Almost a month ago, Wal-Mart filed a zoning and subdivision application in the Village of Northbrook, Illinois according to memo from the Village Manager, who said the proposal could go to the Plan Commission for a public hearing as soon as June 18th. The project does not yet appear on the docket of the Plan Commission, but some residents have contacted Sprawl-Busters to express their concerns.
As soon as word leaked out about the project, local residents were alarmed by the size and location of the project on Skokie Boulevard. One of the first things Wal-Mart amended in an attempt to sooth ruffled feelings against the project was to drop plans for a 24/7 hours of operation, and instead open at 6 am and close at midnight, seven days a week, according to the Northbrook Patch. But the fact is, this small community has no need for 151,000 s.f. of additional retail — open all night or not.
The population of the Village of Northbrook actually dropped slightly between 2000 and 2010. As of 2010, the population stood at 33,170 people. However Village economic development officials claim that there are 990,000 consumers within a 20 minute drive of the Village. But these surrounding communities already have Wal-Marts of their own, so no one will drive to Northbrook to shop the same Wal-Mart they have where they already live.
The Village currently lists retail spaces available at 32 shopping centers in Northbrook, most of them under 5,000 s.f. But the Village already hosts the 1 million s.f. Northbrook Court mall, the 405,600 s.f. Willow Festival shopping center, and the 335,000 s.f. Village Square of Northbrook. All these malls will lose market share if trhe pie is divided up into smaller slices. Consumers in this Village have plenty of retail choices available.
Even more remarkable, Northbrook has no less than 18 Wal-Mart stores within 20 miles, including a superstore 5 miles away in Niles, Illinois. So Northbrook is a saturated market area, showing no significant population growth, resulting in the likelihood that a new Wal-Mart store will capture most of its sales from existing merchants, including its own competing stores nearby.
Residents and businesses in Northbrook are actively organizing to stop this project.
The Village of Northbrook has a Council-Manager form of government, and is run by a Village Board of six Trustees and the President. Readers are urged to email Northbrook Village President Sandra Frum at: [email protected] with the following message:
“Dear President Frum,
I hope the Village Council will look closely at the economic impact of adding another Wal-Mart store to your area. Wal-Mart will tell you that its project will create new jobs — but the reality its jobs will mostly be transferred from existing merchants — like the long list of retailers at Northbrook Court. Another Wal-Mart will also cannibalize its own stores in Niles, and 17 other locations within 20 miles of Northbrook.
So don’t think of this as economic development — think of it as economic displacement. Northbrook cannot pin its future on low-wage retail jobs. Your trade area is already saturated, and all Wal-Mart will bring you is more traffic, more crime, and more pollution — none of which you need. It will tax your police, fire, water and sewer infrastructure, and what they build will likely only last 20 years at most.
Village residents already have ample opportunities to buy cheap imports from Bangladesh and China. You can do better than this for economic growth. In fact, this is not a form of economic growth at all.
I urge you to testify before the Plan Commission that Northbrook should work to in-fill and protect its existing malls, and not accept projects that will leave you with dead malls and retail blight.”
Almost a month ago, Wal-Mart filed a zoning and subdivision application in the Village of Northbrook, Illinois, according to memo from the Village Manager, who said the proposal could go to the Plan Commission for a public hearing as soon as June 18th. The project does not yet appear on the docket of the Plan Commission, but some residents have contacted Sprawl-Busters to express their concerns.