Protesters rally outside Walmart demolition site - CBS News 8 - San Diego, CA News Station - KFMB Channel 8

Protesters rally outside Walmart demolition site

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SAN DIEGO (CNS) - A dispute over demolition work at a new Walmart store in Sherman Heights continued Friday, with both sides demonstrating about whether the job was started prematurely.

Members of community and labor-affiliated groups contend that Walmart began demolition work at the iconic Farmer's Market building without issuing proper notice. Earlier this week, they went to court and got the project temporarily shut down pending a hearing on Monday.

Contractors and workers at the site of the future Walmart Neighborhood Market said they have the necessary permits and believe they are being unfairly targeted by special interests.

The store will be smaller than the typical big-box Walmart and mainly focus on groceries, located in a building that dominates the skyline just east of Interstate 5 near downtown. Design plans call for the historic architecture to be maintained.

One of the activists, Georgette Gomez of the Historic Barrio District Community Development Corp. said Walmart was informed from the beginning that the building was important to the neighborhood.

"They assured us over and over they were going to protect the building, they were not going to tear it down," Gomez told CBS 8. "So it was a surprise to us once we started seeing that some of the building was coming down."

Steve Restivo, the senior director of community affairs at Walmart, said the company has been engaging the community and its political representatives for months.

"It's clear that the majority of folks support the jobs our store will bring as well as the new, more affordable grocery options the Neighborhood Market will deliver," Restivo said. "We look forward to a favorable ruling on Monday that allows us to proceed and start serving customers as soon as possible."

Walmart officials said protests are coming from people who aren't from the neighborhood. The work-stoppage is affecting about 100 construction workers, suppliers and truck drivers, according to the company.

A city permit calls for seismic retrofits of the structure, including the removal of the north wall, windows, roof and floor.

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