Northbrook, IL. Wal-Mart Drops Plan After Negative Reaction At Plan Commission
Wal-Mart knows how to count to nine---and in Northbrook, Illinois, the math just didn't add up for Wal-Mart. So on November 8th, the retailer officially scrubbed its plans for a controversial supercenter. The company thus avoided a 9-0 vote against its proposed store.
In April of 2013, Wal-Mart filed a zoning and subdivision application in the Village of Northbrook. Local residents contacted Sprawl-Busters in May to express their concerns.
As soon as word leaked out about the project, local residents were alarmed by the size and location of the project on Skokie Boulevard. One of the first things Wal-Mart amended in an attempt to sooth ruffled feelings against the project was to drop plans for a 24/7 hours of operation, and instead planned to open at 6 am and close at midnight, seven days a week, according to the Northbrook Patch.
But this small community had no need for 151,000 s.f. of additional retail -- open all night or not. The population of the Village of Northbrook actually dropped slightly between 2000 and 2010. As of 2010, the population stood at 33,170 people. However Village economic development officials claimed that there were 990,000 consumers within a 20 minute drive of the Village. But these surrounding communities already have Wal-Marts of their own, so no one wouid drive to Northbrook to shop the same Wal-Mart they have where they already live.
The Village currently lists retail spaces available at 32 shopping centers in Northbrook, most of them under 5,000 s.f. But the Village already hosts the 1 million s.f. Northbrook Court mall, the 405,600 s.f. Willow Festival shopping center, and the 335,000 s.f. Village Square of Northbrook. All these malls will lose market share if the pie is divided up into smaller slices. Consumers in this Village have plenty of retail choices available.
Even more remarkable, Northbrook has no less than 18 Wal-Mart stores within 20 miles, including a superstore 5 miles away in Niles, Illinois. So Northbrook is a saturated market area, showing no significant population growth, resulting in the likelihood that a new Wal-Mart store will capture most of its sales from existing merchants, including its own competing stores nearby.
Yesterday, according to The Chicago Tribune, Wal-Mart pulled its ill-fated application from consideration---because the writing was on the Wal. The retailer told local officials Friday afternoon that they were bowing out. No real surprise, since about 10 days earlir all nine members of the Village Plan Commission told the company that they would tell Village Trustees to vote against the store. One of the sticking points mentioned prominently by the entire Plan Commission was the need to reduce the size of the store. According to The Tribune, size was "one of the problems" with the plan.
Although Wal-Mart could have waited for the VIllage Plan Commission to vote on the store at its December 2nd meeting, the company chose instead to shut down its effort, which had generated a significant negative response among local residents.
What you can do: Residents and businesses in Northbrook are celebrating the super-short life of this Wal-Mart superstore.
Readers are urged to email Northbrook Village President Sandra Frum at: email@example.com with the following message:
"Dear President Frum,
Northbrook has dodged a bullet!
The Village Council is fortunate that the controversial Wal-Mart superstore was killed by the people who first gave it life. Better Wal-Mart pull its own plan than face a public relations nightmare at the hands of your Plan Commission.
The reality is that this superstore was not about jobs or economic development. This store would have transferred sales from existing merchants -- like the long list of retailers at Northbrook Court. Another Wal-Mart would have cannibalized its own stores in Niles, and 17 other locations within 20 miles of Northbrook.
Northbrook should not pin its future on low-wage retail jobs. Your trade area is already saturated, and all Wal-Mart would bring you is more traffic, more crime, and more pollution -- none of which you need. It would tax your police, fire, water and sewer infrastructure. Village residents already have ample opportunities to buy cheap imports from Bangladesh and China. You can do better than this for economic growth. In fact, this is not a form of economic growth at all.
Your Plan Commission was right: a store the size of 3 acres, surrounded by an even bigger asphalt parking lot, just does not make sense in a Village setting. Northbrook should work to in-fill and protect its existing malls, and not accept projects that will leave you with dead malls and retail blight."