Debate rages over proposed Walmart at 9th and Colorado

10:25 PM, Sep 6, 2012   |    comments
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Developer Jeff Fuqua wants to tear down the old University of Colorado Hospital campus and put up a mix of restaurants, residences, and retail - including what is described as an upscale, urban concept Walmart.

If you drive on the side streets, you'll see a lot of red "No Walmart" signs in people's front yards.

But there are also neighbors, like Carol Maller, who support the Walmart project.

Maller lives in a multi-family building adjacent to the old CU hospital campus.

"All those abandoned buildings. It's bad enough now," Maller said. "What is it going to mean if this developer walks away and we are left with another 10 years of deterioration."

Wayne Sirmons says there's a reason why there are so many neighbors who oppose Walmart.

"Walmart is not the correct concept for this piece of property," Sirmons said. "We want an amenity. We don't want a convenience. We're talking about a company with no corporate ethics; a company that's predatory; and a company that puts other companies out of business."

Sirmons says Walmart's low prices, and typically lower income clientele are not the reason neighbors oppose the development plan.

"It's not an elitist thing at all," Sirmons said.

Sirmons doesn't buy the promise of an upscale, urban Walmart.

"I hope they sell a lot of lipstick because the pig's going to need it," Sirmons said.

Residents are also concerned about the "TIF" financing. The project could receive an estimated $15 to $30 million.

Fuqua has called that number inflated.

At Thursday's public meeting, the topic was transportation.

Neighbors voiced concerns about the projected 14,000 vehicle trips per day the new Walmart would bring to already congested Colorado Boulevard.

Developers say that's still a third of the traffic the old hospital brought in.

Maller says there are plenty of neighbors like her who wouldn't mind seeing Walmart out their windows.

"You'll never see yard signs because we don't have yards," she said. "Our voice is not heard. Redevelop and revitalize this neighborhood for us, or condemn us to another 10 to 20 years of blight."

Sirmons, and other Walmart opponents, see things differently.

"Walmart is a blight. Walmart would be a blight on this neighborhood," Sirmons said.

Both sides will get to voice their opinions at the next public meeting on October 4, 2012.

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