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Open House Gives Sneak Peek Into What Wal-Mart Would Mean to Greendale

Wal-Mart representatives and Village Board members were present at last night's open house to explain the proposal and answer questions from the public.

Residents had mixed reviews about Wal-Mart coming to Greendale at last night’s open house at .

The open house featured the proposed Wal-Mart plans on poster boards with representatives from the company and Village Board members addressing concerns from the public. A stream of at least 30 people attended the open house throughout the event. 

The proposed Wal-Mart would be at the old U.S. Bowling Congress on 76th Street.

Residents opposed to Wal-Mart coming into the village said the company has enough stores in the area, including the one on 108th Street in Greenfield and two on 27th Street in Franklin and Milwaukee.

Wal-Mart representatives said the store would fulfill a need in Greendale.

“Greendale doesn’t have a grocery store,” said Lisa Nelson, Senior Manager of Public Affairs at Wal-Mart. “And it’s mainly going to be a grocery store for the community.”

Another concern brought to the table was the aesthetics of Wal-Mart. Residents said the big box store took away the village's small town feel. 

Also mentioned was the redevelopment of Southridge Mall. Simon Property Group, mall owner, has committed to a multi-million dollar redevelopment of the mall and along with that there has been talk of a major anchor store coming into the mall. Residents voiced their concerns that a Wal-Mart could dissuade higher-end stores from setting up in Southridge.

“I think it’s going to bring a whole different clientele that we may not want in Greendale,” said Jean Garrity, an original homeowner. “The village has worked hard to have an upscale image with the shops downtown.  There are other things to bring into the village. We don’t need a Wal-Mart every two miles.  I wonder if other retail clients will be less likely to go to Southridge with a Wal-Mart across the street.”

The proposed Wal-Mart would be located behind two lots that will eventually be sold off to local retailers.  Some said that they like the new Wal-Mart models that try to blend in with a community. 

“From the standpoint of aesthetics, I’m a gardener, and I think Wal-Mart is doing a good job of making it a commercial area friendly,” Susan Archer said.  “This Wal-Mart is going to be an upscale Wal-Mart. It’s going to be a newer style.”

Village President John Hermes said that with the redevelopment Southridge the mall will be increasing in value.

“We’re moving Southridge up the ladder,” Hemes said. “We are increasing the value of Southridge. That will include more upscale things that come into the Southridge market. Does Wal-Mart detract from that? No, it compliments it in traffic flow.”

Some residents are looking forward to the tax base that a big corporate player like Wal-Mart will bring to the village.

“I’m homeowner in Greendale and I am very concerned with the tax base from Greendale and also very concerned about the people in Greendale,” Archer said. “People in Greendale have been hit hard by the taxes in Greendale. I think it’s very important for us to look at our tax base as a city. From that standpoint I think Wal-Mart will add a lot to the tax base.”

The current property where Wal-Mart will be is valued at $4 million, according to Hermes. Once development is done Hermes said the estimated value would go up to anywhere from $10 million to $15 million.

Others said that they would like to see a Woodman’s, Trader Joes or some other kind of grocery store.

But Wal-Mart is the only offer they have right now, Hermes said. He also said that Greendale could potentially face a lawsuit from Wal-Mart because the village cannot discriminate against them. The area is zoned for businesses like Wal-Mart.

“The village cannot discriminate in the businesses that occupy pieces of property that are already zoned in for that type of business,” Hermes said. “For us to say no Wal-Mart in Greendale in that particular property they would have us in court the next day. They are our only proposal and we have to move forward with their proposal.”

The village can have input on how the Wal-Mart will look within legal zoning measures. Wal-Mart officials also said they try to work with the community when constructing a Wal-Mart. A few week ago residents of Caledonia showed displeasure of a new Wal-Mart in their community.

Nelson said Wal-Mart is going back to the drawing board in Caledonia.

“We have a business model, but there is certainly things we can do in development to make it friendly to the neighborhood and community because we are going to be a neighbor with that community,” Nelson said.  “If truck routes in the neighborhood need to change the neighbors knows best where those trucks need to go to reduce the impact in the neighborhood.”

Other people addressed the traffic congestion on 76th Street and the possibility of Wal-Mart expanding into a bigger, less friendly store in the future.

