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GB City Council approves "downtown" designation in latest blow to Walmart

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Proposed downtown Green Bay Walmart
Proposed downtown Green Bay Walmart

GREEN BAY, WI (WTAQ) - On a unanimous vote, the Green Bay City Council Tuesday night approved reclassifying property in the Broadway District as "downtown".

That means amending the city's Smart Growth 2022 Comprehensive Plan to keep future land use at a medium-box, or between 25,000 and 70,000 square feet. It also allows for mixed-use development, rather than just one particular usage.

It's the latest effort to keep Walmart from building a 154,000 square foot Supercenter on the site in the 400-600 blocks of N. Broadway Street.

"We'll take a look at our proposal and we'll see," said Walmart spokesperson Lisa Nelson after the vote. "But right now its 150,000 square feet and it's a one-story building."

Nelson wouldn't say what the retailer's next move would be. 

"I have not talked to the team yet, I don't know where we'll go from here," said Nelson.

One option would be to request an exception to the city's Planned Unit Development. 

"It will be interesting to see if they do come back with a different design. I hope they do," said Green Bay Mayor Jim Schmitt. "If they truly want to be in the Broadway, in the downtown district there going to have to do some design changes, the ball's in their court."

During the public hearing portion of Tuesday night's council meeting, about 50 people spoke. Most of those people were in favor of the downtown designation.

Several city council members who voted in favor of the Plan Commission's recommendation cautioned that they want to move this process along and keep talks with Walmart going.

Another potential wrench in this saga is April's election, where some new city council members could be elected with a different perspective on this divisive issue.

"I think these council people are voting their district's wishes," said Schmitt. "I don't think a new council would change the vote if they truly represent their district."

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