GREEN BAY, WI (WTAQ) - Just days before a possible city council vote on a proposed Walmart Supercenter in downtown Green Bay, Mayor Jim Schmitt showed off three alternate options for the Larsen Green site.
Schmitt says it's about investing in the future.
"If we're going to compete, we need to have a community, a city and an urban downtown that is going to attract and retain the talent we need to go forward," Schmitt said during a press conference Thursday. "This is a 50 year decision for our community, and it deserves thorough analysis and community input."
The options, according to city staff, are consistent with the Comprehensive Plan and the initial intent of the Planned Unit Development. That PUD is what Walmart officials are seeking a rezoning of, in order to move forward with plans to build a 154,000 square foot store.
The first option is heavily focused on residential uses, including new townhomes, multi-family residential housing and loft units in the re-use of the existing warehouse. A second option outlines an office/retail focus including a new community park, a music venue and a one-story, 35,000 square foot grocery store. The third option is a sports and entertainment venue, including a new baseball stadium and a hotel.
"This is realistic, this is doable, and this is something the city would support and get behind like we've done with other properties in the downtown," says Schmitt.
Schmitt believes it could take at least three years and $3 million in tax dollars to get the ideas up and running.
"The options, if you look at them and get them done, a lot of it is what people are asking for, but I like the Walmart proposal a lot," says Green Bay City Council President Tom DeWane. "I like the Walmart proposal, they've got a plan and it fits the needs of the constituents in that area."
DeWane believes that the immediate costs to the city that taxpayers would have to cover is much higher than what city staff estimates it to be. Schmitt cautiously stated that environmental clean-up costs are about $1 million, but DeWane thinks it's much higher. Not to mention the loan guarantee the city of Green Bay would be on the hook for should On Broadway, Inc. default on it.
Schmitt says he's not afraid of the project.
"I think if the city got involved and really marketed this properly to a master developer, we feel confident that if the city is patient for another two to three years, that we could deliver the beginnings of this project," said Schmitt.
You can read more about the alternate options here.