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Posted at 4:05 PM ET, 01/26/2011

Could Civil War link endanger Ward 4 Wal-Mart?

By Mike DeBonis


Stunning news out of the Commonwealth of Virginia today: Wal-Mart has given up on building a store in Orange County, on the site of the Battle of the Wilderness.

The decision means a coalition of preservation groups, led by the Civil War Trust, the National Trust for Historic Preservation and others, triumphed against hard odds in a contest with the world's largest retailer and local officials who wanted the accompanying tax dollars and jobs.

The news might buck up opponents of at least one of the four proposed Wal-Marts in the District, who thus far have failed to rally much support for their cause.

That's because one of the planned stores, on Georgia Avenue NW, is essentially across the street from historic Fort Stevens, a key part of the Civil War defenses of Washington and the site of the Battle of Fort Stevens, a July 1864 Confederate raid famous for being personally witnessed by President Abraham Lincoln.

Last year, the Civil War Trust included Fort Stevens in its list of the nation's 10 most endangered Civil War sites for a second time, citing imminent development threats.

Today a labor-backed group rallied at the John A. Wilson Building hoping to convince lawmakers to put strict restrictions on Wal-Mart before allowing them to do business. But even reliable labor supporters are finding it hard to brush off the thousands of jobs the corporation is offering. But the Georgia Avenue location, unlike the others, has seen a decent amount of neighborhood skepticism.

So perhaps the trust and other preservationists will go to bat to keep low, low prices away from the location of Confederate Gen. Jubal Early's daring assault, now located at 13th and Quackenbos streets NW.

Or will they?

Mary Koik, a spokeswoman for the trust (and, full disclosure, a longtime personal friend), said the battlefield is indeed a national treasure and a high priority for the group.

But it's difficult comparing Fort Stevens, already long since surrounded by residential and commercial development, to the Wilderness site -- in a largely rural area just outside the bounds of a national historical park.

"It's something we have not yet weighed in on," Koik said.

Photo by Ricky Carioti/The Washington Post

By Mike DeBonis  | January 26, 2011; 4:05 PM ET
Categories:  The District  
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If DC needs a Walmart so much put it in near Connecticut or Wisconsin or in Georgetown!!! None of those locations have ever been discussed -- and why because they are predominantly white,wealthy areas who don't want it. Walmart has not been a great career track for any communities, but an exploiter of poor people in poor communities. There is bus service to these white areas of DC so put them in those communities instead of in upper NW where you have established lower and middle class African Americans living and working in better paying jobs with real career paths instead of low income, part-time low wages with a company that has an extremely high turnover of its part-time low wage earning jobs. Are the African American residents of DC going to allow this mass exploitation of their community and its workers by WalMart -- God I certainly hope not. This will not improve the employment status for most low income, unemployed workers because they will not be retained and the endless high turnover of Walmart's low wage, part-time employees will only continue because of the high cost of living in the DC area. The cost of transportation to and from work, along with rent and food is so high the minimum wage jobs won't help these workers only serve to frustrate them even more than they already are. Walmart DOES NOT PAY A LIVING WAGE TO THE MAJORITY OF ITS EMPLOYEES WHO ARE PART-TIME SO IT WILL NOT BENEFIT DC OR ITS UNEMPLOYED CITIZENS. DON'T BE FOOLED BY THESE PROMISES -- let them be honest about their turnover rate and the opportunities for advancement.

Posted by: hotezzy | January 26, 2011 7:51 PM | Report abuse

It is so embarrassing to see Black people begging the oppressor to come into the city to oppress them further with low, slave wage jobs. Are we the only ones to act this way? :(

Posted by: 424me | January 26, 2011 11:31 PM | Report abuse

Building near a historic site isn't the same as building on one.

Isn't this one more newsworthy?

Posted by: pocky | January 27, 2011 1:49 PM | Report abuse

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