Walmart meets with Lakeview residents

April 12, 2011 9:28:51 AM PDT
Walmart hopes to win over Lakeview residents with what the retailer calls a smaller, neighborhood market at Broadway and Surf.

In a struggling economy, some residents in East Lakeview may welcome lower prices and a different option when it comes to buying their groceries and other items, but some people say a smaller version of Walmart would not be a good fit in the community.

"Lakeview is not a food desert," one person said during a meeting with Walmart representatives Monday night.

There are plenty of critics of Walmart's plan to move into Chicago's Lakeview neighborhood. They include those who say Walmart should go to a neighborhood that needs grocery stores. Others criticize Walmart's low wages and say the company offers poor benefits.

Many say the retailer would change the fabric of the community and force out smaller businesses.

"I'm quite concerned and not very excited about this development. There are plenty of parts of Chicago where Walmart would be generative to the economy. I think here it will be dilutive. I think it could have an extremely harmful impact on our diverse and unusual neighborhood," one resident said.

Walmart wants to open what it calls a neighborhood market. It's much smaller than the regular big box stores and will sell groceries primarily.

"If I heard there was a Walmart coming to this particular location, I'd probably be wondering how is that going to work?" said John Bisio, Walmart senior manager for public affairs.

While many residents say they are against the idea, otters say it would be a good thing bringing good jobs and lower prices.

"I'm on a fixed income. Not only will it provide jobs, it will afford better clothing and things for people who aren't on this income level in Lakeview," one resident said.

The space in question is already zoned for retail. So, there is nothing that anybody can do legally to stop Walmart, but some city leaders are trying to pass a zoning amendment which would limit the urban Walmart to only 25,000 square feet out of the area which is 30,000 square feet.