Rumors of Walmart setting up shop in Willets Point were quickly put to an end, after reports that the megastore was in talks with the developers about anchoring a store at Willets West.
The Queens Development Group, a joint venture between Related Companies and Sterling Equities, said in a statement that there has been no communication with Walmart.
“We have not had any talks with Walmart about a location at Willets Point and we have absolutely no intention of discussing this site with them,” the group said. “There have been and will be no negotiations, they are simply not a part of our plan to build an enclosed retail and entertainment destination at Willets Point, that will bring much needed jobs and economic activity to the area and lead to the development of a new neighborhood.”
A Walmart spokesperson said that while there is a public demand for the big box store in the five boroughs, the store did not have anything in the works within the city limits.
“While most New Yorkers want us in the city and we remain interested in ways to better serve local customers, we don’t have any announced projects in New York,” the spokesperson said.
A spokesperson for the New York City Economic Development Corporation (NYCEDC) added that talks or plans for a Willets Point Walmart were completely untrue.
“The developer has had no discussions with WalMart and these reports are absolutely without merit,” the spokesperson said.
In early 2011, there was a major backlash from the city council and small business owners when the store tried to move into the city. The store has been criticized in the past for reputed labor issues.
The idea of Walmart coming to Queens is not protested by all, however, as Councilmember Dan Halloran said he wouldn’t be against the chain coming to the borough and bringing with it thousands of jobs.
“If Walmart violates a single labor practice law, I’d be the first one to call them out on it and make sure they are fully dealt with by the labor department and other agencies,” Halloran said. “But I certainly don’t want to tell them to not bring their jobs here.”