Thinking Out of the Big Box: Walmart Wants to Be Neighborhood Grocer

Plans for former Jewel-Osco will include grocery with pharmacy and up to three other retail tenants.

Walmart wants to be the local 24-hour grocer in the eighth aldermanic district, and the city Plan Commission gave the retail giant an initial nod to do so Monday, approving a conditional use permit for the project. 

Gatlin Development Co., developer for the project, plans to buy the 5.52-acre  site at 3850 N. 124th St., site of the former Jewel-Osco, according to its development agreement draft. The nearly 65,000 square foot building currently is assessed at $6.82 million and is owned by ASP Realty Inc.

Walmart Market will be contained to 38,000 square feet of space, with up to three retail tenants to occupy the remaining space, said Deborah Tomczyk, an attorney with Reinhart Boerner Van Deuren, S.C., representing the developer. 

Mayor Jill Didier asked Tomczyk to go on record confirming that the project would not evolve into a full-blown Walmart, citing concerns from calls she received, adding, “I want to make it clear, I do not want a (full-scale) Walmart.” 

The former Jewel-Osco site has been vacant for nearly four years, and is one of several sites in the eighth district that is need of “re-imagination,” said Craig Wilson, alderman for the district who spoke in favor of the project.

A Walmart Market, he said, will revitalize the building and bring in "healthy traffic and interest" in the area. 

The developer plans to rehabilitate the vacant building to create a neighborhood market and pharmacy, including a drive-through pharmacy window. The Walmart Market, Tomczyk said, will be a  smaller but full-service grocery, including full delicatessen, bakery and produce sections.

The additional tenants will come on line once the Walmart Market moves ahead, Tomczyk said. Up to three additional tenants will occupy the remaining 24,000 square feet of retail space, she said.

The developer has not cited development costs, but said in its proposal that construction labor and materials to rehabilitate the building and parking lot will cost several million dollars. Development plans include a new facade, windows, canopies and entries, as well as parking lot landscaping that will add green space to the current barren lot. 

The Walmart Market would add from 65 to 80 jobs.

The issue next goes before the Community Development Commission on April 26.  








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