Local woman starts petition to stop Walmart at Durbin Park

By: Brittney Donovan , Action News Jax

Updated:

Some people say a new Walmart coming to Durbin Park will bring crime to St. Johns County.

The Pavilion at Durbin Park is under construction along Race Track Road near Interstate 95 and State Road 9B.

When completed, it will include 1,700 acres of retail, office and residential space.

Developers confirm Walmart, Home Depot, Ross, Petco, Bass Pro Shops and Gate are among the tenants coming to The Pavilion.

Some people who live and work near the planned shopping center believe Walmart will bring crime to the area.

The petition reads: "This petition is to stop Walmart from going into Durbin Creek. While none of us can tell the future, what we do know is that based on studies and facts conducted in the past, Walmart, who touts its low prices, brings with it high crime."

The petition cites a 2016 Bloomberg Businessweek article about petty and violent crimes at stores around the nation. 

It also includes links to a 2016 Time article and 2014 Huffington Post article citing trends in crime at Walmart stores.

Frank Gatlin, CEO of the company developing The Pavilion, tells Action News Jax that the new Walmart will attract people in the northern St. Johns County area -- which does not see a lot of crime.

He said any big tenant or shopping center can attract a lot of activity -- good or bad -- depending on the area where it's located. 

"This Walmart makes this whole project feasible," Gatlin said. "I strongly emphasize Walmart does not bring crime, it brings people that are in its trade area. That trade area is St. Johns County. That area is not a high crime area."

He said the Walmart project is already approved and the company is expected to be granted a building permit from the city next week.

Gatlin tells Action News Jax that the company tried to get Target as a tenant for Durbin Park but the chain is not expanding in big markets right now.

He said stores should begin to open in late 2018 or early 2019.

At last check, the petition opposing Walmart had around 140 signatures.

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