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Is Skokie Getting a Super Walmart?

The proposed site - which will include a variety of other businesses besides Walmart - is estimated to generate $1 million in sales tax revenue annually. Yet some issues need to be ironed out first, says one official familiar with the matter.

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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Sarah March 23, 2012 at 12:36 PM
Thank goodness for Walmart and the revenue it will generate for Skokie. Lets just hope that revenue will reflect on our property taxes.
Joseph Bakes March 23, 2012 at 02:23 PM
Skokie doesn't need a Walmart. There already is a Walmart in Niles and in Morton Grove so it is pretty pointless to have a Walmart in Skokie. Besides the Walmart corporation is evil and destroys jobs in the long run and destroys smaller family run stores wich we need more of and their products are terrible. We need fewer Walmarts.
Denyse Pashup March 23, 2012 at 02:49 PM
Have you been to either of those Walmarts? If you have, you know that there is never a single parking space at any time of the day. Sadly, we need a third one. While I don't disagree that Walmart has questionable ethics, in this economy, we need options to pay the lowest price and Walmart brings that.
Melissa March 23, 2012 at 03:25 PM
This is terrible news! We live in the Chicagoland area where we have access to anything we could possibly need WITHOUT another Walmart - or any Walmart for that matter. What about all the small businesses that are already struggling? Skokie is pushing the downtown development and then they allow this to happen? It's contradictory! If we continue to demand the lowest price without care for business ethics, food ethics, community care - we will never see an improvement. Come on, people. We can do better than this!!
Earl Weiss March 23, 2012 at 04:46 PM
What family run stores are there left in Skokie for Walmart to destroy? That ship has long since sailed. Good to kep the $ in Skokie rather than sending to Sam's in Evanston, or Costco or Walmart in Niles.
Sarah March 24, 2012 at 05:25 PM
I believe that Skokie needs a Walmart and any other store that will bring us money and jobs. There are too many people out of work and certainly too many people on food stamp and assistance. Its too bad Trader Joe's went to Evanston.
Sarah March 24, 2012 at 05:28 PM
Since you live in the Chicagoland area leave the business decisions to the people that live here in Skokie
deborah March 24, 2012 at 05:46 PM
I would prefer that we go with an ethical business rather than Walmart, and I live in Skokie
Scott Holtz March 24, 2012 at 05:46 PM
I can't see how this would hurt the efforts in Downtown Skokie. I actually agree with Earl for once! All I can see is increased tax revenue on long time empty property and jobs. I drove past the Walmart in Niles at 8AM on Saturday morning and the lot was mostly full. Walmart knows where to put stores and that spot is brilliant to get into multiple markets.
Sarah March 25, 2012 at 01:40 AM
I just returned from the Walmart in Niles on Golf and we had trouble parking the lot was full. I shop there since they have a full bakery, fruit and meat department. I can't wait to shop at the one in Skokie so my money stays in Skokie. I hope they have a deli department at the one in Skokie. Jewel and Dominicks are two stores I can not shop because of the prices. Also, Walmart price matches the Jewel and Dominicks ad. Might I add that Walmart gives you the full price of the coupon value, an example if the item costs .75 and you have a coupon for 1.00 Walmart will give the 1.00 and you make .25 cents and can apply it to the total of your order where dominicks, Walgreens and Jewel will adjust the coupon to .75 and guess what .....when they redeem that coupon from the manufacturer guess who gets a 1.00.
John Jones March 25, 2012 at 04:01 PM
That site, which is also partially in Lincolnwood, would far better serve as a modern "urban farm." It would be more ecologically friendly, just as financially lucrative, and would raise property values, instead of giving the local area a "Wal-Mart effect." But Skokie will go for the quicker, dirtier decision, I'm sure. This is the same village that lets cars park on a major thoroughfare (Crawford) during peak hours of the day, stunting north-south traffic. The same village that maintains a school district with its own high-paid administration (East Prairie) just because it is across the tracks from the rest of Skokie. Skokie does not seem to create anything that is forward-looking.
Scott Holtz March 25, 2012 at 08:31 PM
FYI - Crawford is a county road so decision making is up to them. I believe the Walmart site is entirely in Skokie from a glance at the map. There is a modern urban farm in the works on Howard behind the Tot Center and and the Village Trustees have no say/control of the schools.
