What do you do when a regular Walmart isn't big enough? Naturally, you build a "Super Walmart," something Skokie may see as early as next year.
A Super Walmart has a barber shop, grocery store and an on-site ophthalmologist, among other things. If plans go through, the mega store would be constructed near the intersection of Touhy and St. Louis avenues.
Next to the retail giant would be a Chase Bank with an accompanying four lane drive-through, another unnamed bank with a three lane drive through and 17,000-square-feet of strip mall shops likely to be cell phone stores or quick service restaurants. Finally, a medical building will round out the area that will have at least 700 parking spaces.
Trustees are set to vote on the project at their April 16 meeting.
With the site secured - an estimated 195,000-square-feet - some issues still need to be ironed out.
All that square footage has some residents concerned, saying the new development will lead to increased traffic congestion. There's also another Walmart in nearby Niles, but that doesn't seem to be a conflict.
“I firmly believe we will be able to execute on this project because of the strong community and demographics and the fact that it is an infill location,” noted Peter Eisenberg, a principal of Clark Street Development, the company behind the proposal. “Therefore, it is in the middle of a densely populated area.”
Traffic a concern
With the project tentatively labeled as “Touhy Marketplace,” a menu full of issues need to be straightened out first.
The village is asking Clark Street to contribute $50,000 for future improvements on Howard Street. Much of the suggested traffic coming into Touhy Marketplace is expected to access the site via Howard Street. A village official said the developer has agreed with those terms, but a source familiar with the negotiations said the developer is willing to discuss that request and has yet to agree.
Moreover, employees who already work near the proposed site said the area will be overwhelmed with vehicles.
“This will add considerably to the traffic,” said Richard Block, who is employed on the 7300 block of Monticello Avenue. He said he and his fellow employees can already wait up to 15 minutes just to turn onto Touhy Avenue, and that's before construction.
But the proponents of the plan do not believe traffic patterns will be seriously altered by the new buildings.
A new traffic signal on St. Louis Avenue is expected to help ease the expected traffic.
Other issues remaining on the table include working out where trucks will load their materials for the small retail shops at the south edge of the building as well as vending machines placed just outside the Walmart. Skokie has not had outdoor vending machines in the past and they had only been approved at Old Orchard Mall for an interior location that targets teenagers.
Scott Berman, one of the plan commission members, voted against the issuance of a special use permit for the vending machines, but other members went in another direction and believed that matter could be resolved by staff before the village board votes.
A second try
This is the second recent attempt to build out this site. In 2008, a project that was proposed and approved by the village was never executed due to the developer experiencing financial problems. At the end of the day, however, this project is likely to go forward as there is too much money on the table for all sides.
“This has been a terrific partnership with the village of Skokie,” Eisenberg said. “We look forward to continuing to move through the process and eventually gain final approvals to eventually execute the process.”
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