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2013-12-21
Rolling Meadows, IL. Mayor Plays A No-Win Game of Musical Retailers

The small city of Rolling Meadows, Illinois is playing a game of musical retailers--a game which has no real winners.

This community of 24,241 people has no real market need for more grocery stores. Witness the closure of a Dominick's grocery store in 2004. Almost a decade later, the dead Dominick's site has still not been filled by any retailer at all.

The reason for this is simple: Rolling Meadows is rolling with superstores. The city has no less than 8 Wal-Marts within 10 miles, including 4 Wal-Mart superstores in Elk Grove Village (5.6 miles away), Lake Zurich (8.4 miles away), Addison (9 miles away) and Streamwood (9.5 miles away). Rolling Meadows also has its own Wal-Mart discount store on Golf Road. This is why Dominick's imploded recently in the greater Chicago trade area, closing dozens of stores: too many grocery stores fighting for a shrinking share of the pie.

Last February, when Mayor Tom Rooney announced that an Uncle Joe's Tuscan Fresh Market was coming to the dead site, the developer said, "We're super pleased and super excited. It's the right user in the right location. That site will be neighborhood commercial as opposed to big box stores. It's always been local businessmen running businesses, and it will continue to be." The developer told the Herald that residents seemed happy that a big chain would not be moving into the center.

But 10 months later, local officials in Rolling Meadows are going hat in hand to ask Wal-Mart to help them out. According to the Chicago Daily Herald, the city is hoping to convince Wal-Mart to build another store in Rolling Meadows---this time a 38,000 s.f. Neighborhood Market, at the site of the dead Dominick's.

Rolling Meadows Mayor Rooney, who has no retailing background, told the community this week that plans to reuse the Dominick's site with a new grocery store had fallen through. At the same time, Wal-Mart is pursuing a Neighborhood Market a few blocks away from the empty Dominick's---and the Mayor wants Wal-Mart to use the empty site. "It seems like it would be a great fit," the City Manager told the Herald . "It's very close to the site they've selected, and the zoning is already in place for a grocery."

But a spokeswoman for Wal-Mart held out little hope: "We have reviewed several sites and the present one [a few blocks away] is the one we are pursuing."

Wal-Mart's plan for the Neighborhood Market will come before the City Council on January 21st. If the Council allows Wal-Mart to change the zoning on that site, and does not emphasize the city's desire to see in-fill of vacant sites, they will get stuck with more mindless growth.

Readers are urged to email Mayor Tom Rooney at http://www.ci.rolling-meadows.il.us/citycouncil/CityCouncilEmail.htm with the following message:

"Dear Mayor Rooney,

Your small city is saturated with big box stores. You have 8 Wal-Mart's within 10 miles, including 4 nearby superstores. If your residents are addicted to cheap Chinese imports, you already have a Wal-Mart on Golf Road, and superstores less than 6 miles away. A Neighborhood Market anywhere in Rolling Meadows will largely take its sales from existing grocery stores in the area, like the Jewel-Osco across the street from the dead Dominick's.

There is a reason Dominick's went under. Wal-Mart now is the largest grocer in America---bigger than its next four competitors combined, controlling an estimated 25% of all groceries sold in the United States. Adding a Neighborhood Market will only shift more market share to the Walton family.

Rolling Meadows should go back to a mixed use neighborhood scale development, as this site was once zoned for residential use. The city would maintain more control over the site, and not simply be playing musical chairs with your retailers.

At a minimum, you should not rezone land for Wal-Mart's Neighborhood Market plan. This is not an economic development proposal, it's economic displacement."

What you can do: Readers are urged to email Mayor Tom Rooney at:

http://www.ci.rolling-meadows.il.us/citycouncil/CityCouncilEmail.htm

with the following message:

"Dear Mayor Rooney,

Your small city is saturated with big box stores. You have 8 Wal-Mart's within 10 miles, including 4 nearby superstores. If your residents are addicted to cheap Chinese imports, you already have a Wal-Mart on Golf Road, and superstores less than 6 miles away.

A Neighborhood Market anywhere in Rolling Meadows will largely take its sales from existing grocery stores in the area, like the Jewel-Osco across the street from the dead Dominick's.

There is a reason Dominick's went under. Wal-Mart now is the largest grocer in America---bigger than its next four competitors combined, controlling an estimated 25% of all groceries sold in the United States. Adding a Neighborhood Market will only shift more market share to the Walton family.

Rolling Meadows should go back to a mixed use neighborhood scale development, as this site was once zoned for residential use. The city would maintain more control over the site, and not simply be playing musical chairs with your retailers.

At a minimum, you should not rezone land for Wal-Mart's Neighborhood Market plan. This is not an economic development proposal, it's economic displacement."










 
 
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