Report: Wal-Mart Might Be Interested In Old Borders Sites

CHICAGO (CBS) — A retail expert says Chicago’s soon-to-close Borders bookstores might open up opportunities for Wal-Mart, according to a published report.

In conjunction with its Chapter 11 bankruptcy filing Wednesday, Borders announced that it will close five Chicago stores – at 755 W. North Ave. on the Near North Side, 2917 N. Clark St. in the East Lakeview neighborhood, 4718 N. Broadway in the Uptown neighborhood, 2210 W. 95th St. in the Beverly neighborhood, and 6103 N. Lincoln Ave. in the Northwest Side’s Lincoln Village shopping center.

Another Borders location, at 830 N. Michigan Ave. on the Magnificent Mile, closed last month, and another and at 1539 E. 53rd St. in the Hyde Park neighborhood, is also preparing to close in March after a prior announcement.

The Chicago Sun-Times quoted a retail expert as saying the locations could provide an opportunity for Wal-Mart to pick new sites for its 24 planned Chicago stores.

Speaking to the newspaper, a Wal-Mart spokesman did not address the possibility directly, but said the retail giant was “having hundreds of conversations across the city,” and would consider multi-level sites, the Sun-Times reported.

There was no mention, or speculation, in the Sun-Times article of which specific sites Wal-Mart could conceivably be interested in.

But the East Lakeview Borders store happens to be just down the block from a site where a rumor that a Wal-Mart might move in recently sparked a community outcry.

In December, reports in the Sun-Times and Crain’s Chicago Business indicated that Wal-Mart had signed a letter of intent to move into a space in the Broadway at Surf complex, which is only separated from the Clark Street Borders location by a narrow alley. Some early reports had even suggested that Wal-Mart had already signed a lease for the site and their plans were a done deal.

The rumored Wal-Mart was purported to be moving into a PetSmart store that had recently been vacated. It was to occupy 30,000 square feet for a new “neighborhood market” format store selling groceries and general merchandise.

Immediately, angry neighbors started a Facebok group called “Stop the Lakeview/Lincoln Park Wal-Mart,” which swelled to more than 600 members. About 100 people also packed a community meeting in December.

Many said Wal-Mart would put the retailers that line Broadway and Diversey Parkway out of business and rob the neighborhood of its economy and character.

But at the December community meeting, Ald. Tom Tunney (44th) read a statement saying Wal-Mart had not signed a lease or letter of intent at the Broadway at Surf building. The retailer only said it was evaluating “a number of potential opportunities.”

Still, despite the “no lease and no letter” statement by Wal-Mart, the company has left the door open to making a move on Lakeview and other similar neighborhoods somewhere down the line.

On Thursday, organizer Bruce Beal posted a new message on the wall on the Facebook group, reading: “Walmart is back,” and promised a follow-up with details and plans of action. The posting did not go into further specifics, or mention whether the soon-to-close Borders store was of relevance.

The Borders bookstore opened in 1995, in a space formerly occupied by a Great Ace hardware store in a once-seedy part of the neighborhood then known as New Town.

Broadway At Surf

The Broadway at Surf in the East Lakeview neighborhood. (Credit: CBS)

The Broadway at Surf complex opened two years later, following the demolition of an entire block that once included the Times Square video arcade, the Broadway Girlies adult bookstore and peep show, and the Paradise/Phoenix nightclub, among other small businesses. The building is already zoned for big-box retail, and currently includes a Bed, Bath and Beyond; a Cost Plus World Market; a T.J. Maxx; a Sprint Store; and a Palm Beach Tan salon, as well as a Midwest Orthopaedics clinic.

Wal-Mart Director of Community Affairs Steve Restivo told CBS 2 in July of last year 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, 2010. 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.”

  • Sam Walton

    Let’s put the WalMarts in the food deserts. Leave Lincoln Park/Lake View alone.

  • Tanya Livingston

    Don’t interfere with the free market. Where else can one find a 500GB External Hard Drive for $49.97 and a ream of paper for $2.67? I live better because of Wal-Mart.

    • The Crazy One for your hard drive

  • shoegal

    Our neighborhood needs more mom and pop stores NOT big box stores that turn it into a suburban strip mall… let’s keep neighborhood individuality by saying NO to wal-mart!

    • The Enemy

      Interesting how nobody complained when other big box stores — such as, say, the Borders store that Walmart proposes to replace — moved into your neighborhood. Instead of pretending like it’s big-box stores you object to, be honest enough to admit that Walmart simply doesn’t appeal to your snobby sensibilities.

      • Bruce Alan Beal

        Actually, the neighborhood tried to fight this whole complex being built when it was first proposed a decade ago. Fortunately, we are far beter organized now.

  • lalchi

    I live right near there and to be honest, we could use a grocery store there. The only one within walking distance is The Market Place, which is ridiculously over-priced. I like mom and pop places, but when I’m paying a dollar extra for nearly every item on my grocerty list (adding up to quite a lot over a year), it’s hard to justify.
    Also, people need to remember that the one going into the East Lakeview location is a smaller store. It’s not going to be like the traditional Wal-Marts. It will have much less variety and options, so it is not likely to wipe out all the local stores on Broadway and Clark near there.

    • MS

      From the intersection of Diversey/Clark/Broadway, you have:
      CTA Bus #36 – Treasure Island, Jewel, Whole Foods, Uptown Target
      CTA Bus #22 – Whole Foods

      And for free – you can walk to Trader Joe’s. Or walk 10 minutes to the Diversey L stop, take it 1 stop south, then walk 20 feet into the Dominick’s at Fullerton/Sheffield.

      You are definitely right, there are no options in the area.

  • liloldme

    Aren’t there enough WalMarts? They drive all the little Mom/Pop stores out of business. It’s a shame that our children and grandchildren will never know the wonders of those little Mom/Pop stores we had while growing up. And besides WalMart has the WORST tasting “fresh” meat. Don’t know what the heck they do to the meat but, my God, it is horrible. Needless to say I don’t buy meat at WallyWorld.

  • theoldgraymare

    the meat at walmart is from TYSON, no wonder it tastes bad………..don’t blame walmart for the demise of mom and pop stores, blame taxes upon taxes that keep them from making a profit… to be able to keep their doors open,

  • Bruce Alan Beal

    “Immediately, angry neighbors started a Facebok group called “Stop the Lakeview/Lincoln Park Wal-Mart,” which swelled to more than 600 members. About 100 people also packed a community meeting in December.”

    The Facebook page mentioned about STILL has over 600 angry, anti-Walmart neighbors as members. Walmart should consider this a warning – stay away from this Lakeview site. Period.

    Here’s a link:!/home.php?sk=group_159449284099168&id=177635132280583&notif_t=like

  • Joliet Jake

    You Lakeview people are a bunch of smucks. I wouldn’t leave the sweat off my balls on the sidewalk up there.

    • Bruce Alan Beal

      Speaking only for myself, as one Lakeview resident, I respect the people of Joilet’s right to have a role is establishing their own community’s standards regarding developments in thier area – and we would hope they would do likewise regarding developments in Lakeview in the spirit of being good neighbors – and out of their own self-interest.

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  • Boystown

    […] reps won’t deny their interest. For Beal’s Facebook group’s members, new reports of Walmart showing interest in soon-to-be vacant Borders locations like the nearby Diversey Avenue and Clark Street storefront, it’s deja-vu all over […]

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