Plans for Walmart, Publix near UT campus moving forward

Plans for Walmart, Publix near UT campus moving forward

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By MONA NAIR
6 News Reporter

KNOXVILLE (WATE) - Thursday evening the public got to learn more and sound off about plans to bring a new Walmart and Publix near the University of Tennessee campus.

The University Commons project would be located at Cumberland Avenue on Kingston Pike. Developers need $25 million in federal and local incentives to move forward with their plans.

Ten million dollars of that money hinges on the approval of local city and county officials. Part of getting the money involves holding a public forum.

Plans include having a parking lot on the lower level and the Publix and Walmart on the upper level.

Donald Fritz attended the meeting holding a few signs he'd made. One read "We want better paying jobs not Walmart table scraps." Fritz says he's against tax breaks being given to bring in large corporations.

Amber Woodburn, a UT student who spoke at the hearing, has concerns about convenience for pedestrians and bikers. Developers say that while the whole process is about getting the millions needed to make the project a reality, it's also about serving a real need in that part of town.

"There's no fresh produce or fresh food there. Having a place that can serve downtown, the university and Alcoa Highway, that's key," said Jim Harrison from the University Commons development team.

The comments from the public will help officials decide on their next step at a city council meeting being held on Tuesday.

Some at the meeting feel their comments didn't matter and that local leaders are set on bringing in the new shopping area, despite any opposition. "No I really don't think they care. But I wanted to make sure they know some people are against it," Fritz said.

KCDC will be open to hearing comments from the public on the project up until the city council meeting on Tuesday.

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