Ahead of University Commons Walmart closing, nearby businesses are hopeful

Local News

Closing day is getting closer and closer for one East Tennessee big-box store. On Friday, the pharmacy at the University Commons Walmart will be closing.

The store near UT’s campus will close its doors for good at this location on Friday March 29.

It’s news we first brought you last month, with store officials sharing the closure was a difficult decision but say there are already three Walmart stores within five miles and store performance was lower at this location.

     More | University Commons Walmart location in Knoxville to close

While that news came as a big surprise, nearby businesses are hopeful.

It was an exciting day back in August 2014 when this Walmart initially opened, the first store to open in the University Commons Development.

Now in 2019, signs are on Walmart’s doors alerting customers to the closing at the end of the month.

“It caught us all off guard. It was all of a sudden. I think we found out through social media,” said Mark Young with Fieldhouse Social.

Fieldhouse Social is a restaurant nearly nextdoor to the big-box store.

“Just on a day-to-day basis, we go there frequently due to supplies that we need in the kitchen and the front of the house. So you hope that something’s going to go in there that can also provide what we’re going to be missing out on now,” said Young.

There’s no word yet on what could be moving in, though many businesses close by to University Commons have high hopes.

“Being down here on a college campus, you hear a lot of rumors, one being a Target. I have my own personal favorites. I’m hoping for a skating rink but I’m not sure if that’ll really happen. Maybe offices perhaps or a Dave and Buster’s would be great so that families could come out here and have a good time,” added Young.

While University Commons was built on an old brownfield site, a property city leaders struggled to fill for years, what’s next doesn’t seem to be a big concern.

“I think in the long run something will eventually go in there. I think it’s too good of an opportunity to not have something in there being so close to the university,” said Young.

We spoke with Joe Burger, President of the Cumberland Avenue Merchants Association who says:

This did come as a surprise to the merchants on Cumberland.  However we understand that their is already work being done to find another tenant.   The Cumberland district is transforming for the better so I have no doubt that some usewill be found for that space that will be both beneficial for the local residents, college  students and staff, as well as the other businesses around Cumberland.

Walmart officials telling us this closure is impacting 160 employees but transfers will be offered to other stores. We’re also told prescriptions will be transferred to the Walbrook Drive location or anywhere a customer requests.

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