Months after purchasing the former Great Indoors site in Burbank, Walmart representatives say they plan to open a store there, calling the 120,000-square-foot building a prime location.
Walmart had declined to confirm plans to move into the space until this week, after a feasibility study found a store in Burbank would be successful.
Walmart spokesman Steven Restivo said he expects the company will use all of the 120,000-square-foot building, but added that “leasing opportunities within the store are to be determined.”
Sometimes the mega-retailer leases space to other retailers, such as a small restaurant or nail salon, if it is putting a store in a large building, he said.
Restivo said the company will hold public forums so that residents can share their concerns and give input on what amenities they would like in the store, such as a grocery store or home-improvement section.
They will also discuss whether the store should be open 24 hours a day.
“We want to come into Burbank the right way,” Restivo said.
The dates and locations of the meeting had yet to be determined.
Some residents have been vehemently opposed to a Walmart opening in Burbank, with some establishing accounts on Facebook and Twitter dedicated to an opposition campaign.
The group fighting Walmart has been circulating a letter asking residents who don’t want the store to attend a rally before the Burbank City Council meeting at 6 p.m. on Tuesday.
But there’s little city officials can do because the building is zoned for commercial use, although Walmart would need a conditional-use permit to operate around the clock.
Kate Nixa, one of the opposition group‘s organizers, said she wasn’t surprised by Walmart’s decision.
“We knew that when they bought the property,” she said. “They’re not in the real estate business.”
Michele McKinnie, property manager for the Empire Center, said in an email that her main concern is the traffic that a Walmart store will generate. She also said she didn’t expect the arrival of a Walmart to negatively impact the businesses in the center, including Lowe’s and Target.
At the upcoming public forums, Restivo said Walmart officials will address concerns about the company’s business practices, how it treats employees and the common belief that a store would contribute to higher crime rates.
“We’re finding that the more people learn the facts about the company, the more they value bringing a store to their community,” Restivo said.