Chicago Residents Keep the Walmart Welcome Wagon at Home

April 12, 2011

Hundreds of Chicago residents attended a meeting Monday night to voice their opposition to the addition of a new Walmart store in the Lakeview neighborhood.

The Walmart Market would be located at 2840 N. Broadway near Clark and Diversey, would be much smaller than a regular Walmart store and would focus primarily on grocery items.

About 250 Chicago residents crowded into Lake View’s Wellington Avenue Church of Christ Monday night to hear the Walmart official’s presentation. Many of those residents were wearing pins or stickers opposing Walmart.

The residents say the the East Lakeview neighborhood doesn’t need another grocery store; that its addition could force out smaller businesses.

“There are plenty of parts of Chicago where Walmart would be generative to the economy,” said one resident. “I think here it will be dilutive. I think it could have an extremely harmful impact on our diverse and unusual neighborhood.”

Business owners have voiced concerns over traffic saturation in the area and others have criticized Walmart directly as a company, including the Lakeview East Chamber of Commerce.

“Walmart is the largest retail business in the country and yet it pays its employees below a living wage, discriminates against women, does not offer employees affordable and accessible health care plans and has questionable violations of not paying overtime due to their employees. For every job that is created by Walmart, the local business will also lose 1.4 employees. The argument that Walmart creates jobs is only negated by the losses from our small business community,” says the Chamber’s website.

Lakeview residents and business owners can complain, but nothing can really stop Walmart from moving to this North Side location, as the 30,000-square-foot space is already zoned for retail.

Residents are urging Ald. Tom Tunney of the 44th ward to at least push for legislation that would limit the space of the new Walmart to 25,000 square feet.

“As a small business owner, I understand the impact any big-box retailer would have on our neighborhood,” Tunney said recently in a statement. “We will work together, residents and businesses, to continue to make our community a better place to live, raise a family, shop and own a business.”

Stay tuned.

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