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Walmart Neighborhood Market Opening Wednesday in San Ramon

The first Walmart Neighborhood Market in the Bay Area will open Wednesday in San Ramon. The prospect of a Walmart in the old Lucky/Alberstons building on the El Cerrito/Richmond border has stirred local controversy.

After a summer of construction and hiring, the Walmart Neighborhood Market in South San Ramon is set to open on Wednesday, the Arkansas-based company announced in a press release Friday.

The Walmart grocery chain has moved into the 50,000 square-foot storefront in the Country Club Shopping Center off Alcosta, which has been empty since 2010. There are about 200 Walmart Neighborhood Markets in United States, but the San Ramon store will be the company's first in the Bay Area.

The possibility that Walmart could move into the former Lucky/Albertsons building on San Pablo Avenue on the El Cerrito/Richmond border has aroused some local protests.

News of Walmart opening one of its grocery stores in San Ramon first came to light in February, when the city learned Walmart had started the bidding process for construction for the vacant storefront. Walmart didn't need city approval to build a Neighborhood Market because the storefront was already zoned for a grocery store.

The market will be open 24 hours a day, seven days a week and will resemble other area grocery stores. It will offer fresh produce, a self-serve deli and bakery, a pharmacy and a full line of groceries.

“We are pleased to serve the City of San Ramon by being an involved partner, and offering a convenient, affordable, grocery store option for the community,” said store manager Baltazar Garcia. “This is truly going to be their Neighborhood Market, and it’s exciting.”

A Walmart grocery store coming to San Ramon didn't come without controversy.

The United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) Union said they were strongly against the grocery chain coming to the Bay Area and there were small protests outside the store in the spring. Unlike grocery workers at other stores like Safeway and Lucky's, Walmart Neighborhood Market employees aren't unionized.

But others, including the San Ramon Chamber of Commerce, are welcoming Walmart to the city.

“We welcome Walmart to San Ramon and are pleased that the Neighborhood Market will occupy the vacant anchor space in the Country Club Village Center,” said Stewart Bambino, president of the San Ramon Chamber of Commerce. "We look forward to working closely with Walmart to enhance our community."

Walmart says the opening in San Ramon has created about 85 new jobs and they are still accepting applications here.

For its grand opening Wednesday, there is a planned ribbon-cutting event at 7:30 a.m. and family friendly entertainment events that will be free to the public throughout the day.

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