Walmart is one step closer from moving into Lakeview. (Tribune file photo)
Walmart is one step closer to moving into a vacant building at Surf and Broadway in Lakeview, now that the building’s landlord, retailer and the South East Lake View Neighbors association have agreed to crucial restrictions on space and inventory, should the controversial company sign a lease.
“We didn’t get everything we wanted,” said SELVN board member and attorney Mike Demetiou, who helped secure restrictions with the landlord. “But we were able to get them to agree to powerful things.”
The biggest restriction announced at Monday night’s SELVN meeting limits the store’s expansion. Though Walmart right now is seeking to open a 30,000-square-foot space, it will be only allowed an extra 3,395 later if it wants to expand.
This comes in addition to a previous agreement between Walmart and Ald. Tom Tunney of the 44th Ward in which Walmart said it would maintain 75-80 percent of its inventory as groceries in this location. The other 20 percent of inventory will be products like office supplies and home goods.
“We plan to honor the landlord’s covenant and look forward to bringing to fresh, affordable grocery options to Lakeview,” a Walmart spokesman told Crain’s Chicago Business.
Even with these concessions, SELVN still voted overwhelmingly against the proposed store at Monday’s meeting. But this vote is mainly for its own record as a neighborhood organization, as there’s not much else it can do to prevent Walmart from moving in, Demetiou said.
Many Lakeview residents agree with SELVN’s anti-Walmart vote. Cody Morris, 23, said he has no interest in shopping at Walmart: “I just don’t see how this fits in with the neighborhood.”
Dance teacher Amanda Pagnarelli, 26, said she fears the effects Walmart may have on local businesses.
“This city is full of small businesses to support, so I will never go [to Walmart],” she said.
However, Kim Vigue, a 31-year-old stay-at-home mom, said she welcomes a place to get cheap groceries.
“I know a lot of people are in uproar, but I don’t see what the big deal is,” she said. “I support local businesses and artisans, but there’s Targets everywhere, what’s the difference?”
The main fear for SELVN president Liz Cohen is that Walmart may renege on its promise to sell 75-80 percent groceries.
“How much of that is going to be fresh produce and meat, which is what we don’ t have in this neighborhood?” she asked.
The neighborhood organization, along with Tunney, have been hoping that a full-service grocery store would move into the area since a Dominick’s at 3030 N. Broadway burned down six years ago.
“We all painfully remember that day,” Demetiou said. “It’s been a No. 1 priority to get a grocery store.”
Cohen says it’s pretty much a done deal that Walmart will move in.
“There’s nothing more we can do,” she said.