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Walmart Withdraws from Elmwood Park

Walmart officials withdrew their application in part, they said, because of bad timing. One member of the Friends of the Village of Elmwood Park, a group that organized in opposition of the store, is "more than satisfied" by the corporation's move.

The organized opposition from the Friends of the Village of Elmwood Park seems to have worked: Walmart has withdrawn its application for a Neighborhood Market in that village.

According to a statement sent via e-mail on Wednesday, the "unique circumstances" surrounding the old Kohl's site at Lathrop and Durand Avenues prompted the company's about-face.

"The very unique circumstances at the vacant Kohl's store in Elmwood Park and Racine have made that project infeasible from a cost and timing perspective, and, after much due diligence, we have decided to re-evaluate the market. Walmart is excited to seek other opportunities to improve the shopping options of our Racine area customers," the statement read.

Nick Haas, a member of the Friends group, said he was excited about the news and was "more than satisfied" that Walmart is looking to land a Neighborhood Market elsewhere.

"This threatened our way of life in our village, which is calm and peaceful because we're a close-knit community," he said. "When over 90 percent of residents oppose the plan, that's a pretty good indication that a company should move on. I am more than satisfied that Walmart is looking for opportunities elsewhere."

Village Clerk Veronica Rudychev said she got a call Tuesday from Walmart attorney Debbie Tomczyk about withdrawing the application and was expecting something in writing prior to the company's announcement. Still, Rudychev said Tomczyk hopes Walmart's change of plans will allow neighbors to come back together.

"Walmart recognized that village residents were organzed against changing the village's land use plan and told me they were going to formally withdraw their application," she said. "They also saw how divided the community was and hope neighbors can come back together now."

Trustee and Plan Commission member Brad Jaeck was surprised to learn the news Wednesday when Patch called him for comment.

"Oh, my goodness. This is very good news," he said. "This has really made my day. Thank you."

He agrees that tensions have been high these last few months while the Walmart application wound its way through the process and hopes residents will stay engaged.

"We usually only had one or two people attending our monthly meetings, but I hope this new interest continues and people will continue to attend and be part of the community like this," Jaeck added.

Walmart was looking to purchase the old Kohl's property as well as a three-acre parcel to the south for a 40,000 square foot Neighborhood Market grocery store. To build according to their plan, village trustees would have had to amend the village's 2035 comprehensive land use plan to rezone the residential lot for commercial use.

The Friends of Elmwood Park organized to , most recently submitting protest petitions that would have forced a three-quarters, or 5-2, vote for any rezoning. Village President Audrey Viau and Trustees David Voss and Linda Pelish face recall in September, in part for their support of the project.

Walmart is building a Neighborhood Market on Washington Avenue in Mount Pleasant. That store is expected to open late next year.

Paul August 30, 2012 at 04:28 PM
Clearly some of the people here have not made the effort to learn more about Walmart and its business policies. Accepting anything because you think it's better than nothing is not a good decision; that's the very definition of desperation. I don't want to antagonize anybody. Please do some research re their operations. And I agree, SAMS Club is not as visible, but it's still a drag on the tax base. And consider that Walmart pulled out on its own. That's an indication of their real value of that location. It wasn't that important to them. They hit a point of diminishing returns. In other words, they decided it wasn't worth investing more of their resources. Because, if you check out their history, when they really want a property, they do not back off this easily. One final thought. I always hear how the people should decide about Walmart. Clearly the people did decide. I saw a very public display of resistance to Walmart. I didn't see any support for it. Nothing. So, yes, the people have decided. The folks who didn't want it invested more time and energy into stopping it than the people who wanted it. That leaves the impression the pro-Walmart folks didn't really want it that badly.
Jeff Frievalt August 30, 2012 at 05:01 PM
If you were truly concerned about property values and aesthetics, you would have demanded that the abandoned shell of a building would have been torn down years ago. As normal for Racine, build it, as long as it's not in my neighborhood.
Samantha Oravetz-Kumorkiewicz August 31, 2012 at 03:09 PM
Good for Elmwood Park!!! The people have spoken!!!
skinnyDUDE August 31, 2012 at 11:34 PM
I dont have a problem with Elmwood park decision . The area doesnt serve me at all. But the decision all but guaranteed that ugly site will serve no one for years to decades to come. It looks awful so it is perfect for the City of Racine which is becoming a slum .It has the sorry schools , giveaway homes and disappearing wealth to prove it .Its a trend that will continue and Elmwood park certainly has every right to help the decline that is coming with or without a brand new Walmart Market.
Mangia September 02, 2012 at 06:23 PM
So the people of Elmwood park have rallied against a company who wanted to put jobs in to our city with high unemployment. My son, neighbors and friends were hoping to get a job there. Now, why dont you be part of the solution and keep meeting and find another business to enter that space. It is easy to say no to things. Use your passion to find a solution to the ugly building and help put Racine back to work. You have blocked a chance for hope for many. I understand your problems with it yet your work is only partially done. Have the guts to keep meeting, find a solution with jobs to get our town working again. It sure was ok many years ago as a Kohls store with over 50 people working there. Dont like Walmart than find another solution. Stop bragging about how you blocked it and start working on solutions with your passion.

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