Sam's Club

Sam's Club, 7050 Watts Road on Madison's Far West Side, closed Jan. 26, but At Home, a Texas-based company, has proposed buying the building for a home decor super store.

BARRY ADAMS, STATE JOURNAL

Finding a new use for the former Sam’s Club building didn’t take long.

Three months after the store’s closing, a Texas-based national home decor retailer is proposing a 106,000-square-foot home decor superstore for the site at 7050 Watts Road.

The proposal for At Home, a retailer with 150 locations around the country, will go before the city’s Urban Design Commission on Wednesday. At Home is asking for city approval to upgrade the exterior of the building to reflect its branding. Formerly known as Garden Ridge, the company rebranded itself in 2014 as At Home and has been expanding across the country.

“It is important, as an emerging retailer, to present a consistent and identifiable prototype image,” the company wrote in its application to the city. “This consistency will develop over the years into brand recognition just as the iconic image of companies such as Target, Best Buy and others who enjoy instant recognition within the consumer public for what they offer to the customer.”

In its application, At Home said it is under contract to buy the building and has proposed a revision to the exterior that would replace the Sam’s entry with a stylized 34-foot-tall gable with a nearly 21-foot-tall glass entryway referred to by At Home as the “entry house.” The new entry would be supported by signage and “simple” facade improvements to the rest of the building, which is located along the Beltline.

Carey Marin, a spokeswoman for At Home, declined to comment on the proposal because “there is no deal signed yet so there is nothing to announce at this time,” she wrote in an email to the State Journal.

The Sam’s Club was one of 63 stores closed by the company in January and is located across the parking lot from a Walmart, which remains open. The two stores were built in 1988 in what was then a $20 million development. Shortly after the announcement to close the Sam’s Club, the Boys & Girls Club of Dane County asked Walmart to donate the building so it could be converted into a sports complex and job-training center, but Walmart declined.

The entry of At Home into the Madison market will likely tighten competition among other retailers, including locally owned Willow Creek, 601 Junction Road, Homegoods and Tuesday Morning, both in Greenway Station in Middleton, and other stores such as Pier One and Bed, Bath & Beyond.

The addition could also take market share from other stores that include home decor in their inventories such as Target, Kohl’s, Macy’s and locally owned Orange Tree Imports, 1721 Monroe St., and Rubin’s, a Madison staple since 1932 and with locations Downtown and on South Whitney Way.

If the At Home proposal is approved, it would become the third location in Wisconsin for the home decor retailer.

It has two stores in the Milwaukee area located on Mayfair Road in Wauwatosa and South 27th Street in Greenfield. The publicly traded company is in 34 states and its stores feature 50,000 items across broad product categories including furniture, garden, home textiles, housewares, patio, rugs, seasonal, tabletop and wall decor.

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Barry Adams covers regional and business news for the Wisconsin State Journal.