“That’s a good problem (traffic) to have when your business district is congested,” Hermes said. “It’s what the tenant makeup wants. In development of this proposal we have mandated that they (Wal-Mart) conduct a traffic study for the 76th Street corridor.”

As for future Wal-Mart expansion in Greendale, Hermes says he is not concerned with expansion because there is no additional space in the current parcel. Nelson also stated that Wal-Mart has no intention of expanding and the Greendale module is mainly focused on a market grocery and pharmacy.

Wal-Mart is no stranger to bad publicity with most recently an employment discrimination class-action suit. Residents, such as Garrity, also addressed concerns of unfair labor practice in Wal-Mart.

Others disagreed with that notion.

“Wal-Mart is a better corporate citizen than what people give them credit,” said community member Dave Miller. “I think that when a community group, school, promotions committee or celebrations committee ask for assistance I think Wal-Mart will be anxious to help.”

Wal-Mart is among other major development being done to the 76th Street Corridor. Greendale has two tax increment financing districts. Construction has started on the first TIF district of a $17 million project of the 90-unit senior housing complex adjecent to Southridge. The TIF district is the $52 million dollar project to redevelop Southridge Mall.

"As a village president I have to look at the business end of this deal and what it means to this village and the economics and sustanbility for the future of this community and we have asked the owners of the mall and we have asked community now," Hermes said. "We believe from the business aspect that any good commercial corridor or retail corrider has a makeup of a great retail tenant. That includes major retailer such as Wal-Mart."

The planning commission will be meeting on Wednesday, April 13 at 7 p.m. at the to discuss the Wal-Mart development and comments from the open house.

