The new El Con Walmart opens its doors today without beer or wine on its shelves, but that could soon change.
On Friday, the retail giant and residents from the surrounding neighborhoods finalized a deal where the store will close its doors at 11 every night in exchange for the neighbors dropping their objections to a liquor license.
“We are pleased with the agreement reached with the neighborhood associations and look forward to opening the new Walmart at El Con Mall,” said Walmart’s director of communications Delia Garcia in an email. “We are excited to be part of the revitalization of El Con Mall and the vision for a vibrant midtown economy.”
As a result of the agreement, the City Council voted unanimously Tuesday to instruct City Attorney Mike Rankin to offer no objections during Walmart’s rehearing before the Arizona State Liquor Board this Thursday.
The City Council voted in March to oppose the liquor license after hearing from angry residents.
Then, in July, residents packed an Arizona State Liquor Board hearing to oppose the license, saying late-night drinking could fuel a surge in neighborhood crime.
The liquor board unanimously voted to deny the license.
But despite scoring a victory that night, neighbors, with the assistance of Councilman Steve Kozachik, soon reached out to the company to broker a truce.
Kozachik said the deal offers a lesson in compromise.
“Both sides gained what was most important to them and conceded something to the other side,” Kozachik said. “That’s how good public policy is formed. Making the sausage isn’t pretty, but we got it done and I’m grateful to everybody involved for setting aside differences and finding a solution.”
In addition to the store hours, Walmart also agreed to not sell guns or ammunition at the store while it holds a liquor license, and promised not to apply for a hard-liquor license for at least two years.
The agreement allows Walmart to extend its hours during the holiday shopping season.
The deal is contingent upon Walmart receiving a license and would be in effect for 30 years.