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Steady Wal-Mart growth, Kmart woes worry Layton

Officials wonder if city has a glut of retail space

SHARE Steady Wal-Mart growth, Kmart woes worry Layton

LAYTON — Kmart's financial woes and Wal-Mart's steady growth have Layton city planners concerned.

Because the city is home to four national chain discount retail stores, Layton officials are looking at what a bankrupt Kmart and bigger Wal-Mart will do to its economy.

Wal-Mart is hoping to turn its Layton store into a Wal-Mart Super Center. It has presented preliminary plans to Layton and is waiting for approval from the city to go ahead with the project.

Layton officials have decided to investigate whether the city is overbuilt in discount retail space.

With the national Kmart Corp. filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, city leaders are looking to see what impact a possible store closure by the Layton Kmart would have on the city's economic landscape.

"It would be difficult to fill that big box," said Seth Butterfield, Layton's economic development director.

With a Shopko and a Target Super Center in town in addition to Wal-Mart and Kmart, Layton has its share of discount retail space. Wal-Mart's application to expand has Butterfield wondering how much discount-retail space the city can support, and whether a new Super Wal-Mart would push Kmart over the edge.

Butterfield said Wal-Mart's application doesn't have to address whether its expansion would overbuild the city's retail area. But he did say it's something the city wants to look at before it gives final approval — approval that Butterfield said was likely.

Amy Hill, a spokeswoman for Wal-Mart's corporate office, said the last thing Wal-Mart is worried about is competition from the other retailers in the area. She said there's no real concern with the area being overbuilt.

"Competition is good for the consumer," she said. Because Super Wal-Marts include grocery stores, there's more competition with grocery retailers in the area than other stores, she said.

Ben Farquharson, a manager at Layton's Target Super Center, said Target and Wal-Mart are different stores and attract different customers.

"(A new Wal-Mart) doesn't really worry us," he said.

E-mail: rrogers@desnews.com