Walmart reopening Vine City store, closing Howell Mill location

After fires shut down two separate metro Atlanta Walmarts, one will reopen while the other will be permanently closed.

Monday night, the Walmart corporation announced that it has made the decision to reopen its Vine City location.

The store has been a key access point for residents who otherwise would have to travel miles for fresh produce, but it has been boarded up since mid-December due to a fire set inside.

The status of the business has been a source of conversation and worry in the community. People in the area considered it a food desert after the Vine City Publix closed in 2009. 

Atlanta City Council Member Byron Adams, who represents the area said that his community was fearful this latest closure would create a medical desert where senior citizens would not be able to no longer get, go right down the street to get their medicine - life-saving drugs that they need. 

So word it will reopen - though as a smaller, Walmart Neighborhood Market - is expected to be a relief.

In a statement, Atlanta Mayor Andre Dickens described the Vine City location on Martin Luther King Jr. Drive & Joseph E. Lowery Blvd as 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."

But while the Vine City Walmart will eventually reopen, another metro area store will be closed permanently.

The Howell Mill location was shuttered after a fire at the end of 2022.

Video shared with FOX 5 shows the flames shooting up about 20 feet to just under the light fixtures in the men’s clothing section as people evacuated the store.

A store spokesperson told FOX 5 that "economic headwinds" existed at the store before the alleged arson.

"Unlike Vine City, Walmart does not have the ability to repurpose the Howell Mill Road location due to site restrictions. We will work with Mayor Dickens and his office to find a new use or business for the site," the spokesperson said.

A timeframe has not yet been announced for when the Vine City Walmart will reopen.