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Wal-Mart expansion heats up 44th Ward race

Updated: September 24, 2012 6:25AM



After cutting the deal that ended a six-year stalemate over Wal-Mart expansion in Chicago, organized labor promised not to target any alderman seeking re-election Feb. 22.

Aldermanic challengers apparently did not get the memo.

On Friday, Wal-Mart expansion emerged as a major issue in the two-way race for 44th Ward alderman.

Aldermanic challenger David Winner demanded that incumbent Ald. Tom Tunney (44th) block Wal-Mart from making Lake View the first Chicago test for a 30,000-to-60,000 square feet Neighborhood Market selling groceries and limited general merchandise.

Winner’s fear is that Wal-Mart will drive “small mom-and-pop” retailers out of business, robbing Lake View of its character. He further warned that once the world’s largest retailer gets its foot in the door of a congested neighborhood, it is bound to expand.

“It’s the suburbanization of Lake View. They’re gonna come in and close down our small businesses. It seems to be their trait. Let him work with the landlord to find an alternative,” Winner said.

“People move into the area because they like it the way it is. We like dealing with mom-and-pop stores where you get individual attention. I support Wal-Mart where Wal-Mart is necessary. But we have a well-established neighborhood with well-established businesses. Our fear is they will go away.”

As the owner of Ann Sather Restaurants, Tunney said he’s concerned about the impact on small business. But he’s not about to slam the door on Wal-Mart.

The proposed Lake View Wal-Mart would be in the 134,000-square foot building at 2840 N. Broadway.

“I’m not saying I’m for it or against it at this point. We haven’t seen any proposal whatsoever. It’s premature to rush to judgment until we give everyone a chance to look at a proposal — if there is a proposal,” Tunney said.



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