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Wal-Mart and urban neighborhoods

jordanb

Cyburbian
Messages
3,232
Points
25
A group I'm involved with in Chicago is opposing the first Wal-Mart to be built within the city limits. It's to be put in a poor neighborhood on the west side (you know, killing the slowest and weakest neighborhoods first |-) ) on a former industrial site (the factory just shut down laying off many people in the community. B-)

Our group is focused on planning and transportation issues, so I think our rep wants to focus on those. Does anyone have any information or studies on wal-mart's impact on things like auto-dependency, effect on local retailers, and maybe traffic in an urban environment?
 

mike gurnee

Cyburbian
Messages
3,066
Points
31
"What do the folks in that neighborhood want?"

Liquor store. Cigarette outlet. Pawn shop. PayDay loans. Or a business that may hire quite a few local residents while supplying necessities to the neighborhood residents.

Sorry, but the proposal might just make sense. giff, the neighborhood probably wants the factory to re-open.
 

giff57

Corn Burning Fool
Staff member
Moderator
Messages
5,452
Points
34
mike gurnee said:
"What do the folks in that neighborhood want?"

Liquor store. Cigarette outlet. Pawn shop. PayDay loans. Or a business that may hire quite a few local residents while supplying necessities to the neighborhood residents.

Sorry, but the proposal might just make sense. giff, the neighborhood probably wants the factory to re-open.

I bet short of the factory opening, many would want the Walmart.
 

teshadoh

Cyburbian
Messages
435
Points
13
A big box shopping center is being built in a 'transitional' neighborhood. This is a massive mini-mall built in Atlanta, the first of it's kind, in particular to the eastern inner city. The neighboring people of Edgewood & Reynoldstown have been trumpeting this development as a great asset for their area, in particular bringing in jobs. The neighors to the north though, Inman Park & Candler Park have already been gentrified, have the means to shop in the suburbs or buy $10 hammers at boutique hardware stores are opposed to it. They cite traffic concerns.

This started off a bitter war, where the poorer neighborhoods felt the rich white people were taking away an opportunity from them. I'm not sure how much this story fits into the area you are speaking of, but more than likely the neighborhood if it's poor will support it. Of course I'm aware you are asking about automobile traffic & not neighborhood opposition or support, so I'll end it at that.
 

jordanb

Cyburbian
Messages
3,232
Points
25
Yes, the community wants its good manufacturing jobs back, can you blame them? This development will do nothing but drain the community of the resources it has left and ship them off to Bentonville. It's parasitic.

Anyway, we've already decided to oppose Wal-Mart and you're certanly not going to change my or the group's position. I'm looking for information. If you don't have any, then please don't share.
 

jordanb

Cyburbian
Messages
3,232
Points
25
Here's a news report on it:

Wal-Mart Plan Generates Opposition
Newstip Date: 03-04-2004
from the Chicago Media Workshop Newstips

Labor and community groups will attend a City Council Zoning Committee meeting on Thursday, March 25 at 10 a.m. to oppose retail giant Wal-Mart's plan to open its first Chicago store on the West Side.

Chicago Jobs With Justice, the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights, and the Illinois Food Retailers Association were among 22 organizations testifying against Wal-Mart's proposal at a December 11 hearing of the Chicago Planning Commission, according to Elizabeth Drea of United Food and Commercial Workers Local 881.

While approving Wal-Mart's application, the Planning Commission noted concerns about its potential impact on small businesses and wage levels, and voted to forward a transcript of the hearing to the Chicago Workforce Development Board.

Wal-Mart has proposed a 150,000 square foot store at the site of the former Helene Curtis plant at 1657 N. Kilpatrick in the West Side community of Austin.

"When Wal-Mart enters a metropolitan area, it targets low-income communities that are hungry for jobs," said Drea. "Then they go in and wipe out local businesses," driving down wage and benefit levels. Local 881 is concerned about the potential impact on its members working in area groceries, she said.

