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updated: 9/25/2012 12:32 PM

What East Dundee tried to keep Walmart

East Dundee says it tried it all before company took store to Carpentersville

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  • Wal-Mart plans to close this store in East Dundee and build a Walmart Super Center, complete with a grocery store, two miles away in Carpentersville. The new store is scheduled to open in 2015.

       Wal-Mart plans to close this store in East Dundee and build a Walmart Super Center, complete with a grocery store, two miles away in Carpentersville. The new store is scheduled to open in 2015.
    Patrick Kunzer | Staff Photographer

 
 

East Dundee officials say they gave it their all to keep Walmart in town.

They offered to help the retailer obtain approval for proposed traffic signals or curb cuts from the Illinois Department of Transportation, and to help it build a bigger store in its current location at routes 72 and 25.

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They suggested working on its signage to increase its visibility and even giving it a sales-tax rebate to help with new construction.

"We said everything was on the table," Village President Jerald Bartels said.

But it wasn't enough.

In the end, Wal-Mart Stores Inc. announced its intention to close its store in East Dundee after 21 years and build a bigger one two miles north off Route 25 in Carpentersville.

"We wanted to underscore the point that this was not an easy decision," B. John Bisio, director of public affairs and government relations for Wal-Mart, wrote to East Dundee Village Administrator Bob Skurla. "We have regularly analyzed the existing property, surrounding land, regional trade area and other variables to reaffirm that all stayed consistent with respect to our current and future business needs."

By 2015, Wal-Mart hopes to open a Super Center in Carpentersville on Lake Marian Road and Besinger Drive.

Wal-Mart would add 125 new employees to the Carpentersville store, as well as transfer employees from its store in East Dundee to the new one, Bisio said.

Skurla says business has been booming at the East Dundee Walmart, as its sales tax receipts have been rising steadily for between 36 and 40 months -- Wal-Mart contributes about $850,000 annually in various revenues to East Dundee.

Wal-Mart officials would not disclose why Carpentersville is a better location. They would say only that part of the decision involved the company wanting to offer a full complement of groceries and other merchandise at a larger store.

"We're looking to serve our customers and bring in more customers -- there was a lot more that went into that than our customer count at that particular store," said Daniel Morales, a Wal-Mart spokesman. "We've been trying to figure something out (in East Dundee) since 2006."

With the move to Carpentersville, West Dundee loses out, too. In 2006, Wal-Mart announced plans to close its East Dundee store and open another in West Dundee on Huntley Road, adjacent to Spring Hill Mall.

But those who live near the mall said building a Walmart there would ruin their neighborhood, and they sued. Wal-Mart scrapped those plans.

"They formally terminated their contract on the West Dundee site back in June and I've been privy for some time that they've been discussing the Lake Marian/25 site," West Dundee Village Manager Joe Cavallaro said. "Obviously, we're disappointed in that because that would have continued to put that retail emphasis and focus on Spring Hill Mall."

As soon as the Carpentersville store is ready for business, Wal-Mart would close its East Dundee location.

East Dundee officials have asked Wal-Mart to buy the existing building it now leases, to donate it to the village and to pay the village sales tax from the time it leaves until that time a new business moves in -- Wal-Mart's lease expires in 2017. In a letter, Bisio essentially said that wasn't in the cards.

But Skurla advised him not to say no.

"Any rejection of our offer could seriously hamper Wal-Mart's future success at the new location, given the number of potential shoppers from the region who will be reminded of another 'big box' abandoned by big business for its own convenience, thereby creating a blighted area in the community," Skurla wrote.

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