CHICAGO (CBS) — Back In May, a Walmart was set on fire during the unrest in Chicago, forcing the store to shut down.
But now the Walmart Supercenter is bouncing back in a big way. CBS 2’s Jeremy Ross reports from Chatham where the re-opening brings a new opportunity for the South Side community.
For four months the Walmart has been out of business and people here have gone out of their way to get some things they need. In a pandemic, it’s been tough. But that’s about to end.
The traffic in this area of Chatham has picked up, and so has the work in and around this business part of town. Much of it taking place at the area’s largest home and grocery store: Walmart. It’s a business about to reopen with a health focus.
“It’s something that’s needed,” said shopper Charese Simpson. “We don’t have a lot of choices around here in this neighborhood. We don’t have a lot of dentists in the area.”
Haresh Desai showed one of two Chicago-area stores partnering with local health providers to eventually deliver primary health care, diagnostics, dental and hearing services.
“Really it’s our first that’s kind of in that city-type of environment,” Desai said.
He added that the Walmart heath centers are part of a reinvesting and retooling effort in Chicago’s stores. After some tried to deconstruct and loot them back in mid June. The fires and unrest shuttered the Chatham store. It suffered extensive smoke and water damage, with about three million in stolen and damaged merchandise.
“It was horrible and I hope it never happens again in our history,” said Simpson.
About 50 will work in the new adjoining health offices. Before Chicago’s unrest the entire Walmart facility employed 485. With the remodel and health additions, Walmart said it’s adding more than 750 new jobs. There are nearby stores that still display the scars of vandalism and violence form the summer’s volatility and outrage. But this week, there are also signs of progress.
“I think it’s a great thing they’re doing for the community and the area,” said Simpson.
As part of the project and community investments totaling more than $50 million, Walmart is working directly with local vendors and contractors during the remodels and with future routine maintenance work. The stores are also giving more than $80,000 to local organizations.
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