The Athens Banner-Herald reported Sunday that some advocates are supporting the new project because they hope it will bring more jobs to the northeast Georgia city.
But critics point to several studies that show the employees the retail giant hire are offset by those who lose their jobs when competitors close up shop.
The mixed-use project was the focus of a commission meeting this week.
The NAACP's Clarke County chapter voted to endorse the mixed-use project, and several influential black leaders have begun to speak out in favor of the development.
Critics counter by arguing that Athens needs to offer incentives to lure in better jobs than the ones that Walmart offers.