In Latin maior means greater. In Denver English, Mayor means lesser. In not such a stunning turn of events, Walmart, the worlds largest retailer, has pulled out of the 9th and Colorado redevelopment project at the former University of Colorado site. Facing a tidal wave of negative support from neighbors, two influential neighborhood groups, and Council Members Jeannie Robb and Mary Beth Susman, the Bentonville behemoth has determined it wasn’t in it’s best interest to continue swimming against such an overwhelming tide.
Developer Jeff Fuqua, who has spent countless hours and dollars, trying to stem the tide while soliciting TIF dollars from the city, who had said earlier, that without Walmart, there are no other retailers interested, now says, “While Walmart will not be part of the planned redevelopment of the former University of Colorado Health Sciences campus, we will continue to evaluate other opportunities to serve Denver-area customers and expand access to affordable groceries.”
While the anti-Walmart foes will be pleased that they have driven away the beast they so despise for reasons that realistically can be leveled at any large big box retailer; Target, Home Depot, and Lowe’s just to name a few, the sad fact is that the City of Denver will be the ultimate Big Loser in the aftermath of this skirmish.
What happened to the desire and leadership of Mayor Hancock with the Walmart deal? The city needs money, a developer came with a solution and the city council raised such a fit that the Mayor hid. Do you think John Evans, David Moffat, and Walter Cheesman would have been pushed around? What would they have accomplished if this were the case? If this would have been Mayor Stapleton, we might not have the beautiful Denver Civic Center, the Municipal Airport (at the time), expansion of Denver Mountain Parks system, and the amazing Red Rocks Amphitheater, that we all love. We are not saying Walmart is an architectural gem, or that there were going to be U2 concerts, but…
If Hancock were great, he would have made the deal happen. Denver has a strong mayor/weak city council government, but in this case it should be, well… you know what we are thinking.
The University of Colorado site at 9th and Colorado Blvd has been an albatross and eye sore for five years since the University vacated the site for greener pastures at the Fitzsimmons site in Aurora. What now?
Although the announcement and decision to move was begun in 1997 during Wellington Webb’s final term as mayor, no one could have known the rapid pace that the University’s exodus would take. But that pace was more than evident during John Hickenlooper’s two terms, and certainly with his political clout, congeniality, and connections, he could have taken a leadership role in helping to determine the outcome of the site.
Fast forward to 2012, and the issue fell heavily and squarely in newly elected Mayor Hancock’s lap. What did he do? He turtled, tucked his head in and watched from the sidelines as one of the cities most prominent redevelopment sites was batted around like a tetherball, back and forth.
- Susman and Robb Green Light Walmart (downmainstreet.com)
- Mayor Hancock Should Step Up: Fuqua Has (downmainstreet.com)
- Opposition Grows To Proposed Denver Walmart (denver.cbslocal.com)
- Councilwomen Susman, Robb oppose public financing for Walmart project (denverpost.com)
- Big Change Coming to Walmart Stores (dailyfinance.com)
- Hancock tells Council it’s time to build 9th and Colorado project (denverpost.com)
- Walmart Tests Limited Same-Day Delivery of Online Orders (dailyfinance.com)
- Walmart Now Has Too Many Disgruntled Employees To Ignore (businessinsider.com)
- Walmart strikes spread to more states (salon.com)
- Tired of the Speculation, Trader Joe’s Confirms (downmainstreet.com)