Reports: Walmart store to open in Lakeview area

December 10, 2010 (CHICAGO)

People who fear what Walmart will do to the area's urban, upscale character are girding for a fight.

The space in question is already zoned for a big-box retailer. In fact, one just left, but the complex known as Broadway at Surf appears perfect for the world's biggest retailer to install a store, according to published reports. In a video from the retailers, it's called a neighborhood market.

In Lakeview's bustling streets where small businesses dominate the commercial traffic, opposition is growing already and Walmart has not confirmed or denied it is seeking to build there.

"The last time I checked in Chicago, an alderman and a community who have a lot of concerns and express opposition to something can get things stopped," said Bruce Alan Beal, Stop Lakeview/Lincoln Park Walmart.

Beal has started a Facebook page to help organize the community against whatever Walmart may have cooking and it has gained nearly 500 members in one day. That's a testament to Lakeview's community sensibility, according to the local chamber of commerce, which normally would welcome those planning on building something new.

"The people that live in this community really take note of what they want and this is about the fabric of a whole entire community," said Maureen Martino, Lakeview Chamber of Commerce.

Walmart has said it has not made any plans for Lakeview but is looking to establish its neighborhood market concept in markets around the United States. It already has a traditional large outlet on the West Side.

In the middle is the 44th Ward Alderman Tom Tunney, who is suspicious of Walmart's timing of the proposal, if there is one, ten weeks before a municipal election and with no outreach to his office -- something developers in Chicago traditionally do early on a project.

"They've got to sell the project to the community. It's not my job to sell their project. My job is to listen to the community," said Tunney.

With the building in question already zoned for a big-box store, it appears the alderman can do little to stop the project if no zoning changes are being requested.

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