Negotiations underway to bring major retailer to old Philip - WDRB 41 Louisville News

Negotiations underway to bring major retailer to old Philip Morris site

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer confirms the city is in negotiations to bring a major retailer to the site of the old Philip Morris plant in West Louisville.

It could bring hundreds of jobs, but not everyone is excited about the possibility of a big box store coming to the neighborhood.

The mayor will not confirm who's involved, but he does say negotiations are underway to develop part of the Philip Morris site at 18th and Broadway.

"It's long been a goal to have productive use of the 18th and Broadway site, so we've got different options we're working on. But they're all in private negotiations right now," said Fischer.

The site has been locked up since Philip Morris closed its cigarette plant here 13 years ago. The developer, TMG, is said to be working with the city to bring in a major retailer.

Walmart expressed interest several years ago, but Mayor Fischer would not confirm that the retail giant is back in play.

"People in the area want more retail support, and there will be spin-off jobs if we can get this project done," he said.

The owner of Broadway Fashion, across the street from the site, said he's not concerned that a big box store could drive out his business. In fact, he said, it might help.

"We sell different merchandise than Walmart. So if they bring Walmart here maybe it will bring a different crowd, different people over here," said Babinta Koita.

But not everyone is so welcoming. Kentucky Jobs with Justice, which has been fighting Walmart for years, wants any new retailer to agree to certain conditions.

"To have an employer come in who's going to mistreat workers, who's going to pay a very sub-par wage, and then suck the economic life out of the community, we have to ask ourselves is that going to benefit us," said Executive Director Flaco Aleman.

The head of the Urban League, Ben Richmond, said he understands the concerns, but adds he's keeping an open mind.  "I want something that's going to be there for the long haul, that's going to take this area of town to a much higher level," he said.

Mayor Fischer would not outline any conditions he may want for the site's occupant.  "We're listening to what people want. And what people are saying in west Louisville is they would like a larger retail presence, and we're working on that," he said.

The mayor did not say where negotiations stand right now or how soon any announcement could come.

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