced it would build a store at 2501 Cortez Road W. and site preparation has begun.
"I get why they want to do it here, with this road being heavily traveled by tourists to the island," Dudon said. "But at some point, these companies need to think about the people who live here 365 days a year and do something that benefits us. Again, I like the idea, but it's not reality and more hurtful to our traffic issues, which becomes a safety issue at some point. It's really difficult to get in and out of here as it is."
For Mickey Wilson, he disagrees with his wife that it's a good idea.
"Look at these cars lining up trying to get out," he said. "It's non stop. Look, I don't know anyone who wakes up and says, 'Hurray, I get to go to Walmart today.' Everyone likes the convenience and it tends to be economical, but convenience has to include being able to get into the parking lot. And where are they are going to put it? It's 1 p.m. on a Tuesday and you can barely find a parking space. I say, 'No thanks.'"