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Target drops plans for Chicago store

Target drops plans for Chicago store

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CHICAGO - The developer of a proposed Target on the city's South Side says the retailer is dropping its plans for the new store - unless Mayor Richard Daley vetoes an ordinance requiring big-box outlets to pay their workers more.

Eric Salcido, project manager for Primestor, developer of the South Side site, said Target "sent a letter to the mayor and the alderman indicating that Target is on hold and, if the ordinance is not overturned, they will not proceed on projects" in Chicago.

A proposed Target store on the city's North Side is also in jeopardy, according to city Planning and Development Commissioner Lori Healey.

Numerous phone messages left for Minneapolis-based Target Corp. on Thursday were not returned.

The Chicago City Council approved the big-box ordinance 35-14 last week, ignoring the protests of Daley and aldermen who represent some of the city's poorest neighborhoods, all who said the measure will drive businesses to surrounding suburbs.

Chicago Alderman Carrie Austin lamented Target's loss, saying the store was to anchor a 32-acre shopping mall in her district that has already secured $23 million in city funding.

"I'm depressed. Calumet Park has land right across the street they can develop," Austin said. "Our development will just sit there for another century."

The ordinance requires retailers with more than $1 billion in annual sales and stores of at least 90,000 square feet to increase workers' pay to at least $10 an hour in wages and another $3 in fringe benefits by July 1, 2010. Today, the minimum wage in Illinois is $6.50 an hour and the federal minimum is $5.15.

Daley hasn't said whether he plans to veto the ordinance at the next City Council meeting on Sept. 13. He would have to get two aldermen to change their votes in order to avoid an override.

At a news conference about property taxes Wednesday, Daley said the big-box ordinance will lead to higher property taxes.

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