John Jones March 26, 2012 at 04:27 PM
Scott, You are, for the most part, correct. Why is there no parking on Crawford in Lincolnwood, Evanston, or Wilmette, yet there is in Skokie? Great to hear about the urban farm. Wal-Mart would be entirely inside Skokie, but Touhy runs right through Lincolnwood there, and is already congested. If any entrance to Wal-Mart would be on Touhy, it would cause no end of troubles. The village and township do have input to ISBE with regards to districting. The East Prairie School District is a huge drain on our taxes for an obsolete, small, redundant building. It should be consolidated with a nearby district- McCracken or Lincolnwood. East Prairie has one of the highest salary averages in the state, for serving one of the smallest percentage of students, plus their own administration. Ridiculous.
Sarah March 28, 2012 at 03:44 AM
I think all the teachers, administration and staff in the local school district are all over paid. Instead of cutting school activities they should eliminate the too many superintendants in this area. Also too many principals and assistant principals too.
Earl Weiss March 29, 2012 at 04:23 PM
1. How many Urban Farm Developers can you name that are trying to get this parcel? 2. Please provide an internet link comapring the financials comparing a Walmart to a financial farm showing they are equaly lucrative. 3. Crawford has cars parked because some homes were built in the 1950's without driveways when there was still just stops signs on Crawford. There are no alleys so where would homeowners park? 4. Sadly, school districts are screwed up but that is a mess indepoendant from the Village entity and administration.
Earl Weiss March 29, 2012 at 04:26 PM
Please elaborate on alleged ethical lapses, particularly how other similar business aren't guilty of the same issues. Please save us the anti union rhetoric.
John Jones March 29, 2012 at 04:49 PM
Earl, I do not know of any Urban Farm Developers. I know it is an emerging field, and I would hope someone (a university, a developer, etc.). I am ignorant to the nuances of development, although I try to stay up to date on what is best for our communities. While the pure numbers may be higher for a Super Wal-mart, the sustainability of agriculture versus the cannibalism from other businesses that a Supercenter would entail, balance out any local economic benefit. So you would build this on the backs of Skokie and Lincolnwood, hoping to entice people away from the other Wal-Mart and two Targets within a mile or so, yet the tax district, again, would benefit a school that shouldn't even exist? The only winner here is Wal-Mart. Perhaps there should be a subsidized driveway installation program at Skokie's expense? When we get new sidewalks, half is paid by the government to improve the community. Right now, driving up or down Crawford is annoying at best, and dangerous at some points. A grandfathered parking clause shouldn't overshadow the needs of a region. Look at Northfield, for example. Luckily, they had IDOT put them in their place. I agree about the state of school districts. Illinois districts are so fragmented that it is a burden on the local communities. All so we can have more superintendents and administrators.
John Jones March 29, 2012 at 04:53 PM
Sarah, I am in full agreement about administrators. Teachers have the ability to work in some autonomy, based on the rigid expectations set by the state. However, in order to keep educators who are worth their salt, a decent wage is appropriate. No teacher is getting rich off of their job. Most districts' pay scales are based on an added contribution to TRS, so that the teachers can retire (they do not receive Social Security like the rest fo the work force). So just because a teacher "makes" $60k, doesn't mean they are pocketing that much after their TRS and taxes, and medicare. Superintendents, however, are making that much, and getting Social Security.
Earl Weiss March 29, 2012 at 05:00 PM
Well, it seems your arguments are flawed in several respects: 1. You have no data about what is more “Lucrative” an urban farm or Walmart. 2. If the farm is growing plants the real estate and sales tax revenue would be far less than a shopping center. 3. The number of jobs a farm creates is far less than retail. 4. The claim about the school “East Prairie” is not necessarily that it shouldn’t exist, but that we don’t need a separate district. If it were closed it would be a zero sum gain because other schools would have to be enlarged to accommodate the schools and I have no doubt they would bloat the administration accordingly. 5. If we don’t want new development because it will cannabalize old development nothing would ever be built. 6. If you are referring to sidewalks being half paid by the government, this is the biggest scam going if you refer to things like the Skokie Sidewalk replacement program where they stick adjoining property owners for half the cost. Why should adjoining owners pay for puiblic property jsut because they own property in proximity? What’s next? The streetlight bulb by your house burns out and you get a bill? There is a pothole in the street in front of your house and you get a bill. There is a serious question about the legality of Skokie’s strong arm sidewalk replacement cost tactics.
