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Walmart Unveils First Store in Bronzeville

By Sam Cholke | October 14, 2014 2:06pm
 Mayor Rahm Emanuel and local officials cut the ribbon Tuesday on a new Walmart Neighborhood market in Bronzeville.
Walmart Opens in Bronzeville
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BRONZEVILLE — A new Walmart Neighborhood Market was unveiled at 47th Street and Cottage Grove Avenue on Tuesday after nearly a decade of work to get the store open.

“I think we had the groundbreaking at year seven and the grand opening at year nine, so sometimes redevelopment is slow,” said former Ald. Shirley Newsome (4th), who started working on reviving the corner with then-Ald. Toni Preckwinkle in 2004.

The $46 million Shops and Lofts at 47 project opened Tuesday with 90 of the 96 subsidized apartments above the new Subway and AT&T store already rented out.

“This looks a lot better than it did in 2013 when we broke ground,” Mayor Rahm Emanuel said at the ribbon cutting. “Not only does it look better, it’s exactly the kind of investment we want to see.”

The development, which replaces a former liquor store and liquor warehouse, took a complex web of $45 million in public financing and loans. The city kicked in $13 million in property taxes from the 43rd Street and Cottage Grove Avenue tax increment-financing district, and the Chicago Housing Authority provided a $7.8 million loan, among other tax exemptions and loans.

The project was slowed by its complexity and the economic downturn, which put a broad swath of Bronzeville real estate projects on hold indefinitely.

Shops and Lofts at 47 is one of the first of the hibernating real estate ventures in the neighborhood to be revived by the alderman and community development groups.

“This was truly like an Amish barn-raising process,” said Ald. Will Burns, the third 4th ward alderman to work on the project.

He said he flew to Walmart headquarters within weeks of taking office in 2011 to ensure company executives and developers that the project would continue to be a priority.

On Monday, clerks were putting the last of the products on shelves at the Neighborhood Market, which is about one-fifth of the size of a Walmart Supercenter.

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