Everybody loves a good Walmart protest. Well, everybody aside from Walmart itself. And Colorado has certainly seen its share over the years. The latest is a protest over a proposed Walmart that would go in near Ninth Avenue and Colorado Boulevard, on the site of the former University of Colorado Hospital — and just up the street from a Trader Joe's rumored to be going in at Eighth and Colorado.
The 28-acre CU campus — vacant since 2007 — is scheduled to be redeveloped by Atlanta-based Fuqua Development, the third company that has tried to take on the task. Plenty of protesters (the People of Anti-Walmart?) were planning to show up at a public meeting on the plan scheduled for June 26 (after Westword went to press), and in the meantime, many more were making their anti-Walmart feelings known on Facebook.
By now, though, the anti-Walmart machine has well-greased wheels in Colorado. A few of this state's better-known protests:
Just last week, Walmart introduced its "Neighborhood Market" concept, opening three stores — in Arvada, Centennial and on Parker Road in Denver — in one day. The Neighborhood Markets are smaller versions of Walmart's regular outlets; perhaps in recognition of this, only a small group of union-backed protesters picketed the Denver location on June 20.
In January, Walmart revealed plans to build a 93,000-square-foot supercenter in the tiny town of Pagosa Springs, sixty miles from Durango. While city officials have supported the retailer, a group called Pagosa First has been protesting the plan, and picketed at a public meeting there in March.
Last December, a group of Occupy Denver protesters met outside Loveland's Walmart distribution center to demonstrate against "corporate bureaucracy." They temporarily blocked traffic from going into or out of the warehouse until Loveland police arrived and arrested thirteen of them.
In 2006, Walmart got approval for a superstore on South Santa Fe Drive in Littleton, right next to South Platte Park. But local activists managed to get the issue on the ballot, and residents voted it down.
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And in 2004, Stop Elitch Wal-Mart — a neighborhood organization in northwest Denver — lived up to its name, putting an end to plans to put a store on the site of the former Elitch Gardens amusement park. Hundreds of neighbors spoke out against the project, saying it didn't fit in with feel of the area and arguing that a Walmart there would create traffic problems and negatively affect property values, safety, the environment and the neighborhood's general quality of life. In 2010, Walmart bounced back, announcing plans to build a superstore not far away, in the town of Lakeside, right next to the amusement park; that store is scheduled to open in 2012.
Denver will not be getting the sales tax.
Scene and herd: While city officials were blinded by Scientologists on June 16, when a shiny, 44,000-square-foot Church of Scientology was dedicated in the renovated, circa 1916 American Radiator Company near Coors Field, another nearby religious institution marked a major milepost that went almost ignored. Also on June 16, the Christian Science Metropolitan Reading Room celebrated a century of continuous service downtown. The original Reading Room was in the fancy Gas and Electric Building at 15th and Champa streets; it's been in its current location, at the corner of the 16th Street Mall and Larimer Street, since 1990. And while this Christian Science occasion was much more modest than the bash up the street, the Reading Room itself is considerably more modest than the new Church of Scientology, the fifth Scientology Ideal Organization (Org) to open in 2012 — and the only one with a neo-classical entrance crafted from pure-white Colorado yule marble.