It took nearly a decade and a legal fight to accomplish, but Walmart has realized its plan to bring a second supercenter to Raynham.
The retail giant recently held a grand opening for its new 152,000-square-foot supercenter, located next to the Market Basket on Route 138 and across town from Walmart’s existing approximately 200,000-square-foot supercenter on Route 44.
With the opening of the new store, which offers a full line of groceries in addition to general merchandise and a pharmacy, Raynham becomes the first Massachusetts community to host two Walmart supercenters, according to the Arkansas-based firm.
First proposed in 2005, the project faced years of delay, primarily due to an unsuccessful lawsuit that Demoulas, the parent company of Market Basket, filed to contest the Planning Board’s approval of the project.
“We are really pleased that after a very long process, we are finally open with a second store in Raynham, and we are looking forward to serving the community with even greater convenience,” Walmart spokesman Bill Wertz said in an interview.
Some work is not finished because of delays caused by poor weather. But the project was close enough to completion that officials granted Walmart a 30-day occupancy permit, allowing the store to open while the firm carries out such remaining work as landscaping and final paving, according to John Charbonneau, Raynham’s director of planning and development.
Residents and some town officials over the years have voiced concerns that the store could add to traffic congestion on Route 138, and some have questioned the need for a second Walmart in town.
But Joseph R. Pacheco, the chairman of the Board of Selectmen and one who previously spoke against the project, said he now welcomes it because of the boost it will give to area employment. Walmart says the store will employ about 300 full- and part-time employees.
“We need jobs in our region — whatever type of jobs there might be — and Walmart is creating 300 of them,” he said.
Charbonneau said that the store seems to be getting a positive reception. He said a series of traffic improvements that Walmart has undertaken appears to be working well.
“Right now, I think people are pleased with it,” he said. “It was a very long process to get here and it’s had its share of snags, but I think people are glad to see it finally come to fruition.”
In addition to jobs, town officials say, the project will mean more annual tax revenue for Raynham — no figures are yet available, but Pacheco estimated it at more than $100,000 — and an overall boost to the local economy.
“I think it’s a plus whenever you have an investment that causes people to come to Raynham or stay in Raynham to spend money,” Charbonneau said.
The store opening comes as a town committee is preparing zoning changes for the fall Town Meeting that would encourage growth but respect the needs of businesses and settled neighborhoods. The aim is to spur projects that integrate residential and business uses along the 2.15-mile corridor from the Taunton line to Interstate 495.
“The general consensus is that people are hesitant to see Route 138 developed along the same lines as Route 44 has been,” Charbonneau said, noting that Route 44 “is designed for large-scale development, whereas Route 138 is not.”
Charbonneau said the Walmart store — whose approvals predated the planning effort — does not in itself impede that vision but the town would not want to see a sprawl of big-box stores there.
Officials note that the project will bring other benefits to the town. Walmart committed through the approval process to traffic improvements that include installing traffic lights at four intersections — three are now in place with one still to be done — realigning an intersection, road widening, and sidewalk construction, according to Charbonneau.
The firm also provided the town with funding for a new well in north Raynham, to help purchase a firetruck, to extend a sewer line, and to construct a new sewer pumping station.
Additionally, the opening of the new store will mean more donations by Walmart to the Raynham community. Wertz said each Walmart store has its own budget for contributions to support local needs, and that store employees volunteer in the community. At the recent ribbon-cutting, the firm announced an initial $7,000 in donations to local organizations.
Wertz said it not uncommon for Walmart to have several stores in the same community, and even two supercenters, which offer a full line of groceries.
“Our customers really tell us that they are pressed for time and sometimes even driving across town is an inconvenience to them,” he said. “We want to have locations where they meet our customers’ needs.”
Wertz said the company is confident that its new store at 160 Broadway, which is open daily from 6 a.m. to 11 p.m., will not have a negative impact on its existing one.
“Our experience has been that not only does the old store continue to do well and the new store do well, but customers have a better shopping experience because they can choose which store to go to,” he said.