There is NO way this is going to go through. Walmart is the anti-Lakeview. We live here for the snooty groceries stores and cute restaurants. And whereas I wish the food here was more affordable, it's a sacrifice you make. I'd be shocked if this went any further.
Lakeview residents turn out to hear, and jeer, proposal for Walmart store
Facing an attentive but largely hostile crowd, Wal-Mart representatives presented their proposal for a grocery store in Chicago's Lakeview neighborhood at a public meeting Monday evening.
About 200 people — many wearing anti-Wal-Mart buttons and stickers — filed into the Wellington Avenue United Church of Christ to hear the proposal.
John Bisio, a Wal-Mart Stores Inc. public affairs senior manager, said that although he recognized the citizens' concerns, the smaller facility at Broadway and Surf Street would not interfere with the neighborhood's character.
"I think we have enough information that we've opened these neighborhood markets and we've kept them open," he said.
But many in the audience could be heard snickering at company representatives' arguments for why the 32,000-square-foot Walmart Market would be good for the North Side neighborhood.
"I don't want them in this neighborhood, and I wish they would hear us saying no," said Erin Edwards, 27, who works for North Side Anti-Hunger Network. "I'm all for job creation. But it would be wonderful for the people in this neighborhood to have the small stores that can provide fresh produce and to be able to pay their employees well so they wouldn't have to need our services."
Ald. Tom Tunney, 44th, appeared at the meeting to tell residents that he wanted their feedback regarding his proposal with the zoning committee to limit the area of any big-box retailer to 25,000 square feet.
After the presentation, several residents overwhelmingly shouted down the proposal and urged Tunney to push forth the zoning limitation in City Council.
"There are plenty of parts of Chicago where Wal-Mart would be generative to the economy," Chris Spidle, 45, told store representatives during public comments. "I think here it would be dilutive."
Jessica McCabe agreed. "Why would Wal-Mart want to put a grocery store in an area where two miles in every direction there are five competitive grocery stores?" said McCabe, 20.
Walmart Market — previously called Neighborhood Market — is more of a typical grocery store, offering fresh produce, dairy and frozen foods. Occupying about 40,000 square feet, the markets are designed to fit the confines of a bustling metropolis. By contrast, the 150,000-square-foot supercenters that combine grocery with discount retail prevail in suburban areas.
The mega retailer has long met resistance in Chicago as the company attempts to expand into northern metropolitan areas. The first Chicago store opened in the Austin neighborhood in 2006 after Mayor Richard Daley vetoed a higher-minimum-wage ordinance for big-box retailers.
Two years earlier, the City Council used zoning laws to block the company from building at 83rd Street and Stewart Avenue. The company closed on the sale for the 13.5-acre parcel at the Chatham Market shopping center on Monday, according to a source close to the deal.