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Walmart looking at Bowles site for Neighborhood Market

Jennifer Smith
jsmith@littletongazette.com
9/1/11

Walmart has filed for permits to open a Neighborhood Market in the old Albertsons store at 3615 W. Bowles Ave., confirms Glen VanNimwegen, the city’s director of community development. The building was most recently occupied by SmartCo Foods, which opened in August 2010 and closed just four months later.

Because the site is already zoned for a grocery store, the plan will not go before city council and no public hearings are required. Josh Phair, Walmart spokesman, said the store will likely open next fall.

“We’re excited,” he said. “It’s a new concept for the Colorado market.” There are about 150 others across the country, but this will be one of the first in Colorado. Two others are planned in Colorado Springs, he said.

VanNimwegen says the permits are for new signage and to remodel the interior of the 42,459-square-foot building. Phair said the building’s footprint won’t change, but it will be updated inside and out.

Walmart Neighborhood Markets are smaller versions of the big-box stores and carry mostly groceries. According to Walmart’s Web site, each market employs about 95 people.

“The Walmart Neighborhood Market will certainly have no more or less impact than the Albertsons, but there will certainly be a positive impact over the vacant space,” said VanNimwegen. “There will be some sales tax generated from the construction, and it is always preferable for adjacent businesses to have a neighbor that brings in customers to the location again.”

In 2006, Walmart created a huge controversy by proposing a superstore on South Santa Fe Drive that would have backed up to South Platte Park. Council approved the plan by a 4-3 vote. A group of citizen activists took the issue to the voters, who shot Walmart down 7,878 to 5,128. Objections at the time ranged from “not in my back yard” to the effects it might have on the park to philosophical problems with the company, but some thought the convenience, affordability and sales-tax revenue outweighed those concerns.

Councilwoman Peggy Cole and Mayor Pro Tem Debbie Brinkman emerged from the anti-Walmart group, as did Planning Commissioner Linda Knufinke and former Planning Commissioner Pavlos Stavropoulos.

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