Mayor Joseph A. Curtatone said he attempted today to "clear the air" during a meeting with Walmart representatives, after the retail giant surprised city leaders when they announced plans to break into the Greater Boston grocery market with a location in Somerville.
"I had an objection that they didn't reach out to us," Curtatone said in a phone interview after the 30-minute meeting.
He declined to describe the Bentonville, Ark., company's response.
"I'm satisfied with their answer," said the mayor.
Representatives for Walmart had contacted the city earlier, he said, but they failed to follow up as plans progressed to convert the former Circuit City location in Assembly Square to a food market.
Curtatone reinforced the city's position in favor of economic development and growth of the commercial tax base, but said that companies looking to do business in Somerville should adhere to the community's expectations.
The retailer has drawn criticism for its employment practices, most recently in a class-action lawsuit that was denied by the Supreme Court, brought on behalf of female employees who alleged discriminatory pay and promotion practices. Nationwide, Wal-Mart employs 1.4 million people, most of whom work full time, according to the company.
"If they intend to sign the lease and they want to do the project here, and they want some public support, from myself and others, they should answer some questions," Curtatone said.
In addition to Curtatone and an economic adviser, present at the meet was the property's landlord, the leasing agent, a Walmart public relations representative, and Ward 1 Alderman William Roche.
The mayor continued to express the city's interest in the concept of a food market on the east side of the city, and called the meeting "productive."
Walmart, meanwhile, has not closed on a deal to lease the property, but Curtatone said he had little doubt the process will move forward. With a lease in hand, the chain would have to apply for a zoning permit, at which point the ball would be back in the city's court.
"I expect them to sign the lease and apply for the permit," Curtatone said. "When we get to that point, we'll have a more in depth and detailed discussion."