Carol L. April 09, 2011 at 02:11 PM
I would accept a Wal-Mart grocery store/pharmacy. The closest grocery-style Wal-Mart is on S. 27th & Oklahoma, and it's beautifully appointed with an attractive interior. Wal-Mart sells "name brand" groceries, and they are not priced particularly low, so I don't anticipate there would be "low life" shopping there, as the first commenter seems to imply. Greendale STILL has its "village atmosphere" in its downtown area. I think people perceive of S 76th as belonging Greenfield, anyway. So why not build it? South 76th Street is becoming a "ghost town" with the closing of most of the businesses a little south of Edgerton and up to Borders. And who knows what will happen to the M&I building, with the merger. Let's start attracting businesses and stop finding reasons to halt progress.
Bruce Barry April 09, 2011 at 08:43 PM
Wal-Mart is moving Greendale up the ladder according to Hermes - The President of Greendale! Another pronouncement by the President - Just like he declared the economy is better on Fox 6. Who does this guy think he is and why do we put up with this?
Bruce Barry April 09, 2011 at 08:53 PM
Thanks Bob Greendale and Walmart By Bob DeRoche Throughout the fall and winter Greendale residents heard little bits of information about the Walmart Company being interested in a site across South 76th Street from Southridge. There didn’t seem to be much public discussion about it at Village Board Meetings. Most of the development discussions involved the construction of a 90-unit senior housing complex adjacent to Southridge which will start soon. Now, all of a sudden, we are being told that Village officials have scheduled a public open house on April 7 at the high school to present a proposal and solicit public input on development of a Walmart in Greendale (read this to mean construction of a Walmart in Greendale). Even without seeing the proposal, I am opposed to this. Here is another aspect of this proposal: Does the corporation that operates Southridge want a Walmart across the street when they are trying to get some middle to high end stores to move into the Mall? Let’s not allow a Walmart to disrupt what we value in Greendale. There must be other good ways to produce tax revenue.
Bren April 10, 2011 at 04:09 AM
I attended the Open House and spoke to a Greendale rep about this. He said the same things that village leaders across America say when Wal Mart lands on their doorstep, we're going to be tough and make sure they follow the rules, etc. And when Walmart launches its product targeting and price undercutting campaigns and steamrolls the village board as it does in every American town, there will be a wringing of hands and a closing of small independently owned shops. The folks who lose their jobs will end up at Walmart as they always do, making less money and probably ending up on Badgercare. Stage II, Walmart 2.0: Walmart will eventually decide it needs to return to its default monster box store format, build a bigger store nearby, and leave an obviously Walmart empty store box behind, with no money for the village or town to convert it into something it can actually use. At least the empty building there now is attractive. I can't shop at Walmart because I know that by doing so I would be perpetuating outsourcing of American jobs and exploitation of foreign workers. I would be perpetuating egregious hiring/management practices, and giving tacit agreement to abysmal employee wages and woeful health insurance (Walmart employee orientation also includes instruction on how to file for states' health programs). I wish that instead of letting Walmart come to Greendale, the village board would have employed a little shoe leather and found a good match for our village instead.
Lena April 10, 2011 at 11:21 AM
I agree with Bruce and Bren . I was puzzled at the open house: why do we even look at the pictures of Wal Mart? Shouldn't we first vote on the proposal of Wal Mart coming to Greendale first and then decide on the color of bricks they are going to use for the building? How about referendum and hear what the people of Greendale want? Is it already a done deal, do we still have a choice and chance to say NO ?
Kathy Borowski April 10, 2011 at 12:20 PM
Oh my God. Absolutely nothing I said in my message gives any indication I am talking about "low life," whatever you think that means. I would actually appreciate your definition. I was talking about quality of product and loss of decent jobs provided by local business. WalMart has a long history of undercutting prices, not providing full-time jobs with healthcare people can afford, major discrimination against women - I think there a lawsuits still going on now, and the list goes on. Do the "google," and learn something. Your talking about someone (me) who lived in New York City and worked in the South Bronx without fear. I moved to Greendale in the very early 60's as a 14 year old, when the low-life in this Village were working hard to keep Black people out. That's what I think low-life is. And, quite frankly, I think the whole WalMart family of owners could be considered low-life for all the above mentioned reasons, and the ones I didn't mention. Careful with your interpretations. I was very clear about what I was saying.
Teresa L Johnson April 10, 2011 at 01:36 PM
First let me premise this by saying I do not believe a Walmart is a good fit for Greendale. Who is the person in Greendale that is supposed to attract New business? Why is there NO other grocery stores being sought out to come to our wonderful little village. Why not Trader Joes, whole foods, a Metro market II, gooseburys, II. I dont want a conglomorate like wallyworld taking over my little slice of heaven, but we have to consider real opportunities - the lot is vacant, tax relief, more traffic, more people....people then going to Southridge. For the person above that complains about walmart n china, may I just say that in America, any store that you shop in will have products from China because our dumb asses didn't want the pollution that it makes. Try to find a steel sports water bottle that is made in America very difficult.
Kathy Borowski April 10, 2011 at 02:00 PM
