City council denies downtown Walmart proposal

A packed Green Bay city council chambers on July 15, 2014 as a vote is expected to take place on a downtown Walmart Supercenter proposal.

GREEN BAY - A Walmart won't be coming to downtown Green Bay anytime soon.

Just after midnight, the city council voted down Walmart's request to rezone a Broadway property to make way for a Supercenter.

Green Bay's city council chambers might have never held more people than they did Tuesday night.

More than 50 people took turns sharing their view on Green Bay's downtown Walmart debate.

“The vision for Green Bay's future is not the big box,” said Scott Vanroy of Green Bay. “It's the smaller, more personally locally owned business.”

“I do feel some sort of grocery store would be helpful,” said Elliot Christenson, a Broadway business owner in support of Walmart’s plan.

More than five hours into the council meeting, a vote was finally taken. Much to the delight of Walmart opponents, the council narrowly voted to deny Walmart's rezoning request.

Alderman Brian Danzinger, one of two unknown votes coming into the meeting, ended up being the deciding vote against Walmart's plan. The tally was 6 to 5.

“I'm hoping that we can find a joint solution that both the council, staff, and the petitioner can work on to really help out that parcel,” said Danzinger.

After the vote, Walmart wouldn't commit whether it will return with another proposal or try to work on a compromise.

“We've had a decision tonight on the Green Bay proposal,” said Delia Garcia, a Walmart spokesperson. “We're committed to our Green Bay customers and we're looking for other opportunities to serve them.”

Walmart still has a planning option on the property until August 25th. After that, it could end up in the city's hands if On Broadway Incorporated can't keep making loan payments.

“When their contract expires at the end of August we'll very, very aggressively follow up with some of the inquires we've had,” said Green Bay Mayor Jim Schmitt.

“Although I'm disappointed, now we've got to start looking for developers, because I got a feeling this is going to be sitting dormant for a long time,” said Tom DeWane, the city council’s president.

City developers say interest is high on the property. However, they say they can't act on that interest until the city owns the land.