Thursday, February 18, 2010

Ald. Beale claims votes to break Wal-Mart stalemate

This is looking like a shrewd move:
Far South Side Ald. Anthony Beale (9th) said Wednesday he has the votes to break the stalemate that has prevented Wal-Mart from building as many as five Chicago Supercenters.

Instead of forcing the issue on a proposed Chatham Wal-Mart at 83rd and Stewart -- now bottled up in the City Council's Finance Committee -- Beale wants aldermen to vote first on Pullman Park.

The massive mixed-use project on the former Ryerson Steel property between 103rd and 111th along the Bishop Ford Freeway would be anchored by a Wal-Mart Supercenter that sells groceries desperately needed in the heart of a "food desert."

The 270-acre project also includes 1,200 homes, a hotel tower, community recreation center, park and senior apartments.
BTW, the article mentions that Ald. Brookins clashes with Ald. Leslie Hairston and Ald. Lyle were the reasons why the Chatham Wal-Mart proposal hasn't moved forward. Hmmm, but Beale on the other hand:
Beale apparently has no such problem. And the fact that his project is so huge and far from any other retailers makes it easier for him to garner support.

"I'm confident I have the votes. I'm floating around 34 or 35," he said, predicting Chicago Plan Commission approval in March and a City Council vote in April.

“We will be voting on a development — not just a store. It’s a bigger issue than just Wal-Mart. My site will create 4,000 permanent jobs, generate hundreds of millions in new revenue and keep union people working. It’ll create 1,200 homes and a dozen stores. In this climate, how can you vote against that?”
Unfortunately there is a wildcard in this!
Last month, Finance Committee Chairman Edward M. Burke (14th) tried and failed to tie a Chatham Wal-Mart to a requirement that retailers with more than 50 employees that benefit “directly or indirectly” from city subsidies 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 his colleagues he has no intention of moving the Chatham Wal-Mart. He doesn’t want to risk alienating union support he needs in next year’s aldermanic election.

Brookins argued that Beale’s massive redevelopment agreement won’t work without a tax-increment-financing (TIF) subsidy that must be approved by the Finance Committee.

“If Burke is gonna block mine, he’ll block ‘em all,” Brookins said.
Ald. Burke may well attempt to block a Pullman Wal-Mart! Brookins may have a point.

Just as easily as I support a Wal-Mart in Chatham, I support a Wal-Mart in Pullman. Unfortunately I would be concerned about the development in Beale's ward turning into a debate on TIFs. TIFs doesn't seem like a very popular issue these days!

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