Continued issues for Walmart in Chicago

Even with discussions last year suggesting more amity between Walmart and the city of Chicago (and an earlier post here), there are still some issues for the retailer in the city.

1. Over the weekend, activists in Little Village, a neighborhood on Chicago’s west side, said they think Walmart should locate one of their stores in their neighborhood rather than just building on the south side:

At a news conference Sunday afternoon at 26th Street and Kolin, Raul Montes Jr. said people could benefit from having a Wal-Mart more centrally located in the city, vs. the locations on the South Side, which are currently planned.

Montes says Wal-Mart would do well at 26th and Kostner, which has been vacant for years. Montes says he and others in Little Village have sent letters to their alderman over the past few months and have so far, gotten no response.

He says they feel ignored.

2. Last night, Walmart representatives presented plans to residents of Lakeview, a neighborhood on the north side, regarding a proposed smaller version of their store called “Walmart Market.” There was some opposition from the crowd:

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…

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.

After the presentation, several residents overwhelmingly shouted down the proposal and urged Alderman Tunney to push forth the zoning limitation in City Council.

It is interesting to contrast these two responses to Walmart: one neighborhood wants a store while another is very skeptical and thinks the store is unnecessary and could harm the neighborhood.

But with big box stores wanting to move into cities (Target recently talking about plans to open on State Street as well as recently opening their first store in Manhattan), these discussions will continue to take place.

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