Judge rules Walmart winner in fight over new store - CBS News 8 - San Diego, CA News Station - KFMB Channel 8

Judge rules Walmart winner in fight over new store

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SAN DIEGO (CNS) - A judge Monday denied a bid for a temporary restraining order that would have stopped demolition work at the site of a Wal-Mart store in a landmark building in Sherman Heights.

Members of neighborhood and labor-affiliated groups claimed that Wal-Mart began demolishing the iconic Farmers Market building before issuing proper notice. They went to court last week in a bid to get the project shut down.

The retailer's lawyers said it had the necessary permits to begin work on its future Wal-Mart Neighborhood Market, which will be smaller than the typical big-box store and focus mainly on groceries. The site is in a building that has a tower that dominates the skyline east of Interstate 5 near downtown.

A city permit calls for seismic retrofits of the structure, including the removal of the north wall, windows, roof and floor.

In his ruling, Judge Joel Pressman said the work was consistent with city-approved plans that call for maintaining the facade. He also said the building, in its current condition, was a safety hazard, so the plaintiffs -- the Coalition for Safe and Healthy Economic Progress -- should have acted sooner.

"It's good news when construction teams are back to work and residents are a step closer to getting what they have overwhelmingly said they want -- more job opportunities and affordable grocery options in their own neighborhood, said Steve Restivo, the senior director of community affairs at Wal-Mart.

"We will continue to engage with the community as we improve the vacant Farmers Market building and create a new, vibrant destination for local customers," he said.

While the tower is easily visible to commuters, the structure does not meet any of the city's criteria for historic buildings.

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