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2004-08-31
Chicago, IL. Wal-Mart Pulls Out of South Side Chicago Plan.

There's lots of action on the South Side of Chicago -- but it won't be at Wal-Mart. The Chicago Sun Times reports today that Wal-Mart's efforts to build a second store in Chicago have been blown away in the windy city. The giant retailer had a contract to build a south side store, but that contract expired, and Wal-Mart walked away from the project (the second 'walk away' in a week, see Washington, D.C. story). In this case, Wal-Mart turned on its heels apparently out of concerns over "wage and benefit" standards that city officials have discussed putting into city zoning ordinances. "It's not about a living-wage issue. It's about an ordinance that singles out just some -- not all -- businesses in Chicago," a Wal-Mart spokesman told the Sun Times. "We wanted to defer the discussion until we got a better sense of how this big-box thing was going. We're just not comfortable committing considerable capital investment to a site when we don't know if we're going to be able to operate in Chicago. The developer, rather than extending our contract, decided to go ahead with the [zoning] vote. It's not our call. The project is going ahead without us." Wal-Mart has already received approval for a controversial West Side project after much public debate, but the company says that store also could be in peril if the Alderman pass a big box ordinance Wal-Mart doesn't like. "We're going to continue to work in good faith toward accomplishing the things we want to do on the West Side project...But, the reality is that, with these big-box ordinances looming, it could have an impact on whether or not we're able to go through with that project, as well," Wal-Mart said. But even without Wal-Mart, the developer is pushing ahead to get the land on the south side rezoned from industrial to commercial. The project requires heavy public subsidies in order to succeed. The developer is seeking a $33 million tax-increment financing (TIF) deal to handle the environmental clean up and other site specific work. The Wal-Mart invasion of Chicago has left the City Council "bitterly divided" according to the Sun Times. Although the west side store was narrowly approved, a second store in the Chatham neigbhorhood on the north side of the city lost by a one vote margin. The Council is now considering a new big box ordinance that would mandate a minimum wage and benefit standard for big box retailers. To express its displeasure, and perhaps hope the Council will vote down the proposed ordinance, Wal-Mart perhaps is using its pull out to dramatize its efforts to keep the ordinance off the books.

What you can do: For earlier stories about the big wind blowing against Wal-Mart in the windy city, search this database by "Chicago."










 
 
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