WalMart opened the door and led the parade of jobs out of this country by forcing their suppliers to sell products at such cheap prices that manufacturers began moving operations overseas for cheap labor at slave wages. They are known to wreck communities and the small businesses from those communities. All this is well documented. 60 minutes has done pieces on it as well as those people who have been researching this for years. It's your local stores and the people who live in your community providing those services and working in those businesses that deserve our support. Going back to the early 60's and graduating from Greendale High in '67, I believe there was a grocery store in the Village at one time. It didn't last. We have 3 grocery stores within a 1 mile limit of Greendale. How is that not enough? Quite frankly, as people who live in the United States, we are overwhelmed by all the choices available to us. Talk to people from other countries and they are often shocked by all the "stuff", most especially the products in grocery stores, available to us. And, yet, we want bigger stores with more "stuff." I think it's time to be more thoughtful about what we really need. I don't see how yet another grocery store is it. It's the difference between a "want" and a real, honest-to-god need.
Lena April 10, 2011 at 02:54 PM
Good point, Kathy!
Jay Warner April 14, 2011 at 02:59 AM
They ask you to choose the color of brick so you will forget the _other_ decision -- is a new Walmart good for Greendale. The Village Pres. wants/needs the tax revenue. You need to find out how Walmart performed at other locations (# police calls, cleanliness, etc.), exactly how much (within a couple dollars:) tax revenue will actually come home to Greendale [In Caledonia, it's about $70,000 out of a total tax real estate tax bill of around $230,000], and all like that. The web site, http://www.ccrep.org/, has lots of good information, but focused on their neighborhood. The Village Pres is right - he cannot refuse a reasonable offer for development simply because he doesn't like the company. BUT, the Village can put restrictions and conditions on things that directly influence the nature of Greendale. How well will they keep it cleaned up, what they will do if they ever leave the building (may need an escrow fund to pay for demolition), and on and on. Walmart has abandoned 5 stores in WI already I don't care who owns them - I look at the name on the building, which I can still see. Good luck finding out how well Walmart will suit Greendale. If you don't get the info, I suspect your Village Board will not, either.
Kathy Aschebrock April 15, 2011 at 05:23 AM
Caledonia, is another of the sites they want to build.Thanks but no thanks, especially when they want our village to re-zone from residential to commercial just for them. Those of us that oppose them building on 4mile rd and hwy31 formed a group ,Caledonia Coalition for Reasonable Economic Planning. web site CCREP.org. You might find it very interesting to see what we found on Wal-mart . From the trash to police calls to their stores etc. It's an EYE OPENER. Also can see what some think on Caledonia Patch. They are planning to build in South Milwaukee TOO!
Kathy Aschebrock April 15, 2011 at 05:46 AM
That should have said, Caledonia Coalition for Responsible Economic Planning !
AB April 15, 2011 at 08:41 AM
There is no such thing as an "upscale" Walmart. I've seen first hand the damage Walmart has had on the community where I grew up. Believe me when I say it will be much more trouble than it's worth. First, it will be all shiny, new, and well kept. Then, you will see many people from outside our community not just shopping, but disrespecting the store, it's employees, and the area surrounding it. This will put a strain on the police force, drive home prices down, and cause other stores along that corridor to leave and re-root further down in Franklin or Hales Corners. Southridge will become Northridge II. Sure, it will have a grocery, but after two years, who will want to shop there? Three words: major bus line. Of course it will start of small, and they will say it will "blend" in with the surroundings. How long will that last? They will soon want to expand, and they will certainly have the room because Bed Bath and Beyond will have moved, and that little strip mall will be abandoned. The Village board will agree, because we will need the additional tax revenue. It's a vicious cycle. Why do you think communities like Mequon, Brookfield and Shorewood have opposed Walmart? They know the truth and the history. It seems it is all but a done deal, so I don't know how any one opinion would matter anyway. A lawsuit? Really? Way to make everyone fearful so they have no choice but to agree to something they may regret. Greendale, we can do so much better.
Kathy Borowski April 15, 2011 at 12:37 PM
To the last 3 posts, I add an "amen." It's worth asking what the people making this decision are going to get in return. There always seems to be payola, of some sort, involved in this sort of thing. I hope this is not a done deal. If those other communities have managed to keep this garbage store out, then so can we. How do we start the process? I'm in.
Kathy Borowski April 15, 2011 at 12:43 PM
I urge people to google "Caledonia Coalition for Responsible Economic Planning" and begin reading information about WalMart that they have already put together. It's enlightening, and depressing, but I think we have to begin somewhere. Let's see further responses to this after people have done some reading. And, a big thanks to them for doing this important research that, perhaps, the rest of us can benefit from.
Sunny April 15, 2011 at 08:35 PM
Thank you, AB. Finally somebody has the guts to say the truth.No we don't want Walmart because it IS garbage store that spreads problems and ruins our cities and villages. Does anybody know what we should do?
Bren April 15, 2011 at 09:55 PM
I think it's too late. As I indicated in an earlier post, the Greendale rep at the Open House shared that the village could be sued if it tries to tell Wal Mart "no thanks." I asked what companies had turned down the site before the village posted the RFP and he didn't answer (in my house that means "you won't like the answer"). I wish some effort with surveys and/or focus groups had been made to determine what Greendale citizens would have liked, and then contact made with those companies, instead of the laziness which has resulted in Wal Mart. This was not good stewardship or long-range planning for a national historic community. For what it's worth, I'm boycotting the Wal Mart, and my votes in the next village election will reflect my displeasure.
