Anti-Wal-Mart Facebook Group For East Lakeview Comes Down

UPDATED 05/18/11 11:55 a.m.

CHICAGO (CBS) — The organizer of the Facebook group dedicated to stopping a planned Wal-Mart store in East Lakeview took the group offline over the weekend, saying given recent events, continuing to fight against the store at this point is a “waste of time.”

Over the weekend, organizer Bruce Alan Beal took down the Facebook group, “Stop the Lakeview/Lincoln Park Wal-Mart.” The group had drawn more than 960 members who were opposed to a new Neighborhood Market store in the Broadway at Surf retail complex, located in the 2800 block of North Broadway.

The planned store has drawn heated opposition since rumors about it began flying in December, largely from neighbors who fear the many small businesses that line Broadway and nearby Diversey Parkway and Clark Street will be unable to compete and end up going out of business. The neighbors fear a Wal-Mart will permanently change the character of the neighborhood for worse.

At a community meeting last week, South East Lake View Neighbors Association (SELVN) board member Mike Demetriou announced that Wal-Mart had agreed to a “restrictive covenant,” which would legally limit the store to 33,395 square feet – actually slightly more space than the retailer is planning to take, so as to allow for small expansions for “administrative” purposes. If Wal-Mart elects to expand in violation of the agreement, the restrictive covenant allows the community to take the retailer to court to stop the expansion.

Despite that, members of the group voted 25-4 against the proposed store. But the advisory vote has no impact on whether the store chooses to move in.

Still, Beal said in an e-mail that based on several factors, he no longer believes fighting the East Lakeview Wal-Mart is a viable effort.

He said while his research had shown the majority of neighbors were opposed to Wal-Mart, about 30 percent approved. A cheaper alternative for groceries such as the Wal-Mart store could keep people in those people in the neighborhood, whereas they otherwise might be priced out, Beal said.

Beal also said he has faith in the skills of those who hammered out the restrictive covenant to limit Wal-Mart, and added that powerful institutions seemed to favor the retailer despite the community’s concerns.

He specifically pointed to a recent editorial in the Chicago Tribune in favor of the East Lakeview Wal-Mart, which said opponents objected for “only bad reasons,” and “competition is good,” even if it means a large retailer might wipe out mom-and-pop stores that are “appreciated more than patronized.” Beal also pointed to coverage of the plans for the store in Crain’s Chicago Business.

“Since these two major media outlets have lined up squarely against Lakeview, I think the struggle is over, at this point,” Beal said.

He also said there were no editorials or comparable media coverage when Wal-Mart reportedly eyed a location along a big-box retail corridor on Elston Avenue back in December, and more recently, when Wal-Mart reportedly targeted the old Pearl Art Supplies space at 225 W. Chicago Ave. in the River North neighborhood for a smaller Express store.

In the latter case, Ald. Brendan Reilly (42nd) has gone on record saying he does not believe a Wal-Mart would be well-suited for the location, but offered to help the retailer find another more suitable location close to downtown.

Also recently, Ald. Proco “Joe” Moreno (1st) told CBS Chicago that Wal-Mart had inquired about opening a store in the former Dearborn Wholesale Grocery building at 2274 N. Milwaukee Ave. in Logan Square, and said he “emphatically” told the retailer that Wal-Mart would be poor fit for the neighborhood. He also said he would need a “very, very strong argument” to agree that Wal-Mart would fit anywhere in his ward.

Despite that, a Facebook group fighting against a possible Wal-Mart in Logan Square remains active.

But back in East Lakeview, Ald. Tom Tunney (44th) has refused to come out against Wal-Mart despite requests from the community to do so. At the community meeting last week, Tunney said as far as Wal-Mart expanding in Chicago – and Lakeview – that ship sailed with an agreement with organized labor last summer, and “discriminating” against the retailer now would open up the city to litigation.

Beal wondered why there were only editorials defending Wal-Mart for East Lakeview and not the other neighborhoods. “Was it because we were the only citizen / democratic grassroots led opposition, perhaps?” he wrote.

Either way, fighting the store now is no longer a viable battle, Beal said.

“In the end, maybe we in Lakeview could have lobbied the alderman, or taken on Wal-Mart, or taken on the Tribune and Crain’s – but not all three,” Beal said. Thus, once the restrictive covenant was negotiated, the battle was over, he said.

Beal says he instead plans to take on Wal-Mart citywide, via a new Chicago Neighborhoods First group he is helping organize with a Web site and a Facebook page. The group seeks to help Chicago neighborhoods “find their voice in how development proceeds in their community,” particularly when it comes to multinational chain stores. The arguments are not unlike those used in the fight against the Wal-Mart in East Lakeview.

“Some say that businesses have a ‘right’ to do anything they want – and that to challenge them in any way is ‘anti-competitive,’” the group’s Web site says. “But why should an outside corporation have more “rights” than the people who live in a neighborhood and call it home?”

Meanwhile, some area residents are already trying to resurrect the Facebook group that was shut down. A new Facebook group, “Stop the Lakeview/Lincoln Park Wal-Mart at Broadway & Surf,” was created Wednesday morning.

The group says “Lakeview East has been TOLD that there will be a Walmart at the Broadway and Surf building,” but many people still don’t want the store at all.

