Lawyer on Walmart debacle: We don't think that it was our fault at all

Lawyer on Walmart debacle: We don't think that it was our fault at all
This is the site at Dixie Highway and Broadway. (Source: WAVE 3 News)
This is the site at Dixie Highway and Broadway. (Source: WAVE 3 News)

LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - The plan to build a Walmart store in west Louisville has come to an end.

"We are proud of this dirt, so now we get to keep our dirt," Meshorn Daniels, who lives near the site, said on Friday.

The Bentonville, Arkansas retailer had planned to build a store at Dixie Highway and West Broadway in the California neighborhood.

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On his Twitter page, Mayor Greg Fischer posted that Walmart had canceled the planned store.

During a late afternoon news conference outside Metro Hall, Fischer said 99.9 percent of the community wanted the Walmart to be built.

"The frustrating truth is had it not been for the lawsuit brought by a very small group of citizens, Walmart would be open today," Fischer said.

In an interview at our WAVE 3 News Studios, Reverend Clay Calloway voiced his disappointment.

"The lawsuit was filed by Mr. Porter who has no interest in west Louisville, has no history of interest in west Louisville. If there was no lawsuit, there would be a project," he said.

"We don't think that it was our fault at all," Steve Porter answered back during the same interview. "We were ready to compromise. We signed that agreement."

Porter represents the plaintiffs who are made up of preservationists neighborhood and design groups. He said they had an agreement with the property owners to add new buildings next to the Walmart. When the property owners didn't sign - they sued.

"They said verbally that they would do that and then never would sign any papers that agreed to do that," Porter said.

That argument is insignificant to people like MoSher Daniels who lives near the site.

"We get to suffer because other people who didn't take the time to think that their decision affects everybody," he said.

Daniels is a homeowner who was counting on the Walmart to help his property value.

Meanwhile Councilwoman Jessica Green didn't mince her words.

"It seems like the only thing that we can get here is heroin, homicides and maybe a biodigester if we're lucky," she said.

Green blames the Mayor's administration for not pushing enough.

"This is what we're left with. This is what we've got," she said of the empty, weed filled lot.

"I understand that there's a high level of frustration here but the bottom line is the city cannot control the courts," Fischer said during the press conference.

But Daniels is tired of driving by the empty lot and wonders if those involved in the fallout do too.

"Thank you for allowing us to keep our dirt," he said.

Fischer went on to say the news was not only frustrating for him but also for the citizens of the Russell, California, Shawnee and other West Louisville neighborhoods that would have the primary customers of the store.

The deal with Walmart, Fischer said, was put together during the tail end of the recession. With the economy better now, Fischer hopes that will mean good things for the former cigarette manufacturing site.

Anne Hatfield, a Walmart spokesperson, released the following statement to WAVE 3 News:

"After much deliberation and consideration of various business factors and the extensive delays to the project, we have decided not to pursue development of a new store in West Louisville at this time. We commend the visionary leadership and ardent support of Mayor Fischer who has been an advocate and champion for the West Louisville community since we began this project nearly three years ago. We remain committed to serving our customers throughout the Commonwealth and look forward to continuing to innovate our services and invest in improving our existing stores throughout the region."

We reached out to the property owners for comment, but they did not return our call as of Friday evening.

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