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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- Would a big box store be bad business for west Louisville?
Some activists are fighting the idea of building a Walmart at the abandoned Philip Morris plant, while others are ready to roll out the welcome mat.
The site has been locked up and unused since Philip Morris moved out some 14 years ago. Mayor Greg Fischer confirms negotiations to bring a major retailer to the property.
The mayor will not name names, but many believe that retailer is Walmart. And that doesn't sit well with a coalition of social justice and pro-labor groups.
At a news conference, they claimed that Walmart would actually hurt west Louisville, providing only low-paying jobs, and driving out small businesses.
"Not only do they pay their workers low, they keep their workers in a situation where they're dependent on Walmart, and they're dependent on government assistance," said Flaco Aleman of Kentucky Jobs with Justice.
"Walmart ends up kind of monopolizing the economic activity in the neighborhood. That's why, the closer you are to a Walmart, the more likely you are to go out of business," added Avery Kolers of the Kentucky Labor Institute.
Walmart calls those claims, "tired rhetoric."
A company spokesperson says Walmart's 28,000 Kentucky employees earn an average of just over $13-an-hour, plus benefits. Walmart also says it pays some $40,000 in taxes to Kentucky.
Vincent Moore of the Justice Resource Center says he's ready to welcome Walmart.
"It would be a great move economically for Walmart to be in this part of town," said Moore. "The contribution that Walmart would make is jobs. There are people that need jobs here in this city."
Still, these activists say they prefer a mixed-use development that would include retail, healthcare and residential. And they're not happy with the secrecy surrounding the project.
"It says to me that there's no accountability, that there's a cloud around local government, and that's not how we're supposed to be," said District 1 Metro Councilwomen Attica Scott. "We should be transparent. This should be a community-driven effort."
Walmart says it is always looking for opportunities but says there is nothing to announce about possibly locating in west Louisville.
A spokesman for the mayor says he's hopeful that a deal will the completed soon.