Keeping Walmart in Naperville

Shoppers could soon be seeing a new place to buy groceries. Walmart is suggesting closing their current location on Route 59 and opening a 170,000 square foot Supercenter, and the Naperville City Council wants to help make this happen.

Walmart is eyeing an 18.5-acre lot at the southeast corner of 75th Street and Beebe Drive, but property owners want more than Walmart is willing to pay.

In an effort to prevent the retail giant from moving across the street to Aurora, city council members approved a $1.75 million tax rebate to the company as an incentive to build in Naperville. The money comes from the one percent share of the state’s sales tax that the city would normally receive and put in their general fund.

“Right now let’s just say for argument sake, they give us a million bucks a year in sales tax. If they go to Aurora we don’t see a dime of that and now we’ve got a million dollar budget gap,” said Councilman Grant Wehrli. “If they remain here and build a Supercenter, let’s say they make $1.25 million for the city, they keep that .25 and we remain flat.”

The agreement automatically expires in ten years, or when Walmart hits the tax rebate limit, whichever happens first.

But not all Naperville residents are on board with the deal.

“There is no reason for a company with Walmart’s bottom line should get any public financing from tax payers,” said Kent Bevel, Naperville resident.

The council believes this arrangement would be good for the city, and agreed unanimously to offer the incentive.

“It keeps job in Naperville, it keeps people shopping local and it keeps people in that area of town from crossing over to the other side of Rt. 59 and going into Aurora and spending their sales tax dollars there,” said Wehrli.

“I’m just grateful that Walmart likes Naperville and likes the demographics enough to commit this way,” said Councilman Robert Fieseler.

“I personally am thrilled that we’ve been able to come to this resolution that will greatly improve the quality and size of the Walmart that serves this community,” said Doug Krieger, City Manager for the City of Naperville.

If Walmart agrees, they must buy the property by January 1st, 2013 and start operating by January 1st, 2014.

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