CHICAGO (CBS) – Ald. Proco “Joe” Moreno (1st) said Tuesday that Wal-Mart would be an ill-fitting addition to his ward, and says he told the retailer as much.
Moreno said Wal-Mart approached him sometime back about the possibility of opening a smaller-footprint store in the shuttered former Dearborn Wholesale Grocery building at 2274 N. Milwaukee Ave., and he “emphatically” gave the retailer his opinion on that idea.
“I was frank with them, and said my vision for Milwaukee Avenue is not to have a big-box store located in that facility,” Moreno said.
He says the retailer has not contacted him since.
Wal-Mart would not be able to move into the location without gutting the building, cutting curbs and making other changes that would require aldermanic approval, Moreno said.
He said he would like to see the retailer focusing on the “food deserts” in which the city estimates 550,000 residents of Chicago live.
“I don’t have a food desert,” Moreno said.
In fact, a locally-owned produce store is already located right around the corner from the building Wal-Mart was looking at, and some locally-oriented grocery stores that “fit the vision” for Milwaukee Avenue have expressed interest in the old Dearborn grocery space since Wal-Mart, Moreno said.
“I’m not going to say Wal-Mart doesn’t have a place in the world, but I would need to see a very, very strong argument to see that that place is in the 1st Ward,” Moreno said, noting that Aldi, Target and Jewel are already located in the ward.
A possible Wal-Mart in the ward has been a hot topic on Facebook. In just one day, a Facebook group dedicated to stopping a Wal-Mart from moving into the neighborhood has attracted more than 350 members who want to be sure the retailer doesn’t move into Logan Square.
“Wal-Mart doesn’t have a reputation for being a good neighbor, and we’re not about to roll out the welcome mat for a company that is going to harm the people or small businesses of our neighborhood,” said Kathleen Duffy, organizer of the group “NO Wal-Mart in Logan Square.”
Wal-Mart has officially announced finalized plans for six new stores of varying sizes in the city — five of them on the South and Southwest sides, and one in the Presidential Towers complex on the Near West Side.
The retailer has also presented plans for a Wal-Mart Market store focused primarily on groceries in the East Lakeview neighborhood, which has itself drawn heated opposition from neighbors.
Opponents of Wal-Mart in East Lakeview are continuing their organizing efforts this week by hosting a free screening of the documentary “Wal-Mart: The High Cost of Low Prices” Wednesday evening at the Landmark Century Cinema, located at 2828 N. Clark St. just half a block from the proposed Wal-Mart site.
Adam Harrington, cbschicago.com