Walmart Saga in Downtown Green Bay Not Over Yet - WBAY

Walmart Saga in Downtown Green Bay Not Over Yet


It took more than five hours Tuesday night for the Green Bay city council to say "no" to Walmart's proposal to build a super-store on Broadway in downtown. The 6-5 vote came after lots of debate and input from the public.

It's been nearly a year since we first told you about the retail giant's interest in building a 154,000 square foot store on the Larsen Green site on North Broadway and the question now is "what's next?"

Now that city leaders have voted against putting a Walmart in downtown Green Bay, most people want to know if the Walmart saga over for the downtown lot? The simple answer is not just yet.

Walmart owns the purchase agreement for the property until August 25th. So, they do still have an opportunity to bring back a new proposal and nobody is quite sure if we've heard the last from Walmart about a store on Broadway.

"We're still under contract with Walmart and that technically goes through August 25th and we're kind of waiting to see what their next steps are," said Executive Director of On Broadway Incorporated Chris Naumann.

"When I talk to other mayors throughout the United States, just asking them how it was dealing with Walmart, to a tee they've all said they keep coming back and coming back," said Green Bay Mayor Jim Schmitt.

When asked about their plans going forward a Walmart spokesperson offered this response:

"The city and the USDA have documented a need for affordable groceries and general merchandise in downtown Green Bay. Last night's vote didn't change that and didn't do anything to address the need. We are committed to our Green Bay customers and will continue to look for opportunities to serve them."

Leadership at On Broadway Incorporated tells me they're waiting on Walmart before deciding what to do next with the downtown property they currently own.

"If they choose to break their contract, or walk away from the opportunity we still control the property for 'x' amount of weeks until we can no longer afford to carry that torch. In the meantime the property now becomes available for other options, or opportunities," said Naumann.

If On Broadway Inc. can't find the right fit for the downtown property and defaults on its loan, Green Bay's mayor says the city has already made plans in the budget to assume the debt and responsibility for the property.

"That's a beautiful piece of property that's a real opportunity for this community and we want to take advantage of it," said Mayor Schmitt.

Mayor Schmitt tells Action2News the city expects to take over the downtown property by the end of this year. He says at that point it may take another couple of years, but he does believe this property will be developed and become a popular destination for the downtown in the future.

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