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Daley Still Upset About Wal-Mart Resistance

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Mayor Richard M. Daley

Mayor Richard M. Daley is still upset that several aldermen blocked the expansion of Wal-Mart in the city. (Credit: CBS)

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CHICAGO (CBS) – Mayor Richard M. Daley is still angry with the fierce opposition in the City Council that kept Wal-Mart from expanding in the city for six years.

Plans for two new Wal-Mart stores in the city were announced on Wednesday. At a news conference, Mayor Daley recalled how after the first city Wal-Mart opened at North and Kilpatrick avenues in 2006, but expansion was delayed after that, and now, the next Supercenter won’t open until 2012.

“I always ask myself why it took six years to get here,” Daley said. “Now who opposed you – who still opposes you – and you’d better figure that out.”

Expansion plans for Wal-Mart 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 Daley vetoed the ordinance not long after it was passed in the summer of 2006.

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.

Initially, Wal-Mart said it planned to build five supercenters in inner-city “food deserts” desperate for shopping choices. But by 2010, the retailer said “dozens” of large and small stores would be coming to Chicago.

Six Wal-Mart stores are now planned:

• Wal-mart Supercenter in Pullman at 111th and Doty Avenue, opening in Spring 2013;
• Wal-mart Supercenter in Chatham at 83rd and Stewart Avenue, opening in Spring 2012;
• Wal-mart Market in the Presidential Towers at Monroe and Jefferson Streets, opening in Fall 2011;
• Wal-mart Market in Auburn Gresham at 76th and Ashland Avenue, opening in Spring 2012;
• Wal-mart Express in West Englewood at 71st and Western Avenue, opening in Winter 2012;
• Wal-mart Express in Chatham at 83rd and Stewart Avenue, opening in Summer 2011.

Neighborhood Market is a mid-sized format for city neighborhoods, a condensed version of the big-box Wal-Marts. The markets typically sell meat, fresh produce and other groceries, and include a pharmacy, deli and bakery.

The smallest format, called Wal-Mart Express, is similar to a 7-Eleven convenience store.

Plans for Wal-Mart expansion have not been welcomed with open arms everywhere in the city. Community outrage erupted in December after a rumor spread that Wal-Mart would be coming to the Broadway at Surf retail complex on Broadway in East Lakeview. At a heated community meeting this week, Ald. Tom Tunney (44th) and real estate group representatives for the building confirmed they have, indeed, met separately with Wal-Mart.

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