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The Walmart in Vine City will reopen as a Walmart Neighborhood Market focusing on groceries and including a pharmacy, but the Howell Mill Road location will never reopen, according to the company and the city of Atlanta.

Both stores sustained fire and water damage after suspected arson in December – Vine City on Martin Luther King Jr. Drive before Christmas and Howell Mill just after.

“After a thorough review of all factors related to our Vine City and Howell Mill Road stores, we have made the decision to reopen our Vine City location as a Walmart Neighborhood Market and permanently close our Howell Mill Road location,” said Walmart spokesperson Charles Crowson in an email.

“Unfortunately, a variety of economic headwinds existed at both stores before they were closed due to arson,” Crowson said.

Crowson thanked Mayor Andre Dickens and City Councilmember Byron Amos for their roles in ensuring a Walmart Neighborhood Market comes to Vine City “to help meet the grocery and pharmacy needs of the community.”

“This will be our focus going forward,” Crowson said.

A Neighborhood Market is typically one-fifth the size of a Walmart Supercenter and usually located in urban areas. There are Walmart Neighborhood Markets in Dunwoody, Marietta and Tucker.

Unlike Vine City, Walmart is not able to repurpose the Howell Mill Road location due to site restrictions, Crowson said.

“We will work with Mayor Dickens and his office to find a new use or business for the site,” said Crowson.

Mayor Dickens issued a statement late Monday night that the store at 835 Martin Luther King Jr. Drive in Vine City will reopen. A timeline line for the conversion and reopening have not been announced yet.

“Food and nutrition security for Atlanta families is a moral right for our communities. The intersection of Martin Luther King Jr. Drive & Joseph E. Lowery Blvd is a nexus of multiple NW and SW Atlanta communities with seniors, children, students and thousands of individuals and households who already lack accessible options for fresh, affordable food,” Dickens said in a statement to the media.

As for the closed Howell Mill Road site, Dickens said “The city will continue our work with Walmart and community stakeholders on the appropriate use of the Howell Mill store site and job placement for the affected employees.”

Atlanta City Councilman Byron Amos issued the following statement following Walmart’s announcement that it will reopen the reconfigured store in Vine City.

“After working with Walmart’s corporate leadership, I can announce that the Walmart store located in Vine City will remain open. The current configuration of the superstore concept that occupies the space will be converted into the neighborhood market concept. The time frame for the completion of the remodel has yet to be determined. For weeks, the community has stood together in lockstep with a focus on making the entire MLK corridor safer and more accessible. With this confirmation, we can continue the years of dedication and hard work to continue to make that goal a reality,” said Amos.

Dyana Bagby contributed.

Collin Kelley

Collin Kelley has been the editor of Atlanta Intown for two decades and has been a journalist and freelance writer for 35 years. He’s also an award-winning poet and novelist.