Over 100 people packed this week’s meeting of the Southeast Lakeview Neighbors after word got out that Walmart had signed a letter of intent to build a new store at Broadway and Surf Street, near the site of the Dominick’s that burned down in 2005. The Lakeview East Chamber of Commerce trumpeted the meeting, posting these claims on its website:
-- For every Walmart that opens, 25% of small businesses close.
-- For every job created by Walmart, the community loses one employee.
-- Walmart does not fit the fabric of the community.
Walmart is now saying it hasn’t signed a lease ofra letter of intent to move into Lake View, according to Crain’s Chicago Business.
“The company is evaluating a number of potential opportunities across the city of Chicago, and will continue to work with elected officials, business groups, community associations and key stakeholders to ensure that sites and formats are compatible with the communities we seek to serve,” Walmart spokeswoman Maggie Sans said in a statement.
And 44th Ward Ald. Tom Tunney, who doesn’t need this two months before an election, doubts Walmart will move into his ward. He should hope not. Tunney’s opponent, David Winner, is already trying to make Walmart a campaign. Winner put out this statement:
There are many neighborhoods in Chicago that would benefit from the jobs and access to food that a large retailer like Wal-Mart can bring but Lakeview is not one of them. In an area that is thriving with retail options, opening a Wal-Mart would only exacerbate traffic congestion and scarcity of parking space. In the very short term, we could end up seeing a lot of empty store fronts along Broadway, Clark and Diversey where small business owners are struggling as it is. With projects on deck like the Clark/Addison mega-mall in Wrigleyville, this strikes me as a continuation of the suburbanization of the 44th ward.
Even if Walmart doesn’t move to Broadway and Surf, does anyone doubt that the company was aiming for Lake View the moment it began plotting its move to Chicago? Walmart tried to look like a white knight by bringing crisp apples and $9.25 an hour jobs to neighborhoods where no else wanted to build, but Walmart has so much cash it can throw away a few stores as loss leaders. Like any business, Walmart wants to go where the money is, and in Chicago, the money is on the North Side.
Mayor Daley and the Chicago City Council, you’ve been used.