Nationally, opposition to new Wal-Marts has grown as the company has sought to move into major metropolitan areas. Critics score the corporation for cut-throat and predatory business practices; low-wage, poor-benefit employment practices; and hostility to union rights. Wal-Mart faces scores of unfair labor practice charges nationwide, and recent news stories have highlighted its practice of locking employees into stores after closing, as well as an in-house audit which found extensive violations of child labor and overtime laws.

The South Austin Coalition is seeking a community benefits agreement with Wal-Mart, according to Elce Redmond. They want the corporation to agree to hire locally, provide living wage jobs with comprehensive, affordable health coverage, and respect employee's rights to organize, he said.
 

vaughan

Cyburbian
Messages
335
Points
11
JordanB- there's a book out there called "The Home Town Advantage" by Stacy Mitchell which talks quite a bit about "leveling the playing field" in regards to Walmart. Take a look at

http://www.newrules.org/journal/hta.htm

there are a lot of references in the book to different studies that have looked at Walmart's effect on surrounding communities.. of course, I don't have the book on me and so can't give you specifics, but I do know that a lot of the studies reference work done by the Vermont Forum on Sprawl (or at least by people who now work for the Forum). I would try getting in touch with Elizabeth Humstone at that organization (Hmm... I'm anonymously giving out someone's name to a person I don't know over the internet- is that legal or ethical? Don't disappoint me, jordanb...)

Hope that helps.
 

Wulf9

Member
Messages
923
Points
22
Is the city going to provide financial incentives or pay for any of the needed infrastructure. One good argument is that the city should not be giving taxpayer dollars to the world's largest retailer.
 

ludes98

Cyburbian
Messages
1,264
Points
22
Wulf9 said:
Is the city going to provide financial incentives or pay for any of the needed infrastructure. One good argument is that the city should not be giving taxpayer dollars to the world's largest retailer.
Ditto. Here's an article about Scottsdale's fight against a giveaway. http://www.azcentral.com/community/scottsdale/articles/0311sr-prop300Z8.html

I am not anti-big box (location dependent) but is it unreasonable that retail development pay for itself? As if they weren't going make money? Hmm ROI of 30% instead of 40%, still sounds reasonable to me.....
 

ebeech121

Cyburbian
Messages
83
Points
4
Wow

mike gurnee said:
"What do the folks in that neighborhood want?"

Liquor store. Cigarette outlet. Pawn shop. PayDay loans. Or a business that may hire quite a few local residents while supplying necessities to the neighborhood residents.

8-! Whew...I don't think that those types of businesses are what the residents want...but merely all that will locate there. Big corporations do not want to put their stores in lower class neighborhoods--they won't make money because the people who live there don't make a lot of money. The corps move out to suburbia where the middle/upper middle classes live. The lower class people can't move out there (lots of reasons, PM if you really want to talk about it and remember, I'm a sociologist, not a psychologist nor an economist) so those lower class people open up the businesses that will make money. Perpetuated stereotypes can be convincing, even to those being stereotyped. When there is no hope, people give up. I think that is what happens when a liquor store or pawn shop open up.

I don't know if that will make sense, but just because stores like the above mentioned usually open up in lower class neighborhoods does not mean they should nor does it mean that it always happens. This phenomenon is one of the things that interests me sociologically and makes me wonder if it can be changed.

I sincerely hope you don't take this as an attack on your comments, it isn't. I apologize if it seems that way.
 

Cardinal

Cyburbian
Messages
10,080
Points
34
ebeech121 said:
Big corporations do not want to put their stores in lower class neighborhoods--they won't make money because the people who live there don't make a lot of money.


If you had said that there is the perception that they won't make money, I would have agreed. Check out the Initiative for a Competitive Inner City. They have done quite a bit of work to disprove the notion that there isn't the income in city neighborhoods to support retail. In addition to regular income, there is an underground economy (no, I don't mean just the illegal stuff) that pumps in money. Add to this the density of residents typically found in these areas, and the aggregate numbers do not look all that dissimilar to those of suburban areas. Chicago has done better than most cities in identifying this and working with retailers to come to the inner city neighborhoods. Retail Chicago is the name of the program.
 
