MILWAUKEE -- One Milwaukee alderman is accusing the city of not doing enough to save a Walmart store and nearly 300 jobs. Alderman Joe Davis says the city could have prevented this but they disagree.
Four stores learned the bad news in our area Friday morning, January 15th including the Walmart located in Midtown Center on W. Hope Avenue. There is disagreement whether or not one of the stores could have been saved.
"They shut certain departments down already," said a shopper.
Shoppers say there were warning signs.
"It's not as organized as it should be," said a shopper.
Walmart announced it is shutting down its store on Hope Avenue, along with three suburban Walmart neighborhood markets.
It's hitting folks hard.
"It's important to the neighborhood, it doesn't make sense," said a shopper.
Midtown will now have lost both its anchor stores -- Lowe's shut its doors in 2009.
Also gone, nearly 300 jobs, in an area of the city that suffers from high unemployment and poverty.
"Why take a Walmart out of an area that is serving the people," said a shopper.
One Milwaukee alderman is now questioning if the store could have been saved.
"There was over $3 million put aside in order for us to retail at that location. The mayor and commissioner has a lot of explaining to do," said Milwaukee Alderman Joe Davis.
Davis, who is also a candidate for major, says the city set aside millions of dollars for a time just like this, to keep stores here. He points out similar funds have been used to keep large stores in other parts of town.
"They subsidized Bon-Ton downtown with the same agreement, but they can't do the same thing in the African American community with an anchor like Walmart," said Davis.
However, the city says Davis is wrong. The cities commissioner of city development tells FOX6 News, a $2.7 million fund was never designed to keep retailers -- instead, the city says it is intended to help subdivide empty spaces like breaking up the Lowe's into smaller stores.
The city says Walmart made a business decision and they were not going to change their mind. They point out Walmart isn't just shutting down Milwaukee area stores, but 154 locations around the country.
Worldwide, 269 stores are closing. Walmart's CEO says 95% of the stores are within 10-miles of another store, and they are working to transfer employees to other locations.