Costco Says Move Your Big Box, Walmart.

City Hall stalls

With all the hullabaloo about Wal-Mart's attempt to build a second store in the Chicago city limits, rival Costco is trying to move forward with its own second store here. But it's facing a bureaucratic obstacle course.

"A Costco envisioned for a 16-acre parcel in the Illinois Medical District faces a complex approval process that likely means any ribbon cutting is at least two years away, representatives from the retailing behemoth said," the Chicago Journal reports.

Costco is often cited by social activists as an example of relatively model corporate citizen.

“The most important thing is that Wal-Mart has to follow the lead of Costco,” Gov. Pat Quinn said this week. “Costco pays a living wage, a decent wage. They pay good benefits to their employees, and that’s what every employer should do.”

"Asked about the argument that a low-paying job is better than no job," the ChicagoTribune reported, "Quinn echoed a common line of attack on Wal-Mart: 'I don’t think it’s good to have a race to the bottom'."

Costco projects that it would employ 200 to 300 people at its new store - though just half of those full-time.

But the project has a long way to go.

"The firm must satisfy zoning required by the medical district, go through the city’s development process, vacate various streets and deal with removing parking meters from within the parcel, bound by Hastings, 15th, Ashland and a CTA elevated line," the Journal reports.

"Costco needs to lift a local moratorium on liquor sales, get permissions to add a gas station and conduct its own environmental testing of the land."

Costco is also trying to add a gas station to its existing store; previous applications have been denied by the city.

Building a store at the Chatham location where Walmart wants to go in could go a long way toward smoothing things with the city, but apparently Costco isn't interested.

"Target at one point said they were interested, but we found out they were more interested in blocking Wal-Mart from coming to the site than going to the location," Ald. Howard Brookins (21st)  told the Reader last year. "We’ve talked to people at Costco. We’ve talked to people at Kohl’s. Dominick’s looked at the site and passed on it."

Steve Rhodes is the proprietor of The Beachwood Reporter, a Chicago-centric news and culture review.

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