Thursday, April 15, 2010

Far south side Wal-Mart gains approval

Well great news but this Wal-Mart to be located in Pullman still has to get past Chicago's City Council. Especially in light of yesterday's news that Ald. Lyle proposed another living wage ordinance.
The Chicago Plan Commission today approved a Far South Side commercial development anchored by Chicago’s second Wal-Mart, setting the stage for a City Council showdown.

“The Plan Commission is not an elected body. It’s a selected body,” said Jorge Ramirez, secretary-treasurer of the Chicago Federation of Labor.

“All it does is intensify pressure on the aldermen. But, the aldermen can put all that pressure right back on Wal-Mart by saying, sit down. You can’t have it your way. The aldermen are with us on this. It shouldn’t be Wal-Mart’s way or the highway.”

Pullman Park is a 180-acre project at 111th and Bishop Ford Expy. that includes 850 homes, a hotel tower, community recreation center, park and senior apartments. It would be anchored by Chicago's first Wal-Mart supercenter that sells groceries desperately needed in the heart of the “food desert.”
Hey get this!
The residential portion of Pullman Park would require a substantial city subsidy, but the commercial phase will be considered first in an apparent end-run around the City Council's Finance Committee.

Committee Chairman Edward M. Burke (14th) has insisted developments that receive city subsidies directly or indirectly pay a living wage of at least $11.03 an hour.

Barring an unforeseen wage deal between Wal-Mart and organized labor, Burke has told colleagues he has no intention of supporting a new Wal-Mart. He doesn’t want to risk alienating union support he needs in next year’s aldermanic election — not after organized labor spent millions in 2007 to elect a more labor-friendly City Council.
WOW!!! Like he'll have serious trouble getting re-elected Alderman in his ward!

Looks like Beale will have at least one supporter amongst his city council colleagues:
Ald. Mary Ann Smith, 48th, said she hadn't expected to favor the project, but applauded its "holistic approach" to providing open outdoor space and other amenities in addition to the Wal-Mart. "I'm so happy to be able to support this project in your community," Smith told Beale.
I want to take a couple of quotes from both the Clout St. post and the Sun-Times:
“Since I was ten years old, the 9th Ward has lost 35,000 jobs ... I was born and raised in this community. I know it backwards and forwards. Nobody else is coming to the area. Nobody else is trying to fill the ills of my community,” Beale said.

“If Wal-Mart doesn’t anchor this site, my site goes nowhere because everyone else has said, ‘No. We’re not interested.’”
Merlon Jackson, pastor of Christ Community Church on 103rd Street, said the development would help bring some optimism to residents of an often overlooked area of the city.

"This will give people in that community... some hope," Jackson said.
The next step? Well Beale's development proposal has to go before the city council's zoning committee and then of course it has to be considered in front of the full city council. That also means that debate will include at the arguments about how Wal-Mart doesn't pay their workers a living wage or what not.

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