A group calling itself Citizens United to Preserve Boulder is organizing a rally Tuesday evening in protest of the possibility of a Walmart or another "big box" retailer opening in Boulder.
The group plans to organize outside the Boulder Municipal Building, 1777 Broadway, prior to the City Council meeting and to also speak during the public comment portion of the hearing.
"Walmart may be using deceptive practices to build a store in Boulder," the group claimed in a flier about the rally, also citing a recent Daily Camera article. "Boulder's mayor and City Council claim not to know what's happening. Demand that City Council hold a public hearing to get to the bottom of this.
"Please join a rally to protect Boulder's workers, jobs and local businesses from Walmart."
The Boulder County Democratic Party distributed information via email and its website about the rally and a related online petition to "Keep Walmart out of Boulder." But party officials didn't organize the event and don't have a stance on the issue, said Dan Gould, chairman of the Boulder County Democratic Party.
Organizers of the rally did not return emails seeking comment.
As of Monday night, the online petition had garnered 227 signatures since its creation on Sept. 13.
Earlier this summer, building permits were submitted to the city for tenant finishes for a nearly 52,000-square-foot grocery store at Diagonal Plaza, located off 28th Street and Iris Avenue, in Boulder.
No identifiable information about the occupant of the space was included in the building permits. The city's economic vitality coordinator, mayor and senior planning staff members have said that the applicant of the permit has not provided information about the occupant to Boulder officials.
Based on information from third-party sources, Boulder officials believe that Walmart plans to move into the space with a grocery store use, said Matt Appelbaum, Boulder's mayor. A 52,000-square-foot grocery is an allowed use at the Diagonal Plaza, he said.
"We do have to play by the rules, and the rules are that is a legal-sized store in that shopping center," he said. "It meets all the criteria we laid out for (the commercial center), but we don't pick tenants. We just don't pick tenants."
If the occupant of the space were to seek a significant expansion of its store in the future, Appelbaum said such a move would require a site review and city approval.
Charles Ferro, Boulder's land use review manager, said building permits require the signature of the property owner or an authorized agent of the property owner. It is not uncommon for the tenant to be different than the property owner, he added.
"Our focus from a zoning perspective is on the use and not necessarily on an operator," Ferro said.
It also is possible that city officials and the public might not know the tenant's name until a sign permit is submitted, he said.
As of Monday, no sign permit has been submitted for 3303 30th St.
Speculation has circulated that Bentonville, Ark.-based Walmart is the tenant that will occupy the store at 3303 30th St.
Floor plans and additional information provided in the building permits -- including a store number, certain paint colors, shelving materials, cart corrals and size -- appear to bear some similarities to Walmart's grocery-focused Neighborhood Market stores.
Neither the owner of the 3303 30th St. property nor Walmart has returned calls or emails from the Camera seeking comment. Walmart has not filed an application for a business or sales tax license with the city of Boulder, said Mishawn Cook, the city's tax and license manager.
Other grocery operators including King Soopers, Whole Foods, Natural Grocers By Vitamin Cottage, Save-A-Lot, Lucky's and Alfalfa's have told the Camera they are not the operator of that grocery store. Safeway has a 77,000-square-foot store west of Diagonal Plaza across 28th Street.
Contact Camera Business Writer Alicia Wallace at 303-473-1332 or email@example.com.