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UPDATED 06/29/11 1:30 p.m.
CHICAGO (CBS) — When the Gay Pride Parade comes around next year, the floats and marchers might be passing not one, but two Wal-Mart stores on the route.
While controversy has largely died down about the planned Wal-Mart Neighborhood Market store in the Broadway at Surf building, at 2840 N. Broadway, another smaller store is now reportedly planned for a building exactly a mile to the north, at 3636 N. Broadway.
The Belmont Harbor Neighbors Association reported that the long-vacant building, which formerly housed Recycled Paper Greetings, was sold in May, and Wal-Mart has already filed building permits for interior alternations to open a 14,086 square-foot store.
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An earlier Crain’s article indicated that the building was purchased for $5.7 million by Northfield-based investment firm JSM, and that it would be turned into a self-storage facility.
But now, Crain’s says plans for a Wal-Mart are a done deal – even though the alderman for the area, Ald. James Cappleman (46th) said he hadn’t heard about the plans until an inquiry by the newspaper.
Cappleman told Crain’s he was concerned that he had not heard about the store until plans were already so far ahead.
The building the Wal-Mart would occupy previously housed a dairy and candy company, and most recently the Recycled Paper Greetings card company, which moved out and left the building vacant in 2007. It is known in the neighborhood for the old-fashioned wooden water tank in the back of the structure.
The neoclassical building was deemed endangered by Landmarks Illinois after the greeting card company moved out in 2007. The commission said the building and its neighbor at 3638 N. Broadway were “vulnerable to replacement with residential development which is commonplace in the Lakeview neighborhood.”
The planned Wal-Mart store would be virtually next door to a large Walgreens drugstore, and also close to a 7-Eleven store at Broadway and Waveland Avenue. It would also be steps from the Boystown nightclub district, and just across Addison Street from a Jewel store and a Treasure Island store at the intersections of Broadway with Brompton and Cornelia avenues, respectively.
On the Boystown Facebook page Wednesday morning, reaction to the latest planned Wal-Mart was largely negative.
“There were so many people against Wal-Mart,” one reader wrote. “Petitions were signed, emails were sent, discussions were had… I can’t believe this is going to happen. Ugh!”
“There’s a freaking Target on Broadway and Montrose, which isn’t that far from Boystown,” another wrote. “How many small business-destroying megastores does a neighborhood need?”
But one reader said he favored a new Wal-Mart, on the grounds that it would create jobs and lower unemployment in the neighborhood.
While the latest planned East Lakeview Wal-Mart apparently went easily, the other planned location at the Broadway at Surf has met with hostility from many neighbors.
That store would be an approximately 30,000 square-foot Neighborhood Market in the Broadway at Surf retail complex, which like the 3636 N. Broadway building is managed by Mid-America Real Estate. The Broadway at Surf Wal-Mart would take over two vacant storefronts once occupied by a PetSmart and a Wolf Camera, and sweep out a Cost Plus World Market store that remains open.
For several months earlier this year, neighbors protested against the proposed store, saying it would decimate the many locally-owned small businesses along Broadway and other nearby commercial strips, and permanently change the character of the neighborhood for worse. There were also concerns that Wal-Mart might expand to the entire building.
But opposition died down after Wal-Mart 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.
And while some neighbors called on Ald. Tom Tunney (44th) to oppose the Broadway at Surf Wal-Mart, he refused to do so. At the community meeting last month, 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.
A small group opposing the Broadway at Surf Wal-Mart remains active on Facebook, and on Wednesday afternoon, its organizer proposed changing the name to “Stop the Lakeview/Lincoln Park Wal-Marts,” since there are now plans for two East Lakeview locations.
There have been no reports of a lease being finalized at the Broadway at Surf site, but if a lease is signed, that store will open in the spring of 2012.