Walmart-Stores Inc. announced on Tuesday that is will not open an urban-style store that faced a great deal of neighborhood and political opposition at the 9th and Colorado Boulevard site that was the former campus for the University of Colorado Health Sciences.
“While Walmart will not be part of the planned redevelopment of the former University of Colorado Health Sciences campus, we will continue to evaluate other opportunities to serve Denver area customers and expand access to affordable groceries,” the giant retailer said in a release.
City Councilwomen Mary Beth Sussman and Jeanne Robb recently said they would not support tax-increment financing for the project with Walmart on board as an anchor tenant in the mixed-use development project proposed by developer Jeff Fuqua.
The TIF is needed to help cover the cost of demolition and infrastructure. A number of neighbors have said they would support a development that included a Costco or Target as an anchor, but not a Walmart, even though the proposed Walmart, with 119,000 square feet of space, would have much smaller than a typical super store.
“I think this has always been a very complicated project, and as a prospective tenant, we knew the developer needed to have a path forward,” said Joshua Phair, a spokesman for Walmart.
“While the developer is trying to determine that path forward are looking at other opportunities in the Denver area to serve our customers,” he said. “With no clear path forward for the development at this time, we have made the decision to look elsewhere and take advantage of other opportunities at this time.”
Mayor Michael B. Hancock issued this statement:
“The redevelopment of the site at 9th and Colorado is a priority for Denver. Through a collaborative process, the stakeholders have convened to explore the options of this site, and the neighborhoods have been heard. Together we will work to deliver a project that serves the community and will create jobs and prosperity in a central corridor of the city.
“Walmart remains a valued partner to the city, serving many of our neighborhoods and providing thousands of jobs.
“Moving forward, the city remains steadfast in its commitment to see this site redeveloped. We will continue to support the stakeholders – the University of Colorado, City Council, residents, local businesses and the developer – and communicate with the neighborhoods in an inclusive and transparent manner.”
Opponents already have begun to cheer the Walmart’s decision.
“Good to see citizens band together to voice their opinion about what their neighborhood composition should be and then fight for it,” Bruce Boretsky posted on a DenverPost.com website.” I am also proud of the people in city government who have the backbone to stand up to big money and support their constituents.”
Walmart also had this to say: “We are proud to operate dozens of stores in the metro area, including several in the City and County of Denver. Our reputation as a good employer and valued retailer is supported by the fact that everyday thousands of local residents choose to work at Walmart and every week hundreds of thousands of customers shop our Denver area stores. We appreciate their vote of confidence and remain committed to working with the City and County of Denver and local communities to help create jobs, spur business development, and help residents save money.”
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