John Jones March 29, 2012 at 06:27 PM
Earl, First, I have to wonder if you or your law firm is involved in this deal. You seem quite vehement about Mr. Walton's venture coming to town. I do not doubt that I have flaws to my argument. They are opinion, based on personal feelings, with background knowledge in some of the areas. While my estimations of the lucrative comparison may be more rhetoric, Wal-Mart is only recently working on cleaning up its environmental impact, and several studies have shown that only areas that are "not adequately served commercially" benefit from the introduction of a Super Wal-Mart. I'm not going to cite sources here, since I assume you are intelligent enough to use Google. So you are right, my lucrative argument, which was only a part of a whole, was flawed. Do you have any data showing that the decrease in real estate tax, based on the decrease in property value that will occur upon the opening of the Supercenter (again, you are welcome to look up the readily available data), will be offset by the increased tax revenue at this store? You are correct that fewer jobs are created by a farm. However, farms (at least where I come from) pay a living wage, not just a minimum wage. Again, this is about the big picture, not immediate gain. I disagree about your assumption that the loss of a district would be zero-sum. All of the immediately surrounding districts are already equipped and staffed to absorb that district.
John Jones March 29, 2012 at 06:32 PM
I have no problem with the idea to cannibalize Chicago or Evanston, but not the other villages in the township. And I disagree that nothing would ever get built. If there is a need, yes, build away. But I do not personally see a need for another Wal-Mart. I agree with you about the sidewalk program. However, lack of driveways through that portion of Skokie is detrimental to the region and township, so who is more important? The needs of a few dozen homeowners, or the needs of a developing region? Again, I would direct you to Northfield's recent Movewillowforward.com And while we are at it, why do we need 4 different villages in one township? Tradition? If Niles is #1 place to live, and Morton Grove #2 (according to media), and Skokie and Lincolnwood don't even rank...why wouldn't we want to integrate into a smaller government, for a slightly larger area? Just because we are on the Chicago border doesn't mean we have to operate like Chicago!
Earl Weiss March 29, 2012 at 07:21 PM
I have absolutely no interest, professional, financial, familial or otherwise except to the same extent that it will benefit the community as a whole. You’re suggestion of an interest is an ad hominem attack. Before I look for data vis a vis a decrease in property value caused by opening a Walmart, I request that you provide information that shows any such decrease has occurred on a sizeable scale anywhere. You mis state what I said. It is not the loss of a district so much as so much as loss of a school. If you think I am wrong, just check out the Skokie districts now with Superintendents, assistant Superintendants, Principals and assistant Principals and on and on ad nauseum. If you don’t think the enlarged districts would continue the administrative bloat you have more faith in them than I do.
Earl Weiss March 29, 2012 at 07:23 PM
You are correct. $60,000.00 would not be much to get excited about. Check out District 219 http://www.familytaxpayers.org/salary.php Seems like average is around $100K / year+ Sick days & Fringes. Comes to about $540.00 / day for 185 work days a year.
Earl Weiss March 29, 2012 at 11:41 PM
"John Jones: And while we are at it, why do we need 4 different villages in one township? Tradition? If Niles is #1 place to live, and Morton Grove #2 (according to media), and Skokie and Lincolnwood don't even rank. " Hmm. So if Skokie should be like Niles, then Skokie needs 2 Walmarts just like Niles has.
John Jones March 30, 2012 at 01:18 AM
Earl, correlation does not equal causation. Niles's two Wal-Marts do not necessarily add to its ranking.
Sarah March 30, 2012 at 04:39 PM
Nanicann is the eight highest paid in the state...and wasn't there an article about her in the patch about getting a big sum of money from her father's firm for a bid. Name: Gatta, Nanciann Salary: $299,597 Position: District Superintendent Full/Part Time: Fulltime Percent Time Employed: 100% Assignment: Administration Years Teaching: 16 Degree: Doctorate School Name: Niles Twp CHSD 219 District Name: Niles Twp CHSD 219
Earl Weiss April 18, 2012 at 04:25 PM
Mr. Jones are you a prophet? http://skokie.patch.com/articles/gallery-talking-farm-breaks-ground-in-skokie#photo-9610273 Your urban Farm is starting now!

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