New Raytown Walmart? Retail giant considering grocery store for empty downtown lot

RAYTOWN, Mo. - Downtown Raytown is a far cry from the good old days in the 1960s and '70s.

"We had a lot of Main Street businesses right on the streetfront," business owner Sue Frank said.

Today, things have changed. Many stores have closed as Raytown's main business district moved along 350 Highway.

As the second-generation owner of an insurance agency and former Raytown mayor, Frank wants to be around for the city's second hey day. But she worries about what could pop up right behind her E. 63rd Street business.

A Walmart Neighborhood Market is proposed for a city-owned lot at E. 62nd Street and Blue Ridge Boulevard. Walmart has put down a $5,000 deposit for the empty land as it studies the possibility of the store.

Frank doesn't want it.

"That becomes the image of your community, rather than the neighborhood character and downtown feel that we've been trying to develop for a long time," Frank said.

The Raytown Main Street Association has a vision for the downtown area, calling for a more attractive streetscape, obscured parking lots and big windows on storefronts.

Main Street Association president Steven Guenther said he doesn't oppose Walmart itself, rather the size and look of the 42,000-square foot store.

"It would be a dramatic setback," Guenther said.

The downtown area has design standards as new businesses come in. The city of Raytown said Walmart has requested to opt out of those guidelines for its proposed store.

Guenther envisions a town square-type atmosphere for the empty lot with a larger number of small retailers. He thinks Raytown needs to wait for a different plan.

"I think we have to realize at some point in time, we can have something better," Guenther said.

If Walmart decides to move forward with the plan, it would pay Raytown $650,000 for the four-acre lot that used to be home to the First Baptist Church.

Before the store can be built, the plan must first pass Raytown Planning and Zoning Commission and a vote by the Board of Aldermen.

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