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Walmart coming to new Kelsey Creek Center

Walmart will occupy 64,000 square feet of the old Kmart site.  - Chad Coleman, Bellevue Reporter
Walmart will occupy 64,000 square feet of the old Kmart site.
— image credit: Chad Coleman, Bellevue Reporter

A new Walmart will be the centerpiece of the rebuilt Kelsey Creek Center.

A Walmart spokesman confirmed Thursday that Walmart will be the grocery tenant that will take over the vacated Kmart site, along with L.A. Fitness.

"We think Walmart can be part of the solution in Bellevue for residents who need a job or want more affordable options close to home," said Walmart spokesman Steven Restivo. "Plus, we see an opportunity to revive a long-dormant retail property and deliver an added economic boost to the area."

The store will occupy 64,000 square feet of the old Kmart site. It will be in the form of the store's "Neighborhood Markets," similar to a 45,000-square foot model announced in Lynnwood earlier this year. Restivo said the store is expected to open in late 2012 and employ 95 people. Previously, no stores existed between Renton and Lynnwood.

The move to bring in a Walmart has created some buzz, with some already coming out against it.

Approximately 50 people turned out Thursday to protest the company's labor practices and the uncertainty surrounding the future of the center.

Following speeches decrying Walmart's insurance and labor policies, the group, organized by the local UFCW 21 grocery union, marched into the office of the property owner PMF Investments. They filled the lobby and hallway, asking anyone they could find if the store was indeed going to be a Walmart. Protestors said they had heard rumors about the store being the choice, but could not get confirmation from the property owners.

Residents' concern over the possibility of a Walmart has made it to City Hall, as well.

At Monday's City Council meeting, Bellevue resident Sonja Rossman, who lives less than half a mile from the Kelsey Creek Center, said was stunned to find out that Walmart may be coming to Bellevue.

Following her testimony, she looked for a response from city staff.

"It's news to me," City Manager Steve Sarkozy told her.

According to Bellevue's Development Services Director Mike Brennan, permitting documents for the site don't require the developer to name future tenants.

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