Wal-Mart Hits Chicago

Crain's Chicago Business reports that Chicago's City Council approved a zoning change that will let Wal-Mart build its first store within the city's limits. The 150,000 s.f. store will be located on the city's west side, near Austin Avenue, in a poor, primarily black and Hispanic neighborhood.

But the City Council rejected a second attempt by the world's largest retailer to locate a store on the south side, in a racially diverse, middle-class neighborhood.

The article illuminates the promotional and lobbying tactics that Wal-Mart uses to push its image, obviously glossing over its notorious reputation of paying low wages and providing inadequate health care.

The article also mentions that Wal-Mart has had its eye on Chicago for a while, searching for a location that can accommodate the massive footprint of its store and parking. Unlike other big-box retailers, like Home Depot, Wal-Mart appears to be hesitant to abandon its tried-and-true prototype for a design more sensitive to urban conditions. While the west side store will create jobs for the struggling area, hopefully the negative effects of Wal-Mart will not offset this one benefit.