BUILDING AND GROWING I57 BUSINESS COMMUNITY
BUILDING AND GROWING I57 BUSINESS COMMUNITY
A Sam’s Club that closed earlier this year in Matteson will be repurposed as an e-commerce fulfillment center for the retailer, its second such distribution hub in the country, according to the village and Walmart.
The center will be a regional hub for deliveries to customers of purchases made online by Sam’s Club members and serve customers in an area of a several hundred-mile radius of Chicago, according to Kevin Thompson, Walmart’s director of public affairs and government relations.
Work on retrofitting the store, 21500 S. Cicero Ave., will start next month, with a tentative plan to have it operating by the end of this year, he said.
The fulfillment center will employ at least 70 people and as many as 140 people during peak shopping periods.
The Matteson store closed at the end of January and was among about 60 Sam’s locations closed by Walmart. More than 150 employees were affected by the closing of the Matteson location.
Sam’s Club has made a commitment to hire at least half of the employees for the fulfillment center from Matteson and other south suburbs, Matteson Mayor Sheila Chalmers-Currin said.
Thompson said that there is not a formal commitment as far as the number or percentage of local hires, but that “when we hire we want them to be local residents, it just makes sense.”
The Walmart next to the shuttered Sam’s Club closed in spring 2016, but the fulfillment center will use only the Sam’s property, he said. The building is about 150,000 square feet. Truck traffic should be about the same, and perhaps a little less, compared with when the warehouse club was operating, Thompson said.
Once completed, it would be the second Sam’s e-commerce fulfillment center, with the other being in Memphis.
Thompson said the retailer had been looking for a Midwest location for a second center, and noted that Walmart/Sam’s Club “have had a long relationship” with Matteson officials, who have been “very constructive to work with.”
The Matteson site’s access to airports, freight rail lines and interstate highways also factored into the decision to locate there, he said.
The Memphis fulfillment center, which was formally unveiled in June, also is in a space previously occupied by a Sam’s Club store. The company said the conversion took four months to complete, and Sam’s Club said it planned to turn other vacant stores to fulfillment centers.
In a news release in June announcing the opening of the 135,000-square-foot Memphis fulfillment center, Sam’s Club said it was looking to place other distribution centers in the Chicago area as well as locations including Texas, central Florida and southern California.
In the release, the company noted it had been ramping up efforts to bolster online sales, such as offering free shipping on most products purchased online for Sam’s Club Plus members.
Along with the Sam’s Club closing, Matteson has been hit with other retail departures this year, including the early-February closure of a Target store. In late January, Toys R Us said it would close a number of locations, including Matteson. The company, which had been in bankruptcy, later made the decision to close all of its remaining stores.
Carson Pirie Scott, the last store remaining of what had previously been Lincoln Mall, unexpectedly closed in early March, ahead of the parent company’s decision in April to close all stores.
Matteson officials in late January announced an agreement with Pete’s Fresh Market to open a 75,000-square-foot store in a space that years before had been occupied by a Dominick’s Finer Foods.
The closing of Sam’s Club was “quite a hardship on the community,” and as soon as the store closed, Matteson officials contacted the retailer, Chalmers-Currin said. Talks soon focused on the possible reuse of the shuttered space as an e-commerce distribution center, as Sam’s Club had announced that some of the 63 shuttered stores would be converted for that use, she said.
Walmart is not seeking any financial incentives from the village, but village trustees need to approve a zoning change for the property, with a vote on that scheduled for the village board’s Aug. 20 meeting.
From its inception, Park Forest was one of the few communities without restrictive covenants. Although pioneer residents represented religious but not racial diversity, within ten years of incorporation, the Village began a Human Relations Commission, adopted a Fair Housing Ordinance and actively sought racial diversity. The Village did not follow the pattern so prevalent in Chicago’s neighborhoods and suburbs of white flight and racial resegregation. Today, Park Forest is comprised of residents from all backgrounds and celebrates the rich diversity of the community. With more than 19 places of worship and a nearly 50-year commitment to fair housing, all ages, races, and religious groups call Park Forest home.
Park Forest has a long history of sustainable practices. In recent years however the Village of Park Forest has made a concerted effort to become the most sustainable community in Illinois. With the assistance of the Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning, a comprehensive sustainability plan was adopted in Park Forest in 2012. Since then, Park Forest has been named the winner of the Congress for New Urbanism Illinois Charter Award for Best Town Plan (2013), the winner of the Illinois American Planning Association’s Best Sustainability Plan Award (2013), the winner of the Governor’s Sustainability Award (2014), and received a 3-STAR Community Rating for leadership in sustainable practices by STAR Community Rating System.
The Economic and Community Development Department handles various inquiries regarding zoning and development and processes building permits. Additionally, our Code Enforcement Division enforces rules and regulations adopted by the ICC Property Maintenance Codes and the Village of University Park Zoning Ordinance. Our inspectors are certified to handle inspections on residential and commercial properties located throughout the Village of University Park.
Our main focus is to achieve long-term goals outlined in the Comprehensive Plan and to enhance our community with new development.
There are several development opportunities for retail / commercial, industrial, and office uses in our Village. Governors Gateway Industrial Park and Commerce Center, located near I-57 in the western portion of the village, provides one example of a great location for business development.
If you have questions regarding economic development or code enforcement, feel free to contact us at (708) 235-4818.