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camp america

A former Kmart store in Northwest Fresno that totals nearly 200,000-square-feet may soon undergo work to replace an existing Walmart location. Photo by David Castellon

published on November 15, 2017 - 12:50 PM
Written by Gabriel Dillard

Work to convert a long-vacant retail business on West Shaw Avenue in Fresno into a Walmart Supercenter could begin soon.

That’s because the Fresno Development and Resource Management Department has approved a permit allowing the estimated $8.5 million conversion of the former Dan Gamel Camp America building into a Walmart.

The vacant building sits on Shaw Avenue, on the northwest corner of Brawley Avenue, while a Walmart operates across the street, off the northeast corner.

Walmart plans to relocate the contents of that store into the larger building once the renovations there are done.

To that end, Walmart purchased the former Camp

America building in 2012, but it has since sat empty.

“We are preparing for construction of the new store and are currently finalizing plans with the goal to open the store in late 2018,” Tiffany Wilson, a Walmart spokeswoman, said in an email. “We look forward to offering our customers a one-stop shopping experience near a location that is already familiar to them.”

Fresno businessman Gamel, who owned a chain of RV lots in California and Arizona, purchased the building – a former Kmart store — in 2003 and reportedly spent $12 million converting it into a massive indoor showroom for RVs and a store for camping, fishing and other recreational gear, according to RVBusiness.com.

In 2008, Gamel announced that he was liquidating his RV businesses, and the following year his inventory at the Fresno Camp America was seized due to outstanding debts, according to news reports.

United Security Bank took possession of the building and the nearly 18-acre property in January 2010.

City records show the size of the former Camp America at 193,361 square feet, offering more than 66,500 additional square feet of room compared the Walmart store across the street.

Company officials have said the move would allow Walmart to add a full-service in-store grocery section at the new site. In fact, documents filed with the city indicate that the company plans to dedicate 38,231 square feet to its grocery section.

A portable office for Oregon-based Robinson Construction sits in the parking lot of the former Camp America, but there was no activity at the site last week to indicate any extensive renovations have begun.


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