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Far South Side Wal-Mart Gets Plan Commission Approval

By Kevin Robinson in News on Apr 16, 2010 2:20PM

Photo by msmail.
In a vote that is sure to spark a new round of debate of the future of Chicago's retail landscape, the city's Plan Commission voted Thursday to recommend construction of a new Wal-Mart in Chicago's Pullman neighborhood. The store, which is part of a larger project to develop housing, retail, hotels and dining on the former Ryerson Steel site at 111th Street, next to the Bishop Ford. The final decision goes before the full city council next month for a vote. 9th Ward Ald. Anthony Beale says he's counting on support from his fellow aldermen to get the project through. "We want to get people out of their homes and back to work. And if we don't find a new source of revenue here in the City of Chicago, we're going to be forced to lay more people off in the years to come," Beale told WBEZ.

But not everyone sees Wal-Mart as a solution to Chicago's employment ills. 6th Ward Ald. Freddrenna Lyle says that she'll re-introduce the living wage ordinance that Mayor Daley vetoed in 2006. That law would have required retailers with stores of a certain size to pay a minimum wage to their employees. Lyle's bill, which has the support of 17 aldermen, will require businesses with 50 or more employees that receive $250,000 or more in direct or indirect city financial assistance to pay wages of at least $11.03-an-hour. "That is what we have calculated to be a reasonable wage for a person's labor, and we're saying if you get a city benefit -- if you get TIF funding, if you get land write downs -- if you get anything from the city to bring your development in, then your response should be to pay the residents of the city of Chicago a living wage," Lyle told the Tribune.14th Ward alderman and Finance Committee Chairman Ed Burke has also said that he supports holding large employers in Chicago to an economic standard. Echoing Wal-Mart's opposition to minimum wages, Beale suggested that Lyle's ordinance be applied retroactively to the Target store in her ward. “Why not? Let’s look at it from a legal standpoint. Maybe there’s an opportunity to do that,” Beale told the Sun-Times. “I don’t think any of the big retailers are gonna go for it — [not] even the Target that’s in her ward.”