While the area around the new University of Colorado Health Sciences Center is booming, the buildings CU left behind a decade ago stand abandoned, and the property is now on its third developer. The city is ready for something, anything, to go there. Well, maybe not anything, say the Walmartyrs.
And now opponents of the plan to put a Walmart in the project are asking to be added to the agenda at the next Colorado Boulevard Healthcare District meeting. Here's their letter:
The undersigned representatives of Stop Walmart Colorado request thirty (30) minutes at the October 4 CBHCD meeting, to make a formal presentation of our objections to tax increment financing for the 9th and Colorado development, as currently conceived; Walmart as anchor tenant; and the use of this prime site for a one-story retail center with luxury housing.
Over a thousand people have purchased our yard signs, asked to be on our e-mail list, and signed up to volunteer. Stop Walmart Colorado represents an important point of view in the matter of redeveloping 9th and Colorado. We would like to use PowerPoint and three presenters. We understand this means we make ourselves available for questioning,as proponents of the project have done.
We wish to present a coherent, systematic picture of the reasons for our opposition rather than the scattered one- and two- minute sound bites previously allowed to opponents. Limiting opponents to that format means that proponents are treated as having information to impart from the front of the room, while opponents are treated as having mere opinions to impart from what feels like the back of the bus. So far, proponents have controlled the story: he difference in the ways we have been allowed to present information is unfair.
At the same time, we do not seek to displace community comments for and against from the audience, and that is why we have asked for a limited amount of time. Please respond to firstname.lastname@example.org at your earliest convenience whether we will be given the time we request, so that we can prepare our presentation.
Thank you for your consideration and courtesy,
STOP WALMART COLORADO
Lon Breslow, Patricia Madsen, Denis Moynihan, Lisa Haughom, Wendy Reoch, Louis Ruhlin, Julie Mahoney, Wayne Sirmins, Zoe Hamilton, David Felice, Vida Hughes, Mark Lesh and many others
Want to bet whether the courtesy will extend to actually giving the group time at the October 4 meeting? For a clue, here's a note that Mayor Michael Hancock recently sent a constituent concerned about a Walmart being built within six blocks of her home.
Here's the Hancock letter.
Thank you for your recent e-mail regarding the proposed development of the former University of Colorado Health Sciences Center site at 9th Avenue and Colorado Boulevard. I appreciate your interest and willingness to share your concerns with me directly.
Over the last decade, as a member of City Council and now as Mayor, I understand well the various plans and proposals for this site. As you know, the General Development Plan directing the build out of this area was the result of extensive community involvement and collaboration between the City and residents representing the Colorado Boulevard Healthcare District. The result is something that we can all take pride in, and it represents a tremendous opportunity for neighborhood residents, as well as the greater community at large.
The development of this site is expected to bring $180 million in direct economic investments through its final build out, employ 900 people on an ongoing basis, and serve the needs of the district's residents. The promising site has remained empty and blighted for nine years and it is now in the best interest of the neighborhoods and the city to facilitate viable retail development for this area.
The City cannot distinguish or discriminate between different retailers, so long as the retailers abide by regulations and guidelines. My hope is that through civil discussion and collaboration, all parties -the developer, the residents and businesses, and the Colorado Boulevard Health Care District -- may work together to bring new life to this challenging site.
While I support the redevelopment of this site, I very much understand the concerns surrounding its potential retail tenants. My staff and I have been involved in community meetings and engaged with interested neighbors, and I have met with Councilwomen Mary Beth Susman and Jeanne Robb to better understand everyone's perspective.
Moving forward, it is my understanding the developer and the Health Care District will hold a number of public meetings in the coming months to continue an open dialogue about the process for the development. I encourage you to remain involved and help identify the best solution to turn this blighted area into a sustainable retail landscape that will provide benefits to your neighborhood and all of Denver for years to come.
Michael B. Hancock Mayor
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While many neighbors oppose Walmart, others welcome the Trader Joe's that will be built just a block away. In many ways, the divided opinions over these stores illustrate how Colorado is split politically. See our feature ""Red state v. blue state: Which Colorado do you live in?"