DENVER (CBS4) – Opposition is growing to a proposed Walmart in Denver and now two city council members are backing their constituents.
The redevelopment would take place at 9th and Colorado Boulevard on the site of the old University Hospital. The sticking point is a Walmart as an anchor store.
There is a consensus that something needs to be done with the abandoned space. Some people say they welcome any kind of shopping, especially a store that offers competitive prices. But others say Walmart doesn’t belong in that neighborhood.
The 30-acre site has been vacant since 2003, but a plan by a developer that has been approved by Denver’s planning commission will turn the area into a grid of green space, restored historical buildings and a diversity of retail shops and restaurants.
“Personally I don’t really care one way or another if there’s a Walmart or what comes into this neighborhood, as long as it’s redeveloped,” a resident said. “As you can see, this area is blighted.”
When some neighbors living in the adjacent neighborhood found out about the Walmart plans they banded together to protest.
“We deserve better. We have nothing against people going to Walmart if they choose to, but we don’t want one in our neighborhood, we have one four miles from here,” one resident said. “We support our local merchants, we love our small stores.”
The residents say it’s not just Walmart, but the concept of any big box retailer upsetting the local character of old historic streets and quaint small businesses that could be financially threatened.
“We want to keep the character of our neighborhood and Walmart doesn’t fit in with the character of our neighborhood,” the resident said.
Some residents worry the already congested Colorado Boulevard would become a full-time traffic nightmare.
“It’s going to bring in a lot of traffic at all hours, everyday,” another resident said.
The developer has its own set of challenges. Since the plan includes streets, sidewalks and green space, all things the city will require and own, the usual procedure is for the city to pay the developer upfront. The money comes back to the city later in sales tax generated by the tenants.
The financial plan is still in the works, but Friday two city council members said they would not support that financial move.
Walmart released a statement saying, “We are committed to serving our Denver customers better and expanding access to affordable fresh groceries and general merchandise.”