GREEN BAY, Wis. (WFRV) - A proposal to build a Walmart within Green Bay's Broadway District moves forward. However, construction is far from a sure thing. Tuesday the city's Redevelopment Authority voted to let the process continue - as Walmart seeks to develop a possible proposal for a supercenter on the old Larsen Canning Company site.
In a packed room at Green Bay City Hall lots of debate - between Walmart seeking more time to develop a proposal for a supercenter in downtown.
"We don't build stores that we do not think will be successful," said Walmart representative Deborah Tomczak.
And city officials who say Walmart has already had all the time it needs.
"I have nothing against Walmart," said Green Bay Mayor Jim Schmitt. "I shop there; this is about the redevelopment of downtown."
The issue in front of the RDA - because of a tie vote by the Larsen Green governing board - on whether to end Walmart's purchase option for this 15 acre site along North Broadway.
Mayor Schmitt, who is against Walmart's plan and on the governing board - pushed the issue saying Walmart had failed to meet set deadlines, many times before.
"This is a big decision you are going to be making today," Schmitt told RDA members.
During the meeting, Walmart officials said they need a large store to make the project viable. Saying significant changes have already been made at the request of both the city and On Broadway Inc., which owns the 15 acre. They say they simply need more time to work out the details.
"It simply means the process continues, it sees the light of day and we can still vet this further with consumers," said Tomczak.
And after a comment period that heard those both for and against the plan, the RDA voted 4-3 to deny the motion to terminate Walmart's purchase option.
"I don't know if it's the worst development or the best development," said RDA member Tom Weber. "But I'd like On Broadway to be able to look at it a little closer."
"We'll continue our discussions with city after the vote - see how we can be part of the vision for development in the downtown core," said Walmart spokeswoman, Delia Garcia.
"This is going to go back to the Larsen Green governing board," Schmitt said. "Ii just don't see any movement there. Something has to happen - somebody has to give a little."
No word yet on when the retailer will again meet with the Larsen Green board - to again request an extension. Walmart's current purchase option is expected to expire in the coming weeks.
Today the Green Bay Redevelopment Authority had the option to terminate the purchase agreement with Walmart and open the site back up to other buyers.
Instead, they rejected the motion, allowing this process to continue.
"We are simply allowing the process to go forward on the purchase agreement" explains Tom Weber, member of the RDA. "They are going to have a lot of hurdles, I just wanted to see this process continue did not think it was appropriate for the RDA to stop the process per say".
This issue came to the RDA because the Larsen Green Governing Board, which manages the 15 acres Walmart is proposing to develop, tied 3-3 over whether to extend the option to buy.
While more than a dozen people spoke out against the plans, not everyone in the room was anti Walmart.
Some want to see a scaled down, more urban design.
However, the big box store has been firm in its plans to build a single story roughly 150,000 square foot store.
Before construction could begin Walmart will still need to get a fourth extension on the purchase agreement through the Larsen board, then gain zoning approval from the full city council.
"This is going to go back to the Larsen Green Governing Board, I just do not see any movement there. Something has to happen, somebody has to give a little" says Green Bay Mayor Jim Schmitt.