LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WHAS11) – Metro Council members were at odds Thursday night over the delay in the West Louisville Walmart's progress. There were accusations of secret negotiations happening between a Metro Council member and those filing a lawsuit over the store's design. Now, the attorney, Steve Porter, who represents those suing says some of the council was misinformed and private negotiations were never intended to stall the project any further.
“I wish I had been there,” Steve Porter said.
Those were the first words out of Porter's mouth when we started discussing Thursday night's Metro Council meeting when Council President David Yates accused Councilman Kelly Downard of stalling Walmart's progress.
“I do know you've been in negotiations. I think that is absolutely wrong,” Council president David Yates said to Councilman Kelly Downard.
“That's the lie, that's the lie. You don't know that and it is not the truth,” Downard replied.
Court documents show that Councilman Downard, Porter and a representative from TMG, who owns the empty lot at 18th and Broadway had been negotiating an agreement to put a structure in front of the proposed Walmart.
“He thought he saw an opportunity to get the Bridgewaters, the owners of the land, and my clients together to reach a compromise and he was the facilitator. He should be praised not criticized,” Porter said.
Yates said no one in the council should have been involved in negotiating with Porter. Now Porter is responding.
“They seem to think that our intention was to delay this. And we have been ready since the first of June to sign an agreement to dismiss the case,” Porter said.
This is the potential agreement filed by Porter in June in the court of appeals. Porter represents preservationists who want to see the Walmart sit right along Broadway, instead of having parking lot in the front. The case has been in limbo since November. And Porter says this agreement was intended to speed up the process.
“If the Bridgwaters will do what they have promised they will do verbally, but not in writing, and if the city allocates the money to build the structure on Broadway. If those two things happen, we're ready to dismiss the case,” Porter said.
Now the problem is the company that owns the land, the Bridgewaters, have not signed the agreement and on Thursday night, the Metro Council did not vote on an ordinance proposed by Councilman Kelly Downard to set aside $250,000 to build a structure in front of the Walmart to satisfy the preservationists. County attorneys advised the council to not get involved in negotiations, but Porter said he still hopes the agreement will be signed.
“I sent out an email today with a copy of a letter explaining our position to all of the attorneys involved and asking them to call me and let's get together and end this and let's go ahead and let the Walmart be built,” Porter said.
Porter tells us that as of June 1, TMG had said Walmart was still on board to build at 18th and Broadway.
WHAS11 has reached out to TMG and Walmart but did not receive a comment from either of them.