Walmart pulls out of old CU campus site near Trader Joe's project most neighbors embrace

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The celebration started late yesterday afternoon in the neighborhoods around Ninth Avenue and Colorado Boulevard, as news spread that Walmart had pulled out of the project that Jeff Fuqua plans to put in the old University of Colorado Health Sciences Center.

If the timing had been a little different, they could have celebrated with a bottle of Two-Buck Chuck.

Yesterday, Walmart released this statement:

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.

One of the ironies of this fight was that while neighbors were almost universally opposed to a Walmart going into the area, most have embraced the Trader Joe's that is being built just a block away, at Eighth and Colorado, on a piece of property that was originally going to be an upscale hotel. But that development does not involve tax-increment financing, unlike the CU project; the TIF deal was the reason that councilmembers Jeanne Robb and Mary Beth Susman announced their opposition to Fuqua's project three weeks ago.

And although Boulder is also getting a Trader Joe's, this Denver site is the one that will likely stock liquor, including the legendary Charles Shaw wine known as Two-Buck Chuck. (Under arcane Colorado laws, only one site of a multi-store operation can sell liquor.) The public hearing for a liquor-license at the Trader Joe's at 790 Colorado Boulevard is set for October 26 at the Denver Department of Excise and Licenses.

The CU site has been in flux for close to a decade, since the University of Colorado Health Sciences Center decided to move to a new campus in Aurora; the last occupants moved out in 2007. Fuqua is the third developer to attempt a project on the site. The next Colorado Boulevard Healthcare District meeting is set for November 1 -- without Walmart at the table.

But neighbors will be there.

And Do It Right at 9th, formerly known as Stop Wal-Mart Colorado, released this statement as the news spread yesterday.

We couldn't be more pleased. We are proud of the role played by concerned neighbors in communicating to City Council representatives that Wal-mart was not the right way to go at 9th and Colorado. It is a real victory for 'the little guy'. Councilwomen Susman and Robb were so responsive and helpful - we are deeply grateful. Now we can get down to working with the developer, the City and CU on a plan that works for the surrounding neighborhoods and is truly beneficial for all of East Denver."

Walmart or Trader Joe's? Explore that question in our recent list "Blue State v. Red State: Which Colorado do you live in?"

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