A public meeting scheduled for this Thursday has been canceled, as developer Jeff Fuqua tries to come up with a new financial development plan for the old University of Colorado hospital campus.
"We have a number of options available to reconfigure the financial structure and composition of the development plan," Fuqua said in a statement. "The current design plan gives the neighbors and the whole city of Denver a vibrant retail and community gathering space that will generate millions in sales tax revenues, and as such we want to build that plan."
Fuqua's spokesperson Dominic Delpapa says that plan, for now, still includes a Walmart.
"From the beginning we have taken the input of neighbors and community leaders seriously and worked to build a development that the entire city can be proud of," Fuqua said. "Our commitment has been to build a new urban development that is not only the best in metro Denver but among the best in the nation. That is our plan moving forward and we welcome the opportunity to continue collaborating with City Council, Mayor Hancock and the community to make it happen."
Thursday's meeting was expected to be quite heated, as neighbors who oppose Walmart have been very vocal in previous meetings.
They put up hundreds of 'No Walmart' signs all over the neighborhood.
There are some who would have welcomed Walmart to 9th and Colorado, including businesses across the street.
Steven Nichols at Heidi's Brooklyn Deli says the proposed development for 9th and Colorado would have brought a much needed boost to businesses on the block.
"I want to see this place packed. Back-to-back, wall-to-wall," Nichols said. "When I heard there was going to be a Walmart there, I was actually kind of excited. For the simple fact that I know it'll bring business for all the business owners around."
Nichols says his customers deserve a better view.
"They face this large window in front of our store and there's nothing there," Nichols said.
Neighbors turned out in droves voicing outrage over the proposed Walmart and the $15 to $20 million dollars in tax increment financing the project would have received.
Denver City Councilwomen Mary Beth Susman and Jeanne Robb announced they will not support the public financing, which the developer needs.
Fuqua is now looking at other options for the site.
"The rhetoric was getting very strong," Susman said. "We needed to make a statement to say folks we're going back to the drawing board. We hear you. We hear what you're saying."
Susman's office was inundated with 423 emails, of which just 15 supported the Walmart.
A Trader Joe's planned for an empty lot across the street received no opposition from neighbors.
Some have voiced fears the old CU hospital will sit empty for another decade, but Susman believes the property will be developed in a way that meets the needs of the neighborhood.
Susman wants the developer to come up with a plan that features less retail, and more residential plans.
"It is a good property and the economy is rebounding," Susman said. "[Fuqua] can do a more mixed use job, or there will be other developers who will be interested."
For those like Nichols who work at adjacent businesses, anything would be better than the view they have now.
"There's completely nothing there," Nichols said. "We need something better to look at than an abandoned hospital."
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