It appears that Wal-Mart has recently signed a lease and applied for permits for 3636 N. Broadway. For those of you trying to picture the location, it is currently a vacant building and is next to the Walgreens just north of Addison.
There has been some outrage over this. Many in the community do not want Wal-Mart in their community. First, the Wal-Mart being built is going to be their new “Express Store” format. The same format is planned to open up in River North at Chicago & Franklin in the location of the old Pearl Store just off the Brown Line.
Wal-Mart still plans to open their full size location at Diversey and Broadway. In addition to slightly competing with themselves, they will have Jewel Osco right down the street as well as Treasure Island only a few blocks away and Whole Foods.
The hope is that Wal-Mart will design a store that will fit the community. The last thing we want is a giant piece of crap sitting on Broadway. However, the one thing that needs to be understood is that it is in Wal-Mart’s best interest to have a great store, that fits the community. As a community, we should be excited that someone is moving into vacant space. This stretch of Broadway is DEAD, no doubt about it. There is not much there. If built properly, this will be a nice anchor that will encourage other businesses to move in.
The benefits are that Wal-Mart is opening up in a “slightly historic” building. The facade should, for the most part, be salvaged, preserved, and restored. We will not see a typical “box” on Broadway, instead we should see a store that fits in with the neighborhood. The goal is not to increase auto traffic and the Wal-Mart Express format, is not meant to do that. It is meant to be a destination point that will increase foot traffic. When foot traffic increases, and auto traffic in stable/sound this is a great combination to justify why other retailers can move into neighboring spaces.
It is interesting to see how this will play out, but I URGE EVERYONE who lives in the community to give them a chance and look at them with an open mind. Do not go the way of the media, the critics, and the idiots who bash Wal-Mart but instead, sit back, relax and take an EDUCATED look on what Wal-Mart means for the economics of the area. Lets let the truth and economics be the true guiding force that leads discussions with Wal-Mart as opposed to unfounded biases that many of us may have against the largest retailer, Wal-Mart.