Past is Prologue

Clint Schemmer writes about history, heritage preservation and the American Civil War.  On Facebook: Past is Prologue  On Twitter: @prologuepast  ContactEmail Clint or call 540/374-5424.

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Walmart hopeful on new Orange County store

MORE: Read more news from Fredericksburg

Wal-Mart Stores Inc. is eyeing several potential sites in eastern Orange County’s State Route 3 corridor for a new store site, the company’s regional spokesman said in an interview with The Free Lance-Star today.

William C. Wertz, Walmart’s divisional director for media relations, said the company is confident it will build a store elsewhere in eastern Orange. And it may happen much more swiftly, he said, than if Walmart had won the Orange County Circuit Court case that it dropped today.

Speaking in a hallway outside the courtroom where the case was being heard, Wertz said no one single factor led to Walmart’s decision to abandon development of its original Wilderness Walmart site, near the Wilderness battlefield portion of Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania National Military Park.

Walmart and private landowners had planned a 240,000-square-foot retail center on the 51-acre site near the intersection of State Routes 3 and 20.

Historians say the site was the “nerve center” of the Wilderness battlefield where Gens. Robert E. Lee and Ulysses S. Grant first fought, although no fighting is known to have taken place on the tract. Artillery batteries were arrayed on the land, and a large Union hospital that treated hundreds of wounded and dying during the Battle of the Wilderness in May 1864 was close by, according to Robert Rosenbaum, lead attorney for the Friends of Wilderness Battlefield and six local residents who sued Orange County over the development.

The company reached its decision, which involved top executives and officials in Walmart’s legal and real estate arms, within the past couple of days, Wertz said.