GREEN BAY, Wis (WFRV) The latest episode in the downtown Green Bay Walmart saga has a surprise twist! Thursday, Mayor Jim Schmitt is set to meet with Walmart officials about the store. Schmitt says he doesn't like Walmart's current vision for the store and he has seen designs for stores in other cities, that he feels would fit better in the Broadway District.
Wednesday night, On Broadway Inc., the group that originally considered the proposal, held its annual meeting with business owners around the district.
Inside Titletown Brewing Company, On Broadway Inc. staff presented their annual report. Executive Director Christopher Naumann told those gathered, 2012 was a good year.
"This year we calculated over 150,000 people came to the district to attend our events - that's significant," said Naumann.
But it's what lies ahead that people like Rhonda Sitnikau wanted to talk more about. Specifically her strong objection to the possibility of Walmart building on the Larsen Green property.
"The fact they are even considering this is what's causing problems," said Sitnikau.
Walmart holds an option to purchase part of the old Larsen Cannery within the Broadway District. Last month the retailer held a public hearing to show their initial plans and to received public input.
"Walmart came to us," said Naumann. "They acknowledged an opportunity here in this market that they want to take advantage of and they have the opportunity to vett the process - to see if they can come up with a proposal acceptable to the community."
But Sitnikau fears this large retailer will have a negative impact on the district's small businesses. And while the proposal has caused an uproar along Broadway, Elliot Christenson of Green Bay Net says there is a silent majority of business owners here, that believes Walmart might not be such a bad neighbor.
"There are some voices on Broadway that are against Walmart," said Christenson. "But I wouldn't say it's over half."
All Sitnikau knows is she will never support the idea
"The Broadway District is sacred, it has momentum, definitely not the time to sell out your neighbors," said Sitnikau.
Walmart's initial proposal involved constructing a 150,000 square foot supercenter. It's unknown at this point if they have adjusted their proposed design.