Walmart defends refusal to downsize, build multi-level store

A look at the latest Walmart rendering released on Thursday, May 8, 2014. (Walmart)

GREEN BAY - When it comes to the Broadway site where Walmart wants to build a Supercenter store, the company says there aren't enough people nearby to support a smaller, neighborhood type store.

“But in the areas where we have very small stores, we also have very dense populations,” said Debbie Tomczyk, the land use attorney for Walmart.

At a special meeting at city hall, Walmart provided Chicago examples where the company has neighborhood markets. All the stores have a population within two miles that is more than 175,000 people. Walmart estimates the Broadway site has about 42 732 people within two miles.

“We need that dense demographic to be able to be sure we have a successful store and the smaller stores would need to be supported by a very high dense population,” said Tomczyk.

Walmart says the same argument can be applied for multi-level stores. Walmart provided a list of examples where it has multi-level stores including in Monona, Honolulu, and Washington D.C. All of the locations have populations greater within 10 miles compared to the Broadway site’s population within 10 miles.

Ray Hutchison, an urban and regional studies professor at UW-Green Bay, says he doesn't understand Walmart's logic.

“The idea that you'd have a real dense population and you can get by with a smaller space intuitively does not make sense,” said Hutchison.

Hutchison says the cost of the land is likely more of a factor when it comes to building multiple levels.

“If it’s very expensive then they will build up,” said Hutchison. “If it’s inexpensive then they'll build out.”

Walmart says multi-level stores also present operational challenges including moving shopping carts and loading merchandise.
In one week, Walmart will be hosting a neighborhood meeting at 5 p.m. at the Neville Public Museum.

On June 9th, the Plan Commission will take up Walmart's proposal.

Walmart's purchase option for the Broadway site was extended today. It now has until August 25th to work with the city on its current proposal.

As we first reported Monday night, the city's advisory committee voted 4 to 3, recommending the approval of Walmart's plan. However, the plan commission and full council must sign off on any decision.