Clearer picture for downtown Green Bay grocery store
By Ben Krumholz
GREEN BAY - A day after Green Bay's mayor promised a downtown grocery store, some companies may have already been ruled out.At his annual State of the City speech, Mayor Jim Schmitt said he'd announce a grocery store by the end of the year.On Thursday, FOX 11 learned two grocers that likely will not be coming to the downtown.Schmitt says the city has been in discussions with Festival Foods, Copps, and Piggly Wiggly.However, a Piggly Wiggly official tells FOX 11 the company is not pursuing a downtown Green Bay store. The company met with the mayor in the summer of 2012."There are good grocers in Green Bay and in Wisconsin that we've been talking to and somebody needs to make a commitment and the city needs to partner with them and that needs to become a reality this year and it will. I'm not worried about that," said Schmitt.Marza Luna owner Marta Mezo is excited about Mayor Schmitt's grocery store plans for the city's downtown."I think the whole district is excited," said Mezo.For the past few months, Mezo led a petition of Broadway area business owners against a Walmart Supercenter proposal."I think we all agree that our downtown is special enough to come up with something better than that," said Mezo.A spokesperson with Festival Foods would not confirm if the company is interested in a downtown store."We prefer not to comment on specific sites until we are certain they will work for us," said Nick Arlt, a spokesperson for Festival.One grocer the mayor says is not on the short list for a downtown location is Whole Foods."I don't know that the downtown market is specifically for them," said Schmitt. "I think the Green Bay, Fox Valley is good for them."Save-A-Lot is one of the only businesses currently in the downtown where you can buy groceries. The store's operator says upgrades are underway for inside and outside of the store."We feel we serve that community very well and have for the last 13 years and we believe we are taking care of the needs," said Steve Michaud of Haug Companies, which operates the Green Bay Save-A-Lot store."They met with us," said Mezo of Save-A-Lot. "They are willing to be very responsive to what the needs of the neighborhood and the needs of the district would be in terms of grocery."As for Walmart, earlier this month, a unanimous city council vote blocked the retailer's Supercenter proposal. Walmart did not have any updates Thursday on its efforts.
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