CHICAGO (CBS) – Wal-Mart is hoping to open a store in a trendy part of the East Lakeview neighborhood, according to a published report.
Quoting “real estate sources,” Crain’s Chicago Real Estate Daily reported that Wal-Mart hopes to lease 30,000 square feet in the Broadway at Surf complex, at 2840 N. Broadway.
The store would be a Neighborhood Market and would focus on groceries, according to Crain’s. The store would be the first in an affluent city neighborhood, and would be one of several dozen stores that Wal-Mart plans to open across the city.
A spokesman told Crain’s that no deal is finalized, but that executives at Wal-Mart are “familiar” with an availability in the Broadway at Surf complex.
Lakeview activist Bruce Beal started working the phones shortly after the Crain’s article was published.
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“There is no support among any constituency in this area for this idea,” Beal said. “It’s just a really bad site for this kind of a development. Set aside all of the problems with Wal-Mart. The intersection of Diversey, Clark and Broadway is a D-minus-rated intersection that is just a horrific traffic and population management problem.”
Beal also pointed out that there are already two grocery stores within a block-and-a-half, so the neighborhood isn’t in need of another grocery.
Ald. Tom Tunney (44th) told Crain’s he hadn’t heard of any plans by Wal-Mart, but it would have to be “vetted” through a “community process.”
Beal said that Tunney “will come to understand there is no support at all in this community for a Wal-Mart.”
A Wal-Mart spokesman told Crain’s that the retailer is negotiating for locations all around the city, and might announce several sites in the coming months.
The Broadway at Surf complex currently houses a handful of busy and popular stores — a T.J. Maxx, a Bed Bath and Beyond, and a Cost Plus World Market. But it has seen several vacancies in recent years, and currently, storefronts that once housed a PetSmart, a Wolf Camera store, a Hollywood Video store, and the Maui Wowi Hawaiian coffee and smoothie café, all sit vacant.
The complex takes up nearly a full block on the west side of Broadway, between Surf Street and the alley next to the Borders bookstore just north of Diversey. It opened in 1997 after developers razed all the buildings on the once-seedy block, which included the Times Square video arcade, the Broadway Girlies adult bookstore and peep show, Brian Boru’s tavern and the Phoenix nightclub.
Currently, there is only one Wal-Mart store in the city, at North and Kilpatrick avenues on the West Side. Two others are set to open in 2012, in the Pullman Park development at 111th Street and the Bishop Ford Freeway, and at 83rd Street and Stewart Avenue in the Chatham neighborhood.
After the West Side store opened in 2006, expansion plans were put on hold when the City Council passed an ordinance that required big-box retailers to pay a minimum of $10 per hour and $3 hourly in benefits. Mayor Richard M. Daley vetoed the ordinance not long after it was passed.
Wal-Mart finally got the green light for expansion when it reached a deal with labor unions to set starting wages at $8.75 per hour, which is 50 cents less than unions had wanted.
Wal-Mart Director of Community Affairs Steve Restivo told CBS 2 in July that the retailer is planning “several dozen stores across the city over the next five years.”
Some will be as small as 20,000 to 30,000 square feet, while others will be “more traditional sizes that people are used to,” Restivo told CBS 2 on July 1. He said Wal-Mart is looking across the whole city for possible store sites, “with a special focus on the South and West sides – especially in those self-identified food deserts.”
But an East Lakeview Wal-Mart would find competition from a host of other grocery stores. Within about a mile of the site where Wal-Mart reportedly wants to locate are a Jewel-Osco at 3531 N. Broadway, a Treasure Island at 3460 N. Broadway, The Market Place at 521 W. Diversey Pkwy., Lincoln Park Market at 2500 N. Clark St., and a Whole Foods at 3640 N. Halsted St. A Trader Joe’s is also under construction at 667 W. Diversey Pkwy.