Messages
1,264
Points
22
In Baltimore, a large shopping district was planned and partially constructed with Wal-Mart and Sam's Club being the first two tenants. Port Covington is located in prime waterfront real estate. Standing in parking lot, one can see the Beth Steel's Sparrow Point Plant, the Key Bridge (I-695), the various ports, the Chesapeake (on a very very good day. Damn post-industrial smog!!) I'm not quite sure how the Waltons or their reps. got a hold of this property first before some rich residential developer got a hold of it. Since I live just outside of downtown Baltimore, I like to go there instead of suburban Wal-Mart/Sam's for a few reasons including location, location and location. Oddly enough, not many people know about it. I'm basing this observation/assumption on the non-existent queues at the Sam's gas station. Also it's bigger and cleaner (less cluttered) than the suburban locations. It does provide jobs for a disadvantaged community located between the Port Covington site and the Balt.-Wash. Pkwy. There's plenty of room to build more retail, movie theater, hopefully a respectable sit-down restaurant instead of fast-food. The site is very promising.
 

ebeech121

Cyburbian
Messages
83
Points
4
Did they...

Did they research all forms of city neighborhoods? I ask because, historically, inner city, poor, lower-class neighborhoods and certain census tracts (tracks, sp?) are ignored while middle class city neighborhoods* are the ones in main focus. Of course I say this based on sociological evidence which may not agree with..well..non-sociological evidence--Sociologists look at the world through very different glasses than say, politicians, developers, and marketers.

I do agree with you that I probably should have included "the perception of.." as that would have probably given my opinion some more credibility.
 

AubieTurtle

Cyburbian
Messages
894
Points
21
Have you read "Sprawl City: Race, Politics, and Planning in Atlanta"? It addresses many of the themes you are talking about. It was nice to see a book with lots of research and numbers to back up its claims.
 

jresta

Cyburbian
Messages
1,474
Points
23
we have a wal-mart and home depot right next to each other. The shopping center is appropriately named Pier 70 because it sits on top of the old pier 70. It's waterfront property with a stunning skyline view.

I've heard that they expect residential development eventually but that at the time it wasn't ripe so they put this there in the meantime knowing that in 15 years it will be ready to tear down anyway.

As far as "jobs" are concerned. Replacing longshore jobs with wal-mart jobs is no contest in terms of . . . well, anything.

It's great that Wal-Mart can pay a hundred or so people part-time wages but every day they're open they are shifting capital from the community to Bentonville. In essence they're mining capital and luckily Philly has enough going to offset the balance but a lot of communities don't have any large scale industry bringing capital in faster than Wal-Mart can truck it out.
 

donk

Cyburbian
Messages
6,970
Points
30
Wulf9 said:
Is the city going to provide financial incentives or pay for any of the needed infrastructure. One good argument is that the city should not be giving taxpayer dollars to the world's largest retailer.

In my previous job the city and province will be contributing in excess of 1 million dollars to bring wal mart to the community, they also provided 750k to the home depot in another city. They then wonder where all of the good jobs (mfg/union) went.

ebeech121, almost 13000 people signed a petition to bring wal mart to my old town, most in the lower income / education brackets.
 

Wulf9

Member
Messages
923
Points
22
donk said:
In my previous job the city and province will be contributing in excess of 1 million dollars to bring wal mart to the community, they also provided 750k to the home depot in another city. They then wonder where all of the good jobs (mfg/union) went.

Look at it this way. If you are a small business in town and they give $1 million of your tax dollars to Wal Mart, they are using tax dollars to put you out of business.

That being said, we have given city incentives to new businesses that compete with existing business (fortunately, small incentives to small businesses that have equal access to goods and must compete on a level playing field.)

In California, the state controls tax collection and distribution to such an extent that a city cannot raise taxes to provide services. It must manipulate land uses within the state tax formulas to provide funding. So a California city may spend 10 years revitalizing its downtown and then decide to seriously harm its downtown with a Wal Mart center on the edge of town if a Wal Mart offers to come in.
 
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