As of last week, Wal-Mart had not signed a lease for the East Lakeview store, which would take over two vacant spaces previously occupied by a Wolf Camera and a PetSmart, and sweep out an existing Cost Plus World Market. If the retailer goes head with a lease, its target opening date is spring 2012.

Adam Harrington,

  • Josh Rayborn

    For every dollar you save at Walmart, it costs you a $1.20 in wages. So be careful what you wish for, cheap goods= living cheaply instead of a life of quality. So enjoy third world living Chicago.

    • scoperadio


  • Joe Patroni

    What is the problem with Wal-Mart? Don’t say low wages. These are all entry level jobs and part time jobs for college students, house wives/husbands, second jobs. Retail jobs are not meant to support a family or be a career If you want a high paying job, fininsh school, don’t get pregnant at 18, don’t get convicted of a crime, don’t use drugs or alcohol. Get over it.

    • Shane Truax

      Boy are you last years news, better catch up Joe all that stuff you’re pushing is gone now. Hasn’t anyone told you about the Depression. We don’t have it to give anymore Joe…placement out of college is at 3% Joe. Underemployment on an average nationwide this week is just over 27%. Unemployment averages out nationwide to just below 12%. Now don’t have a cow Joe but you need to keep up with what is going on around you and check out the reasons why people don’t want Wal-Marts in their neighborhoods. This is a nation wide problem with box stores, particularly Wal-Mart and it would behoove you to catch up with the times. Read up my man and stop using those antiquated logistics on people who probably fit most if not all of you criteria.

      • Enrico Martinez Sanchito

        All of the underemployment and unemployment problems you speak of, can be directly blamed on illegal Mexicans. Complete the mass deportations and see what happens to the economy as well as employment.

    • scoperadio

      lacking the ability for americans to grasp real economic issues in our society is the reason wal-mart does so well. Your comment is the kind wal-mart preys on, and prays for.

  • Dino

    it’s inevitable because of the times now, cheap and throw away, that places like Wal Mart will take over supporting the Chinese economy, not ours; another example of unions and greed pricing the US out of the world market The days of retail variety and big nice stores in downtowns like Marshall Fields are over. It’s Macy’s and Walmart, get used to it.

    • scoperadio

      uhhh, American labor is not nearly as much to blame as NAFTA is. Unless you’d like to work for ohhh say 5 cents per hour, maybe your negotiating skills here can bump that up to 6 cents, than you can be like the chinese people you talk about. Would you like american labor to compete with the 6 cents per hour wal-mart pays chinese people to make things? If so, Chinas the place for you

  • Shane Truax

    Marshall Fields was taken over by British American Tobacco in 1982. So it’s been a while. But in many ways Dino I would have to agree that we have sold ourselves down the river by supporting the cheap Chinese goods rather than buying local Mom & Pop.

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  • Ginny

    Why is it that Aldermen Reilly and Moreno said no to Walmart and Tunney couldn’t? Looks like Tunney’s a turncoat. He’s standing up for the 30% who want Walmart? 30% is not enough to get re-elected. I say “throw the bum out!

    • Bruce Alan Beal

      Why is it that The mayor, Crains, and the Tribune betrayed the Lakeview community but not Logans Square and River North? And how is it that a whole boatload of people don’t want to hold the mayor and the major papers accountable for their leading role in this whole mess?

      As it stands today, as soon as Walmart finds sites in Logan Square and River North that do not need zoning or other sorts of heavy aldermanic approval – Walmart WILL force their way into those communities also. Will people then blame Moreno and Reilly? There ARE actual legal lmits to what lderman can do to regulate this types of businesses, under the current law.

      I think our best hope of regulating this type of development is to find some leadership on the new city council who are willing to revisit the issue of reforming the zoning / [planning code citywide to give each alderman more tools to use in dealing with all of the national chains desending on Chicago. Parts of our business zoning code book are several decades behind to times in this regard.

    • scoperadio

      vote his ass the f*uck out next election

  • leo

    When on the one side you have all of Lakeview against this and then on the other side you have Walmart, unfortunately for Alderman Tunney this is ’50/50′.

    It was his call, he listened to his constituent (singular), and he didn’t disappoint.

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  • john

    diversey & clark area already has every major corporate retailer as it is, I’m all for a wal mart. people act like cost plus world market’s some kind of mom and pop

    • scoperadio

      enjoy your wal-mart good luck to ya and your neighborhoods land values LOL

  • Jenny

    I wish this group would have stayed active on Facebook because it was the best source of info for neighbors to find out any information about the Walmart developments since our alderman is not going public with anything. Even if Bruce wants to focus on citywide development, it’s a shame that nearly 1000 people who live nearby don’t have a collective source of information anymore.

    • Jenny

      btw I am several days late to the party on this news bc I googled “What happened to the Lincoln Park/Lakeview Walmart Facebook Group” & only just found this article today. I was worried that Facebook disbanded it bc Walmart shows up as an advertiser on that site.

  • tunafish charlie

    LAKE VIEW is a SLUM…who cares if WAL-MART comes there…i told you guys that you were wasting your time with this face book thing months can’t
    fight CITY HALL and this deal was made before DAILY left office.You guy’s are just a bunch of old yuppies trying to hold on to your old and tire little streets..Don’t you know by now that its the NEO’ CONS that run the world…and WAL-MART in lake view is just the beginning…and remember all the bad RACIST things you were saying if the store moves their…well chickens…come home to …you know the rest

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