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When we heard the news Wednesday of a Wally's World coming to Chicago proper - we're not gonna lie, we weren't too excited. You know, Its been a long battle for Walmart and their people (The People of Walmart) and we didn't want to involve ourselves in the saga but after what we uncovered yesterday, it seems we have no choice.
Neighborhood Market, under the long arm of its parent store, Walmart, will be housed in the two story extension of Presidential Tower number two on the corner of Monroe and Jefferson which formerly housed Presidential Market. The modern aluminum-cladded addition for grocery, restaurant, and retail space that was being built as part of the PTupdates.com project, and according to leasing agents in the towers, is now complete. The update of the ground floor spaces services not only all four tower's combined 188 residential stories, but also loop workers and travelers at nearby Ogilvie Transportation Center.
Though these leasing agents had barely nothing to do with signing this epic real estate deal, they knew everything about it and said that demolition was in progress and construction was soon starting.
So we walk around the corner, gazing up at the eery towers and the criss-crossing sky -bridges, or affectionately nicknamed "habitrails" by residents. Seeing a man walking through this human habitrail, we're realize in awe that we are in the presence of architecture which, living in this city, we forget about how all the buildings scream at each other. Always looking at tones of stone, tints of glass, fresh styles of industrial optimism, and often seen Burnham-esque fascia, it seems just the setting for Walmart's more urban-oriented Neighborhood Market to get their foot in the door.
Coming up on the corner entrance of the space, we see inside some ventilation being ripped from the ceiling and particulate billowing through the 26,491 square-foot box. The floor has been jackhammered and is now a mix of gravel, and cement rocks, wires are exposed from the walls and a subterranean portal hole in the ground is hiding underneath some plywood. A dog-eared and sun-faded photo catches our eye between a broom and pile of work clothes on a small piece of the floor that still remains tiled from the previous tenant. Looking closer, its a photo of somebodies butt.
Tilting our head like a puppy looking at a Milkbone, we try to look closer at which point we bump our head into the glass and one of the Norcon demolition guys comes over to see what we're oogleing over. He opens the door for us, (and the ambient heat feels nice) we speak for a minute about the construction. Although we didn't see much "official" paperwork or the floor plans, but we trust that the demo guys knew whereabouts the produce and freezer sections. In fact, besides the visible permits, the only "paperwork" we saw was this photo of Somebodies butt! One of the guys asks if we want it and (not that we need it, but who would turn that down?) we took it and walked away from this future Walmart location having put on a happy face.
Rolling back into our chair and thumbing through the extremely dusty, extremely girly mag a few blocks away in the privacy of the Starbucks cafe area in Dominick's where you can score free wi-fi, we're noticing that this must be Playboy's "The Best Of" or "Greatest Hits" issue because there are photos of The Playmates of the year spanning from 1991 to 1994 and include nudie pics of Supermodel Cindy Crawford, barely legal Drew Barrymore, the infamous Barbi Twins and the late Anna Nicole. The list of boobs goes on, and though we're unclear about the volume and issue number to this collectable, most recent date we found printed at the end of one of the articles was 1995.
Its a mixed bag about this looptastic Neighborhood Market Walmart deal. We appreciate demolition / construction workers, building things and working with our hands. We're excited about the $1,000,000 cost to buildout the store and the 100 jobs they'll create when opened. We, along with the door lady with the fabulous nails at the PT lobby, don't like that they won't sell clothing when they open, we also don't like the location's proximity to the French Market at Ogilvie Station. Yep, mixed bag.
Overall, if we were a secret shopper in this situation, and had to give a report to Walmart's CEO and Executive Vice President, Will Simon: We're happy for the construction workers, happy for Walmart, and happy for the Barbi Twins.
· Walmart [Official Site]