Sunny April 15, 2011 at 10:46 PM
Bren , what you said is very scary. Are we that helpless?
Kathy Aschebrock April 15, 2011 at 10:50 PM
Sunny. You can start by contacting your Village President, the Trustee's and any one else in office. Let them know you oppose the Walmart store, Just like here in Caledonia they are trying to sell it as a glorious addition to your community. Organize your neighbors, The bigger the voice the more they will listen. Figure out what the village will actual be getting in revenue. Because you'll be surprised just how little will go to the village tax base. The expenses will end up costing you more in Police , Fire Department, etc. services then it 's worth. Check out CCREP.ORG. We are also fighting to keep Walmart from building here . They want land re-zoned here,just so they can put another store up.
Sunny April 15, 2011 at 11:58 PM
Kathy, you are right. We need a leader though. I ll be happy to help but we need somebody who is experienced to deal with the Village Fathers.
AB April 16, 2011 at 02:06 AM
That is such a rotten scare tactic to use - being sued. What is worse, we, as residents, never really had an opportunity to voice our opinion on whether we WANTED Walmart here, only how it would look once it was here... as if that would make it all better. Seeing that there was only 30 people at the initial viewing/input session, I'm guessing people in the community really don't give a rats behind. This whole thing is so sad.
Sunny April 16, 2011 at 02:46 AM
AB, I think people in the community do care, they just don't know how to handle the matter. We don't really know what are our rights as residents and tax payers.
Kathy Aschebrock April 16, 2011 at 02:51 AM
Start a petition in your neighborhood , Talk to people, see if they know of anyone that has either been in office or had ran for office in the past. Someone that has knowledge of the inner workings of the Village. So you are being told the Walmart will sue if they are no able to build, So in other words anyone can decide they want to open a business and the community has no say. Does that include a Strip Club/Adult entertainment , Skinhead organization,etc, that sure don't sound right to me. Shouldn't the people of the Village have a say in how it moves forward? Not just the Village Fathers !
Kathy Aschebrock April 16, 2011 at 02:56 AM
Contact CCREP.org ask them for advice on how to get started?
Lory Bresina April 16, 2011 at 04:10 AM
Who has the decision making authority? Is it the Village president or the entire board? Or, if a business meets all of the zoning laws and other regulations, can a community discriminate against them and stop them from building? I remember when the "adult entertainment" store on 27th and Rawson was being forced to close down because of various violations. Then, in a flash, another business took it over and opened the same type of store. The government officials remarked that just because they or a majority of the public did not approve of this type of store, that wasn't reason enough to stop it. I guess it is considered a type of unfair discrimination. It's not just the threat of a lawsuit. It's the likelihood of Walmart winning the lawsuit (and perhaps the Village of Greendale incurring legal fees for both parties). @Jay- Why is the actual tax revenue so much less in Caledonia than the original estimate? Is it because of increased police/firemen expenses?
Kathy Borowski April 16, 2011 at 01:40 PM
OK. People are now asking good questions. We have to start somewhere, and maybe that means that the few people expressing an interest in at least talking about what we do next should meet and draw up a plan. Let us be our own leaders and see who else we can get on board to work with us. I think we need to meet ASAP. I would be happy to check with the library to see if their meeting room is available, or possibly meet at the restaurant in the Village (not open on Mondays, but we can work around that.) Right now I can meet weekends or during the day with notice, and certainly evenings. We must start somewhere, and we must start immediately. It doesn't matter if there are only 2 or 3 of us at the first meeting, at least we can say we tried. What happened in Madison recently should be an inspiration to all of us. my email address is: kathysart_decoration@yahoo.com for anyone interested in following up on this.
Lena April 20, 2011 at 11:16 AM
Public hearing - June 7. They are even talking about 24 hours open Wal Mart.
Bren April 20, 2011 at 03:50 PM
Sunny, I do fear it may be too late. All the rep I talked to would say is "We sent out a RFP and Walmart was the only retailer that responded." I'm not an attorney, but the only option I could think of was to suggest talking the property off the market until an appropriate retailer could be found. He wouldn't respond to that either so it's not an option or the village board wants the Walmart. I guess we should all get used to our elected government officials ignoring their constituents' wishes and following their own agenda. And I believe the article has a typo-the correct number in attendance is probably closer to 300-there were at least 75-100 people present when I was there. Another guest told us that a Walmart rep told her this would be a 24-hour store, so yes, we will have traffic 24 hours/day in and around Greendale. Other communities that have tried to stop Walmart at this point have been sued/steamrolled. A boycott will do little good because people from other communities will drive out to shop there. Lady Bird Johnson wrote about the "homogenization" of America in the '60s-how commercialization was destroying the unique flavor of American communities. And it's true. Bluemound Rd., 76th and 27th Sts., Pt. Washington Rd., etc., all look the same. Issues of traffic and community wishes aside, we have a responsibility to preserve and protect Greendale's heritage for the future.
Phil Reitz April 26, 2011 at 01:13 AM
Walmart. It even sounds declasse.
Sunny April 29, 2011 at 12:30 PM
You got that right, Phil

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